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What is interaction


 

Cambridge Dictionary: An occasion when two or more people or things communicate with or react to each other.

 

Such a simple question, yet for the past few weeks it has not been the clearest thing to define to myself, much less on this blog.

 

Interaction has so many meanings, to me and to those around me. My experience collaborating with others at ITP has made me redefine this word because the students and teachers in this environment think so differently, expanding how I would normally discuss such an issue.

 

The word “interactivity” took on a new meaning from the conventional when I became a self-taught webmaster in the 90s.

 

Then it was a buzz word, and it still is, but it referred to how a visitor of a website is given the choices to navigate through that site's features. Interactive elements on the page included links to other pages, buttons to say, view an image or play music, and included playing a game or puzzle.

 

In theory then, this “interactivity” led to Websites being used more, or “sticky.” The measurement of interactivity was how long a visitor stayed on a Website… For content heavy Websites, this interactivity was further defined by how long they navigated through the links to other content on that Website.

 

With the slew of online tools used for everything from word processing to data science, and everything in between, the definition of online / mobile interaction is constantly changing.

 

Mobile technology in itself,  its physical components that we use to manage our lives and entertain our minds, has brought new meaning to interactivity. It is a constantly evolving term.

 

I came to ITP to study media technology and to discover how to go deeper into storytelling using more ‘interactive’ tools.  Now that I am here, these tools tell a different interactive story that what I expected.

 

My plan was to to expand my content ideas by:

--Building a data based repository / server

--This server would be built to handle the new types of media files and expand for upcoming ones

--Use AR/VR, etc as a tool for telling stories

--Introduce new forms of art, retold in an interactive setting

 

I also came to build tools to help others like myself, that have lost some mobility in  their hands and legs, but need to get back to work. So now, I am working on building a hand mobility tool to help those whose fingers suffer some sort of paralysis. This condition ails me now, and I need to build this tool for my personal sanity.

 

Let’s take a look at this hand mobility tool in terms of interactivity. To be honest defining the interactivity of the tool is what has led me to redefine what exactly interactivity is.

 

In physical computing, we are learning how a microcontroller, can have a relationship with  physical and digital items, communicate with a computer, and also be controlled by a user’s input. This is a multi-layered relationship, that, when designing a mobility tool can become quite complex. Here, these various relationships have to be succinctly defined. It is definition that requires a redefinition of how I viewed interactivity in the digital world.

 

It is akin to writing a variable in code. It has a value, that can be used as another value, which can also be redefined. But what to do when you have arrays that may need such handling? This is what I am here to learn.

 

I will write a separate blog about this tool, its levels of interactivity, its schematics, its behind-the-scene code…

 

But what about my other tool. That media tool is what we may call a content management system (CMS). This has various levels of interactivity, from the back-end adding content to the system, to the front-end user engaging with the content.

 

There is so much more to this subject. It's definitely worth another blog post.