PCM Wk 1: Thoughts on the Readings + Videos

Reflections on “The Art of Interactive Design” by Chris Crawford

The quote “interactivity is superior to all forms of human expression in one way: it engages the human mind more powerfully than any other form of expression” makes a lot of sense. Interaction grabs our attention the way the way no other form of communication can.

Yet, this brings to mind the book “Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In this book, he describes that people are at ‘flow’ when we are so grossly engaged with an activity that we lose our sense of self. However, some of his examples of moments in which people are most often at ‘flow,’ such as when they are playing piano or drawing, are not necessarily interactive in the definition that Chris Crawford described in Chapter 1. For example, is drawing interactive? Not really, right? The paper or pen is not necessarily effecting my actions; I am effecting and manipulating the pen completely to achieve my results. And yet this can be a very engaging form of human expression and does help people achieve ‘flow.’ Is Chris’s argument also implying that interaction helps us achieve ‘flow’ easier? I argue that it is possible to achieve ‘flow’ or total immersion even without interaction. For example, when person A is having a conversation with someone who is not fully paying attention or not actively responding, the conversation and level of interaction would suffer (as Crawford has mentioned). Then there is person B, who is in a quiet space and fully focused on sketching their graphic novel. I would say that person B is definitely engaging with the human mind and paying more attention to the task than person A. So isn’t a person’s level of engagement based on the quality of the interaction and the level of commitment of the person. In some cases, i.e. when a person is playing an amazing video game, interaction may reign supreme but in other cases when one side of the interaction is not up to par, it is not necessarily the superior form of expression to grab a person’s attention. I just think the quote mentioned above: “interactivity is superior to all forms of human expression in one way: it engages the human mind more powerfully than any other form of expression” is dependent on some other factors.

Chapter 1 Review Q+A:

  1. Are rugs interactive? Explain in your own words why or why not.
    Rugs are not interactive because they don’t respond to your action. They are not “listening” to your action and responding with their own action.

  2. Come up with your own damn definition of interactivity.
    Interactivity is when there is communication (listen, response, and action) between two or more actors. The participants’ actions are influenced by and depend on one another.


Reflections on “A Brief Rant of the Future of Interaction Design” by Bret Victor
I wholeheartedly agree with his argument that we need to imagine new and better technology that takes into account the amazing capabilities of our hands and bodies.

People learn by doing, and if people are limited to swiping the screen or clicking the mouse then they are ignoring all the possible forms of interaction that can help people learn and engage . I tried to think about his argument in relation to educational tools and spaces: exhibits, books, classrooms, etc. When I think about certain exhibits that are considered to be using “cutting-edge” technology, I find that many are still using touch screen tables (more swiping) in order to display information. When it comes to having people read or understand a subject matter in a very straightforward, no-nonsense way, the tablet or a piece of paper with text on it is probably still most suitable. But, personally, the most memorable moments has always demanded more dynamic and natural hand/body movements or at least a very cool and immersive environmental experience.


Questions on some of the videos:

  • Measuring Voltage
    • Tried to replicate the exact setup with the breadboard, but for some reason I couldn’t measure the voltage of the voltage regulator. I think it is a transistor not a regulator. how would I measure the voltage if it is a transistor?
  • Measuring Current, Resistance, and Conductivity
    • What is the pot of the potentiometer?
    • Just to be sure, if you put the black led through the top metal part of the voltage regulator that measures the ground? Is that correct?
  • Schematic Review
    • Polarized capacitors? I need to research more about what this is and how that differs from a capacitor.