Where the Interaction Is Not: Reflections on the Philosophy of Human-Computer Interaction

Where the Interaction Is Not: Reflections on the Philosophy of Human-Computer Interaction

Roger Gacula Pineda (Emopowerment Oy, Helsinki, Finland)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/IJACDT.2016010101
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Abstract

The concept of interaction is foundational in technology interface design with its presuppositions being taken for granted. But the interaction metaphor has become ambiguous to the extent that its application to interface design contributes to misalignments between people's expected and actual experience with computers. This article re-examines the presuppositions governing human-computer interaction with the motivation of strengthening weaknesses in their foundational concepts. It argues for abandoning the interaction metaphor to refocus design discourse toward the mediation roles of technology interfaces. ‘Remediation', i.e. representation of one medium in another, is proposed as a conceptual model that more precisely describes the human-to-computer actions.
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Where Interaction Is Not

One cannot deny the contribution of metaphor usage to modeling technical aspects of the operating principles used in contemporary digital computers: it has triggered the evolution of computer interfaces to its current iteration. Metaphor usage, however, has also become an object for further analysis (Marcus, 1994), related to studies of resultant problems encountered by ordinary users of computers. Researchers are aware of the need for empirical evaluations of metaphors, as shown by the work of e.g. de Castro Salgado et al. (2011), but the literature on computer technology design provides few reflective analysis of interaction, such as the assessment by e.g. Keeler and Denning (1991). Precedent critiques by Dreyfus (1992), and by Winograd and Flores (1988) only lightly touch upon the issue of interaction per se. Works expounding a philosophy of interaction relevant to design of computer interfaces (e.g. Dourish, 2001; Svanaes, 2014) are even fewer, and these precedents do not fully describe the gestalt of interaction. To date, partial answers based on analysis of its components have enabled development of models used in design and engineering of user interfaces. They have helped in realizing the technical aspects. There remain, however, questions regarding human factors in computer usage. Partial answers to them are proving to be inadequate, and consequences manifest in misalignments between people and technology. What is interaction? Where does it happen? How is interaction with a computer experienced? What are the presuppositions and the contingencies that must exist in order for something to be perceived as interaction gestalts? These are the foundational issues, which remain partially understood.

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