This chapter provides a brief overview of Web interactivity. It highlights current research findings on interactivity from several academic disciplines and offers insights on current and future development of Web interactivity. A framework to examine multimedia and Web interactivity is provided. The chapter concludes with future trends and suggestions for future research directions.
Interactivity on the Web (or Web interactivity) is a powerful trait that offers enhanced values between merchants and consumers. Studies show that Web interactivity offers better consumer experience, enhances perception on telepresence, and the user’s attitude towards a Web site (Coyle & Thorson, 2001), and engenders a higher level of learner satisfaction (Liu & Schrum, 2002), as well as a positive influence on learners’ attitudes. Interactivity has been shown to engage users in multimedia systems, to encourage revisits to a Web site, to increase satisfaction toward such systems, to enhance the visibility of Web sites, and to increase acceptance (Chen & Sockel, 2001; Dholakia, Zhao, Dholakia, & Fortin, 2000; Rafaeli & Sudweeks, 1997).
Within the academic community, there is little consensus of what interactivity is, and the concept often means different things to different people (Bucy, 2004; Dholakia et al., 2000; Johnson, Bruner, & Kumar, 2006; McMillan & Hwang, 2002; Yadav & Varadarajan, 2005). McMillan and Hwang (2002) suggest that interactivity can be conceptualized as a process, a set of features and the user perception. Interactivity as a process focuses on activities such as interchange and responsiveness. Interactive features are made possible through the characteristics of multimedia systems. In a similar construction of the definition for interactivity, Rafaeli and Sudweeks (1997) consider interactivity as a process-related concept, where communication messages in a sequence relate to each other. However, the most important aspect of interactivity lies in the user perception on, or experience with, interactive features. Such an experience may very likely be a strong basis for future use intention.
Ha and James (1998) defined “interactivity” as “the extent to which the communicator and the audience respond to, or are willing to facilitate, each other’s communication needs.” Early studies tend to consider interactivity as a single construct where multimedia systems vary in degrees of interactivity.
As research continues to uncover the dynamic capabilities of multimedia systems, the definition of interactivity evolves to include aspects of hardware/software, processes during which the interactive features are used, and user experience with interactive systems. Dholakia et al. (2000) suggest the following six interactivity dimensions: (1) User Control, (2) Responsiveness, (3) Real time interactions, (4) Connectedness, (5) Personalization/Customization, and (6) Playfulness. Similarly, Ha and James (1998) suggest five interactivity dimensions: playfulness, choice, connectedness, information collection, and reciprocal communication, while Johnson et al. (2006) perceive interactivity along four dimensions: reciprocity, responsiveness, speed of response, and nonverbal information.
Within the context of multimedia systems, we view interactivity as a multidimensional concept referring to the nature of person-machine interaction, where the machine refers to a multimedia system. In the context of the Web, these multimedia systems range from two-way, one-to-one interactions to multiway collaborations. Figure 1 presents a conceptual framework (derived from Dholakia et al., 2000) that characterized interactivity dimensions as follows:
Interactivity as a multidimensional concept
Key Terms in this Chapter
Firewall: A collection of systems that enforce an access control policy amount networks. Typically the firewall is located between the internal network and the outside network to block unauthorized traffic (Butcher-Powell, 2005).
Telework: An approved remote working arrangement between the employee and the company. Typically, the employee is working from home (United States Department of Defense, 2002).
Scavenging: Attacking the physical access to a laptop or computer.
Teleworker: An employee who officially performs his or her assigned job tasks in a specified work area in his or her home on a regular basis (Niles, 2001).
Authentication: The procedure of determining whether someone or something is who or what they declare to be. In small business networks authentication is commonly done through the use of passwords and digital certificates (Butcher-Powell, 2005).
Data Tampering: The threats of data being altered in authorized ways, either accidentally or intentionally.
Viruses: Malicious programs that usually are transmitted by means of various types including executable files. Viruses can shut down a PC, delete files, and change files.
Trap Doors: Pieces of code inserted into a program. They are typically used for the purpose of bypassing standard access control mechanisms.
Encryption: A combination of key length, key exchange mechanism, rate of key exchange, and key generation. Popular encryptions are Kerberos, Data Encryption Standard (DES), and Rivest, Shamir, and Adelmaen (RSA) Data security (Powell, 2002).
Communities of Practice (CoP): CoPs refers to the idea of sharing information and knowledge within a small group, as well as to the value of informal learning for a group and an organization (Mitchell, 2002).