Tag Archives: interaction

from interactivity to back-channel (3/3)


Understandable reaction to boring lectures, in our early 21 century, is to hear the desire to have interactive ones. Wait, what do we mean by interactive courses?  Again everybody turns to digital technology for the answer, but is the answer there?

I start to believe that what we refer to interactive is when the conversation between me and the other is in balance. Understanding by other either a person, or a system or a thing, etc. The conversation will not exist if we do not want to listen, and one will never listen someone that one does not want to hear or it is not ready to hear.

When the conversation between two or more is in balance constructive-interactivity exits, because we are able to act on each other. 

I will try to make an example: let’s go with the “less” interactive media such as a book. It only has words, in the best of the cases perhaps some graphics. But some books one can’t put them down, because their content is really interacting with our inner, we do not need more sounds, smells or graphics, all it is between me and the book in full interaction. The book is “talking” to me, acting on me.  Am I acting back on the book? At the moment I am reading it I am not acting on it, but each time I recommend it or I talk about it, my actions have an influence on the book. The relationship human-book is a constructive-interactivity, however maybe no synchronous in time.

Let’s go to a webpage where we can push tons of buttons, where the information is messy and irrelevant, where the “interactivity” is “high”.  First one tries to push all what is possible to see what happens, if the system can capture my attention, after little while one gets bored and quit it. Was the system interactive? According to the definition “a program that responds to user activity” yes, plus the system had a reaction on us to quit it. But in this system did not exist the “conversation” between the user and the system, just an action-reaction type of of relationship.

Why all these babbling? Well, this weekend I “join” the conference of  State of Play” via my Twitter. A full experience, thanks to these folks that are SO ACTIVE, they have interesting topics but overall wonderful backchannels. One can say that these backchannels promote interactivity between their members on-site at real-time, using technology as a tool.

Liz Lawley in 2004 already made an interesting reflection about this backchannels. It calls specially my attention when she writes: “good content + great speaker(s) = near silence in the backchannel, as people focus their attention entirely on the stage“.

She has made a point that made me write these posts. When we talk about interactivity are we refering to physical action? to be entertain? to have a visible action-reaction system?  or to relevant an meaningful conversations? As we can see and experience, even if we use all the tools available (technology, resources, people, etc.) what it matters at the end of the day is the combination of the content and the speaker to keep an interactive conversation. Then, what do we mean as interactivity?

Time to the time, as I need to think more on this, and for sure as more I will hear about interactive lectures, interactive systems, interactive games, etc. as more  I have the impression I should understand what we “mean” with interactive.

people "backchannel" in a conference - Photo credit : Pete Lambert

people "back-channel" in conference. - Photo credit: Pete Lambert.


source image: http://pistachioconsulting.com/twitter-presentations/



from interactivity to back-channel (2/3)


My believe is that all what surround us interacts with us at some level, but it is not that simple to listen to it or be aware about this. E.g. within humans we can find that some people is louder than others, then it is easy to hear (no necessarily listen) some individuals than others. The same happens with all what surround us. E.g. a flower can “talk” to us and tell us that it has not enough sun, it takes us some days to understand its message but it talks clearly about it. Of course a dog will be louder than a flower. Sadly enough, we humans are not train to listen to different frequencies and rhythms. We focus on our senses in a very narrow bandwidth (we make it even smaller than what it is).

Even with our lovely technology, we are not “train” to listen to it carefully, give time to it. E.g. when suddenly one of our applications is not working in a way I expect, (aka it is not being interactive and friendly with me from my perspective), I can say: it does not work. Then patiently Mikko and Teemu say: “what is the system telling us?”. We go to different (debug) windows to see what our system complains about.  Then the NO-INTERACTIVE system from MY perspective, actually is an INTERACTIVE system when we listen to it from another perspective.

This starts to be interesting….

Maybe even Newton could fit here. His third law is my favorite one: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. One of the main concept to understand within this law is friction. Btw friction is not a simple concept, but it is crucial in order to understand the balance of systems.

How Newton could fit here? Well, in a very naive way I would say: all action has a reaction somewhere, not only in “physical terms”. Then, can we call that reaction is interactive?  If interactive is “acting on each other”.

More in the last post of this sequel…

acting on each other?

acting on each other?



Credit of image: http://blog.dyknow.com/


from interactivity to back-channel (1/3)

The last weeks I had gather A LOT  of food for the though, or  perhaps my brain is strangely configurated since my basics. I will try to process all these ideas  before express them out in here step by step. Today’s turn is of “INTERACTIVE”. (Thing I will research after my PhD, as now I am running out of time).

Interactive is a powerful and complex concept, that I do not have on clear. In the dictionary as a second definition of this adjective we find Interactive in Computer Science: Of or relating to a program that responds to user activity.  But the first definition is: Acting or capable of acting on each other. (source: the free dictionary).

Interesting…. as we always focus on the tool (in here any computer and/or machine) and superficial layer of understanding, we think and/or assume that a system is interactive if it makes noises, changes the graphics on the screen, or do something correlated to the “input” we are given to it. In other words we consider that a system responds to our activity if we can perceive without effort a “change” just by looking at it, or smelling it, or touching it or hearing it. Hence, the system is interactive. My question: if something does not “react” or “respond” according to my expectations then it is not interactive ???

To make my post shorter, then I will stop here, continue with the second part…




Credit of image: http://sivers.org/interactive-website



about games

it has been long since I post some games that might be interesting to show, from my point of view. But today is the day and for sure those are games I would like to try, at least once, what about you?. Take a look:

a) for those who like sensors, and chanllenge the believe that actions of humans can be predictable, here is an interesting research: “Skin signals betray a gamer’s moves” .

b) for those who do not like to be connected to a machine, but still use their body for playing, this “Shadow Monsters (Gameplay?) Is A Bit Amazing”

c) Last but not least, for those who like the one person shooting game, and who does not get surprise that the military is trying to advance much on the development of technologies, here it goes how they are working on live-virtual, immersive systems, here a video of the Virtual Combat Simulator.

Then that is for the moment folks!