Group Task: Redefining “Interactivity”

14 09 2009

In an attempt to collectively encourage the flow of ideas and perspectives regarding how we define interactivity, class today was a group exercise in breaking out of the box. Whatever the box may be, well I will leave that up to you to decide. However, what I can say is this…trying to hammer down a definition to terms that are so fluid, new and evolving is not an easy task.

Being split up into groups of five or six, we were tasked first with deciding on an operational definition of interactivity. Interestingly, all of the groups’ responses to this single task shared underlying components, though differing to degrees in terms of specifics. Every group underscored the relationship with “two” or “multiple” people; although one even went on to emphasize the communication process outside of human or technical bounds. Remember my mention earlier, breaking outside of the box?

Subsequent questions relating to interactivity were posed as well to the groups. The responses ended up going in a myriad of directions. For instance, when deciding on a new series of words to replace “audience”, answers ranged from users, participants, and members to audience architects and interbots! Along those same lines, redefining the word “audience” resulted in more obvious parallels. Every group incorporated descriptive language of an audience’s role as being “engaged”, “involved”, “active” or “influences”. The application of these actions varied among the groups however. Some left their definitions to span a broad expanse of actions while others narrowed it down to be applicable to time, money and intellectual property.

The final component involved good’ ole communication theories and which most aptly apply to interactivity. Almost unanimously, Uses and Gratification Theory took the cake, so to speak. I will spare you exact details of these group’s methodologies on choosing this one besides realizing the needs and wants of users. As this thinking goes, users have a need for something, either it be information, a product or an interaction with a friend. Therefore, to help quench those needs, something must happen to take care of the need or needs. Just to be fair, some of the other major theories that some groups did cite included Knowledge Gap Theory, Propaganda Theory and Richness Theory.

So, where do you stand? Agree? Disagree with the choices? Regardless, that’s a wrap.

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