chapter  21
Interactivity
Pages 11

Interactivity remains a key concept in new media. It is a concept that marks out a set of defining and characteristic differences between analogue and digital media. Interactivity has been hailed as both the founding principle of a new medium as well as its defining myth. Interactivity is the bedrock of the claim for the radical newness of digital media in two important senses. First, the idea that new ways of accessing and manipulating data through HCI and GUI extend the human mind and create new ways of thinking. Second, that interactivity creates a new set of communication tools, which change the relationship between author and audience and hence offer new freedoms of expression. While there is substance in both of these claims, the major criticism is that new media’s transformative and emancipatory nature has not been borne out by the experience of most users of interactive computer products. On this critical view, computer interactivity is characterised as displaying limited choice and navigation within fixed and bounded programs.