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Characteristics of Interaction

I have identified five properties that are intricately interwoven, the first two hierarchical: Quality of Content, Quality of Form, Qualities of Use, Interaction Principles and the Interaction Paradigm. My attempt was to try to get a clear overview of the different factors that determined the interaction in interactive environments. In the beginning the vague task existed of distinguishing between the different patterns, principles and paradigms of interaction in the different interactive environments. On the other hand i was also interested in integrating what appeared to me to be "interaction metaphors" meaning the visual/conceptual model with which people performed manual and/or gestural operations people had to interact with the system. But of course this doesn't describe the overall quality, its success - as a whole.

In the beginning i was looking for interaction metaphors, after a while my conclusion was that the metaphor "interaction metaphor" is more misleading than useful and descriptive. It was later, that i discovered that Brenda Laurel had mentioned "interaction metaphors" as early as 1986 in "Computers as Theatre".

The following diagram is a temporary snapshot of the insights i gained until now.

Although the Interaction Paradgim is defining some of the Characteristics of Use the Characteristics are so flexible that the Paradigm becomes a subclass of the Charcteristics - and not vice versa.

*In interactive environments there is more freedom developing the form out of the content.
Screen based application have to be, more or less, canonical.

From the different principles there derived a whole nexus of different “characteristics of interaction” and “qualities of use” that the researcher collected for a further process of validation and enquiry. Some of the characteristics in question could be described as oppositional pairings with both poles present (Dewey), whereas others stand singular and require still more contemplation. The list is a suggestion and not yet complete.

Western mind-focussedness

As another result of historical western mind-focussedness and abstraction, long lasting efforts have turned some qualities into numeric quantities.
The qualities described further down, are qualities to remain diffuse, flexible and open to interpretation which the author sees as their strength – not as a weakness.

The “Quality without a name”1 would be a mix of the interaction characteristics the content, form among others.

1) Alexander calls "The quality without a name" when something is alive. This can be a man (a woman as well, i suppose) , a bridge, a fire ...
Christopher Alexander, "The Timeless Ways of Buidling"

2) Counting the trees - instead of smelling the forest. Is there anything more to say?

last update: 1/7/02008 0:53

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