Reading Writing Interfaces

One thing I’ve been thinking about is the rhetoric that revolves around interfaces and technological devices as Emerson points out. There’s one section where she cites Mark Weiser claiming “The most profound technologies are those that disappear. They weave themselves into the fabric of everyday life until they are indistinguishable from it” (10). This concept alongside of devices needing to be “thin” “beautiful” “elegant” emphasizes the importance of devices needing to become more and more invisible. Even aesthetically speaking devices should not promote themselves nor should stand out as being electronic devices, it’s almost like they transform into aesthetic statements.

These concepts of invisibility are even more interesting when it comes to a devices software and hardware. Especially in the context of Natural Interfaces, interfaces should become invisible to users their propensity to remind the user that they are interacting with something unnatural should become eliminated (whatever that means). I find this exceptionally fascinating in context with the Emerson’s comment on play and creativity “We no longer have access to digital tools for making we have predetermined choices” (3). It”s fascinating then that ideologies of elegance, beauty, invisibility, and seamless appearance places us in a position where we have less creative agency with the technologies that we use.

I find this to be especially fascinating when we compare something like an Apple laptop or ipad and all of it’s features with people who use their devices for play. People who use computers for play or for making completely reject this notion of invisibility and their technological set ups continue to expand in order to increase the phenomenon of play and creativity. I’m thinking of music producers like Deadmau5 who has an entire space that is purely dedicated to producing electronic music even in analog ways which is super fascinating, but the materiality of his set up is not seamless, invisible, or elegant. His space is a giant mess of technology and people who are fascinated with creativity and play admire his space and technology.

Gamers are another group of people who love play and creativity and ironically enough technological devices that are aimed towards this demographic are the antithesis of invisibility and elegance. My Alienware Aurora R6 desktop tower is prided on and marketed on the ability to access its internals easily and to play with the hardware of the device, expanding and customizing the device even further. As a PC gamer the materiality of my work/play/creative space is the opposite of elegant. Image attached. I find it fascinating that companies like Razer and Alienware market their products on the ability to play and utilize visibility as a marketing strategy, making things that you want on your desk and providing interfaces to customize the lighting and performance of those devices. In fact I added a neat key on my keyboard the instantly opens our WordPress website for this class–but that key can be customized to access a multitude of things.

Ironically this interface is making it difficult to add a photo I have no idea how to do it haha.



3 thoughts on “Reading Writing Interfaces

  1. I agree with you on the concept of technologies becoming invisible. Something about larger, chunky technology is unappealing now, and screens continue to get smaller. It is strange that as the physical technology shrinks, the digital interface grows more, holds more information, and offers consumers more variety.

  2. I was interested in the concept of invisibility also. Your comments (especially “their propensity to remind the user that they are interacting with something unnatural should become eliminated”) reminded me of those passages in Plowing the Dark in which they discuss how to make the Cavern more realistic. They want to eliminate awareness of the interface, or perception of the interface (remember the specific phrase we looked at last week about the interface disappearing). I’m wondering what this means with regard to Emerson’s call to return to the physical book. As she talked about invisibility I couldn’t help but think about how everyone always talks about e-readers and kindles and things of that ilk being more desirable because you can carry “a whole library” with you in a single, thin package. What does it mean to disappear a whole library in this way? What happens to our reading processes and practices, our reading ethics, even, when our libraries become invisible? (Not that I think brick and mortar libraries are vanishing or obsolete or anything; the question is more theoretical, I suppose.) I’ve never owned an e-reader or even used one for reading, but I do purchase or rent ebooks every so often to read on my laptop, if it’s cheaper or more convenient, and even this weekend I was using a free digital edition of The Lord of the Rings while writing my thesis because I (horror of horrors!) couldn’t find a specific phrase I was looking for…

    1. *sarcasm*
      Isn’t research all about finding people saying the things you want them to say, so that you can say what you want to say lol?

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