Interactivity Dissertation

The Myths and Performance of 'Interactivity' in

Interaction Theory

David Holmes

Sales and marketing communications and Multimedia, Monash University or college

David. [email protected] monash. edu. au

The word ‘Interactivity' remains as equally a buzzword and a fraught principle within interaction theory. To get 1950s information theorists (e. g. Shannon and Weaver, 1949) interactivity denoted two way interaction between possibly humans, pets or animals or equipment, but today it is now exclusively hardwired to the telecoms and calculating sectors. The utilization and misuse of the term in ‘new media age' discourses is usually problematised from this paper by showing that traditional media can enable interactivity – whilst exploring accounts that new multimedia do not, per, guarantee interactivity. The limitations from the concept of interactivity becomes noticeable the more it really is empiricised or perhaps made exclusively reducible to a single or various other technical moderate. This in turn underpins the historicism of second media era thinkers, to get whom interactivity becomes associated with the ‘interactive society'. (Castells, Van Dijk)

Interactivity has almost changed into a lifeless buzzword. The word is so overpriced now that one begins to suspect that there is a lot less to this than many people want to make that appear. No enterprise would neglect to claim that it really is keen on responses. No head would do not praise the arrival of your new conversation era. Seemingly


interactivity has hardly any threatening meaning for the elites. (Schultz, 2000: 205 )

‘Interactivity' has recently made an appearance as both equally a buzzword and a fraught concept within conversation theory. Intended for 1950s information theorists (e. g. Shannon and Weaver, 1949) interactivity denoted two way conversation between either humans, pets or devices, but today it is now exclusively hardwired to the telecoms and computing sectors. In information theory, the content of communication is usually separated in the means of communication, and the purpose of communication is to control the reproduction of a ‘message' in a medium or perhaps means of conversation. Today, the word interactivity is usually reserved for only communication events which are digitally extended in space and time.

The word ‘interactivity' has become rapidly conscripted into the discourses of a ‘new media age'. Interactivity is central to a cluster of terms that preoccupy the study of cyberculture. Around it happen to be assembled so many of the binary conditions of new media theorising






synchronous/asynchonous, mediated/face-to-face, etc .

The strongest proponents of the importance of interactivity will be the ‘second media age' advocates (Gilder, 1994; Poster, 95; Rheingold, 1994) who give it with emancipatory symbolism in contrast to the one-way structures of first media age, ‘broadcast' press. Traditional media of newspaper publishers, radio, tv and cinema are considered as repressive, handling, subordinating and an strike on individuality itself. Fresh media, in comparison, are seen to put the charge of meaning-making back to the hands of the individual to the extent that they enable interactivity. Indeed, pertaining to Poster, interactivity is elevated to the position of a ‘mechanism' of modern multimedia:

Subject metabolism in the second media age group occurs throughout the mechanism of interactivity.... interactivity has become, by dint of the advertising campaigns of telecommunication businesses, desirable while an end itself, so that their usage can easily


float and be used in countless contexts having little regarding telecommunications. The phenomena of communicating far away through your computer, of sending and becoming digitally encoded messages, penalized ‘interactive', has been the most well-known application of the net. Far more than making purchases or obtaining data electronically, communicating by computer system claims the extreme interest of countless thousands. (Poster, 1995, 33).


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Calhoun, C. (1992), ‘The Facilities of Modern quality: indirect cultural relationships,

information technology, and interpersonal integration'

Castells, M. (2001) The Internet Galaxy. London: Oxford UP.

Gilder, G. (1994) Life After Television. Ny: Norton.

Cartel, M. (1995) The Second Press Age. Cambridge: Polity

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Rafaeli, S. 1988. Interactivity: Via new multimedia to communication, In Sage Annual

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Rafaeli, S i9000. and Sudweeks, F. (1997). ‘Networked Interactivity'. Journal of Computer


Rheingold, They would. (1994) The Virtual Community. London: Secker and Warburg.

Schultz, T. (2000) ‘Mass media and the concept of interactivity: an educational study of

online forums and target audience email'

Shannon, C. and Weaver, W. (1949) The Mathematical Theory of Conversation.

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