A study of the different ways we talk about interactivity in HCI research – and what this means for our understanding of it – has been published in Interacting with Computers, April 2017.
It’s called “How We Talk About Interactivity: Modes and Meanings in HCI Research” and is co-authored with Gavin Doherty.
Here’s the abstract:
Interactivity is central to digital products, systems and experiences. It has long been studied from different disciplinary perspectives but while applications continue to be described as ‘more’ or ‘less’ interactive, there is a lack of consensus on its meaning. One approach to improving understanding is to focus on the different ways we talk about it rather than pursuing a single all-purpose definition. This study examines how interactivity is treated in a sample of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) research papers (N = 117). We use a combined content and discourse analysis approach to explore the range of definitions and technical configurations associated with the concept and unpick the wider discourses around it.We find it frequently described as a characteristic of technologies, an instrumental approach that suits quantitative measurement, but is acknowledged to miss other qualities. We also find qualitative user assessments that measure a spectrum of low to high interactivity, which are interpreted in different ways due to a lack of explicit definitions. The analysis reveals rich discursive material where different layered conceptions of interactivity arise, which we describe as ‘modes’ of interactivity. The dominant mode in HCI is ‘empowerment’, also found most frequently in public discourse. We offer modes of interactivity as a design and evaluation tool for more conscious consideration of this multidimensional concept.
And if you don’t have access to OUP journals, here is a PDF of the full article