What is Interaction ?

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– Response to The Art of Interactive Design: A Euphonious and Illuminating Guide to Building Successful Software by Chris Crawford and A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design by Bret Victor. –

On simple words, interaction is the action exerted reciprocally between two or more objects, agents, things in order to communicate each other. Although this word may be confused or be related to technology, interaction can be understood on a simple act like a human conversation. As Chris Crawford explains in his book, to succeed in this action, both agents/objects must perform 3 steps. Listen, Think and Speak.

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Regarding physical interaction, there are many other ways that two agents may interact with each other. This can be things like object manipulations, tactile sensibility, smells and even different kinds of grips variations as Bret Victor emphasize in his brief.

How can we create useful interactions?

As probably both authors would agree, a good physical interaction will be that one that aims to explore a complete range of human capabilities in order to succeed with the conceptual cycle of listen, think and speak. If both agents in the process are responding naturally and are able to maintain the flow of the cycle, I guess it can be called a good interaction.

So, just that? Is it anything missing?

During the second chapter of Chris Crawford's book, he points out the importance of the first microcomputer spreadsheet program, VisiCalc. Unlike of his predecessors, the relevance of this new technology was the possibility to make changes almost instantly, establishing the idea that the time or speed of action is one of the keys to succeeding on how we should interact with other agent or at least for create useful interactions. So saying this, we can think that whatever the case is such a conversation, checking a website or writing a blog post like this in a word editor, good interactions should be judged in relation to the time of responses and context of the situation. Because exchanging letters through postal mail is still a good way of interact, right?

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