In the first chapter of his book The art of Interactive Design Chris Crawford challenges people’s definition of interactivity and what can be actually called ‘interactive’. While the examples and evidence he provides are somewhat laughable, for example the refrigerator doors not being interactive, although some people might think they are, the part that I enjoyed reading the most from Chapter 1 is about the conversation, what makes it good, and what makes it interactive. According to Crawford, a good conversation consists of “listening, thinking, and speaking”, which one might find obvious. However, when I think about it, I realize that very few people actually know how to really listen to the other person during the conversation, which I think is the most important part, and thus the conversation becomes pointless.
I find it very interesting that despite focusing on the definition of interactivity, Crawford manages to point out these crucial things in our everyday life (such as conversations), using them as examples of what can be called a good interaction or a useless one.
The other reading, The Jump to Universality, is focusing on universality, as one might have guessed from the title. It was interesting to read mainly because it provided hundreds of interesting facts, most of which I did not know before reading. For example, that Archimedes imposed the restriction on how big a number can be. The author claims that “if Archimedes had been willing to allow his rules to be applied without arbitrary limits, he could have invented a much better universal system just by removing the arbitrary limits from the existing Greek system”. The main argument is that in ancient times people have been adding to the universal system without even intending to, while after the Enlightenment people have been doing so on purpose. The best part of this reading, in my opinion, is the very last sentence that simply explains it all: “Because error correction is essential in processes of potentially unlimited length, the jump to universality only ever happens in digital systems.”
I was observing my friend use a vending machine. At first I thought this won’t be the interaction worth mentioning for this assignment, however, everything went wrong with the vending machine and it was quite funny to observe my friend trying to get his snack. First, he inserted a coin, and the machine did not react to that. He then inserted another one, hoping something will change- still nothing. After inserting 3 coins in total and realizing that the machine does not take coins (although it should), he started putting bills into it. He inserted a 5dhs bill, the machine finally showed he had 5 credits to purchase a snacks with, however, once he made his choice on Doritos, the machine took his credit away and did not give him any Doritos. Back to where he started- with 8dhs lost and yet no snack, my friend, a little pissed, inserts another 5dhs into the vending machine. It recognizes the bill, gives him credit to purchase with, and finally gives him what he wanted! What was expected to be a casual interaction became a somewhat upsetting experience for my friend, thus I thought about what I could do to make it better.
First of all, I would make this vending machine spit out the coins it does not recognize (some vending machines do that), instead of just consuming them. Second of all, I believe it should have a better cash input to vending mechanism connection, so that in case the machine does not give a person the goods he wanted, it will not take the credit (money) from him. Last but not the least, I think the interface on the machine is not that user-friendly, i.e. if one presses a wrong button by accident, he cannot change his choice, and the machine will end up giving the person the goods he did not necessarily wanted (if it ends up giving the person anything at all, of course).
No way was I expecting such a fun and interesting read about a somehow intimidating subject – electronics. The thing I loved about this reading from the first paragraphs is the tone. The very first joke about how hard it sometimes is to remember things, the fourth president of the United States in particular, made me expect something really funny on the way, although I did not see how it can be possible when it comes to talking about physics and electricity.
Kenn Amdahl does this seemingly impossible job of explaining how electricity works in his own, at points bizarre way. After explaining the electron theory using watermelons and mosquitos, he claims electrons don’t exist and the reading becomes a story about Amdahl’s encounter while fishing in Utah, which I find incredible. He makes the reader embrace the truth that instead of electrons, which don’t exist, there tiny partying green people, called Little Greenies, and they are the ones behind all the electricity laws.
I really wish I have come across this book while studying electronics at school.