As Gillian Smith points out, Interaction Design has drawn heavily on the ‘existing expressive languages’ of non-digital mediums. She breaks these traditional languages down into 4 ‘dimensions’: 1 – words and literature, 2 – painting, graphic design, iconography, 3 – product design, 4 – film and TV.
I agree that much of interactive design to this point, even the really good stuff, has been interesting mash-ups of these various traditions. True, many new activities and applications for both work and play have been afforded by computers. But if you think about the really compelling elements of your favorite digital products, I find that they mostly come the 2nd or 4th D traditions: either really nice visual communication, or immersive cinematic experiences.
I agree with Smith that we need ‘an independent language of interaction with smart systems and devices, a language true to the medium of computation, networks, and telecommunications’. Of course lots of innovation has occurred to take advantage of the unique opportunities afforded by digital technology, and it continues to rapidly. The internet is one space in which we are seeing some promising activity (and a lot of hype as well) in this direction. The whole ‘web 2.0’ and ‘wikinomics’ phenomenon can be seen as web developers trying to craft a language ‘true to the medium’ of networks, and to utilize the power of vast numbers of people networked together.
While I’m excited by these new innovations in web applications, I agree with Smith that we have more than a little way to go to achieve compelling interactions on par with “the breathtaking innovativeness, the subtlety and intuitive “rightness” of Eisenstein’s language of montage” …(more to follow)