Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Reality Interactivity Index

Based on some earlier postings I think it is time to launch the concept of "reality interactivity index".

The index is a measurement of how interactive a certain environment is. An environment can have an index that is extremely low, which means that it does not react or change as a result of human actions. En environment can have an index that is extremely high, which means that every human action leads to a reaction and change in the environment. Of course, most environments are somewhere in between. One of the grand challenges for interaction design is to figure out what interactivity index fits a certain environment.

I am convinced that the reality interactivity index will become a common way of describing and defining the character of environments where humans live and act. It is a measurement that is similar to the notions of an environment being "natural" or "artificial", or "rural" versus "urban". We use these notions as a way to define the overall character of an environment. Interactivity will be, or maybe is already, one of the most important aspects of how we understand an environment.

5 comments:

Tomas Lindroth said...

Well, not the same but related to this is what I have named Interaction Comfort. IC does not refer to Interaction in the environment per see but to the percevied interaction by the individual. Since Ljungberg & Sörensen discussed Interaction Overload one may assume that there is also Interaction underload or abstinence. This is not a simple scale from low to high interaction but rather about the right amount and the right/expected interaction at the right time. For instance, during a business meeting there is a lot of interaction going on, but it might not relate to what i realy ought to do, which introduces interaction abstinence even though there is alot of interaction going on. In the train compartment we may experience abstinence as well, this where people start fiddeling with their mobile phone, just to get a minimal involvement.

To conclude, yes I think that it is the right time to develope frameworks of interactivity/interaction. But are they tied to an environment, situation, and how do they contribute to a higher quality of artefacts in use.

//T

PS. Is there an expression for "artifacts in use" like desiderata is an expression of "what we think we want"

Erik Stolterman said...

Hi Tomas

I like your concept of Interaction Comfort! Your comments are interesting and I think this supports the need for a better understanding of the nature of interactivity!

For your last question, there is no such concept as far as I know. We all know that there are qualities in artifacts as such and artifact qualities when in use, so if someone can help us with that :-)

Erik

Anonymous said...

Hi
The concept of interactivity index sounds interesting. But it is not the bottom of the problem yet. It is a descriptive thing rather than predescriptive or explanatory. So what is next? That would be more interesting to me.

Erik Stolterman said...

Well, that is an interesting comment. However, I think that for now, at least for me, the challenge is first to understand what such a concept might mean and how it would be possible to "measure" it. Maybe further down the road we could turn it into a question of how to design it...but it is of course the final purpose..

Mattias said...

The question I get in my head is why. Coming into interactivity from a dialogical perspective I can't resist to think that we always are interacting. I think Tomas and I talked about this at the workshop on Interaction design in pedagogical practice. Heidegger would say that we are thrown into a situation were we act and cannot not act. Per Linell would say (I think at least) that the word comes before the thought at which we are interacting (perhaps with ourselves) even in the act of thinking.

So if we always are interacting, then all environments where there are people, are highly interactive. Perhaps the amount of interaction is nothing more than a consequence of the number of people at a particular place (or in a certain space)?

If that is so, an interactivity index wouldn't tell us much. It would then rather be interesting to inquire to the nature of that interaction.

Also, there is a clear risk that an interactivity index would work in the same way as the IQ where we try to measure some kind of general intelligence factor (Spearman's G) to quantify what is common in lots of different kinds of intelligence. I mean, can we measure all interactivity in the same way, and can we then combine all different kinds of interactivity into one factor? I sort of feel that this could turn into something like abilities measurement in psychometrics.

Perhaps it would be better to do as Erik Hollnagel and the other guys in cognitive systems engineering and see it as complexity (which also can be measured) that needs to be controlled/managed. I'n not sure where that would lead us though.