A. Cinque Hicks on Sun, 5 Apr 1998 04:06:36 +0200 (MET DST)

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Re: <nettime> Interactivity: a praise of clocks

your argument about clocks is compelling, but only goes so far, i
think.  if the only definition of _interactive_ is that we do something
to it to make it work, then a pair of scissors is interactive.  a
shoelace is interactive.  a toilet is interactive.

in order to be a useful term at all, we need a much more refined
definition of the word.  here's my proposal: the measure of
interactivity is not merely the ability to influence the performance of
something, but to actually *alter the system of operation itself*.  when
you step into an elevator, it has a single function that you cannot
control.  you can give it very limited instructions on how to perform
its function, but you cannot tell it what function to perform.  the
dialog here is extremely limited.  the same is true of a radio or a car.

the difference between these and, say, digital technology is that in
creating languages, operating systems, websites links, etc. one is
continually altering the system itself, not just what the system says.

finally, i don't think that we have to think of interactivity as a _yes
or no_ proposition.  There can be gradations of interactivity with some
things being more or less interactive than other things, or some
artifacts being interactive in some contexts but not in others (a
telephone for example).

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