Phys Comp | Interactive Design-vs-Physical Design [reaction piece]
Chris Crawford and Brett Victor both have the potential to be very convincing however, Brett Victor’s theories speak more to me than Mr. Crawford’s because of his tact. Mr. Crawford states that his definition may not match up with everyone else’s but then proceeds to almost bully the reader into why his definition is right and yours (if different) is wrong. I do not agree with him regarding theater. Theater is one of the earliest forms of interactive design. The problem with his explanation and I think the main reason he writes and thinks the way he does is because he solely sees interactive design and devices as “for the audience.” As an actor, I know how much work is done, research, and connection that scene partners, directors, designers, and crew all have to do before appearing on stage. While on-stage there is a whole world of interaction occurring. Therefore I believe that Entertainment media is a form of interactive media.
I checked the date of publication, for Crawford’s book, because it’s been a long time since I’ve heard a humorous and at times cynical voice on such a tech-heavy subject. 11 years have passed since the publication of this edition, and I think it needs an update. Rugs can be interactive if they have a built in functionality to engage the intended party. The test of interactive design is not always a blatant “conversation.” It can just be the ongoing engagement between two or more parties/devices/things; it does not need to be profound.
Muscle Memory is powerful and I agree with Brett Victor that we cannot ignore our hands. Good physical design should engage “muscle memory” along with interactivity or not. Personally, I had a difficult time transitioning to the touchscreen phone & still am not fully sold on it. However, there is a physical movement that is involved: the swipe motion. As as a DJ, I’ve seen this come up a lot. When the iPad was proven to have functionality as a “controller” it was shunned. For events in extreme weather (ie: Burning Man, Coachella, etc.) a touch screen may be great, it’s flat, and has no grooves but it has limited touch-response, it’s just tap or swipe. As children we learn with our hands; we build with blocks, learn how to bounce a ball, tie our shoes. Tactile learning is key in the functionality and building towards the learning capacity of the human mind.
A book is a great example for both arguments. This blog post from Slate: Why People Don’t Want to Read E-Books on Tablets says a lot.
- The e-book/tablet reader is interactive according to Chris Crawford’s philosophy. The hyperlinked content can re-direct you to other content, searching for particular words can produce results, etc.
- The e-book/tablet reader according to Brett Victor’s philosophy, needs a re-design: paper that can load various books so as to keep it’s tactile nature, but still possess the same capacity as the “pictures under glass.”
My definition of interactivity is also the reason why a rug can be interactive; Brett Victor’s definition of a good tool “A tool addresses human needs by amplifying human capabilities.” This is of course the 1st week, and going into the 2nd class so my mind and thoughts may or may not change…we will see!
Not all great design needs to be “interactive”…the digital clock provides information and isn’t interactive. It’s used everyday by people everywhere. Interactive design is typically more provocative and lasts longer in the mind, as it is engaging but good physical design doesn’t always need to be interactive and all interactive design doesn’t always utilize good physical design.