The Emergence of Interactive Media and the Democratization of Communication
As a culture we are evolving from left brain bias to a more balanced mode. We are increasingly becoming more right brain — we are becoming a picture-based society, and learning / communicating / interacting is becoming experiential and iconographic. This revolution in thinking and visualization is being led by graphic designers, information designers and advertisers.
Much of today’s population in the U.S. has grown up in a game-playing environment. Increasing sophistication is changing the expectations of the user. As we train the user to use the games/interfaces we create, we are changing our own culture in every area of life. From cell phones to GPS systems in cars, the expectations of the user are ported from other, more established media (TV and games) to these new interfaces. This makes our job of training the user a bit easier, but it is a kind of house of cards for anyone who has skipped some of the “training” — for example, an elderly person who has never played an online game may not know how to program a cell phone or use the GPS system in their car.
Interactive, non-linear media is the tool that reflects and molds this developing culture. Interactive media is democratic: power is being given back to the individual. This is influencing us on every level as a culture, and it is going so fast that most people don’t see it. I do see it, and I like to be aware of it as I work as an artist, as a designer, and as a teacher.
Corporations and advertising firms are losing revenue because many of them are behind the times on this issue; they continue to try to use outmoded forms of advertising and communication. Since the user is no longer a sitting duck for the bullet of the advertiser, the advertiser has to change his methods. The user can choose his experience and is sophisticated in the use of his new-found freedom. So the advertiser has to become increasingly more sophisticated in how to deliver his message, he has to clothe it in interesting content and deliver it in an engaging interface.
DEMOCRATIC MEDIA — Social Networking
When the average user has the ability to express his thoughts via a blog, put up a video of his daily activities, and make or break a brand via his search engine “vote”, the landscape of interactive media has changed. Personally, I find it very exciting.
It is up to us as interactive designers to create ever new ways of engaging, communicating with, and informing the user. What is different is that we have to listen to the user more than ever before.
I envision the following as the future for interactive design, some of this is already in process:
– interfaces that change “on the fly”, adapting to the user
– interfaces that educate the user seamlessly
– interfaces that enable the user to “design” his own interface
– interfaces that allow the inclusion of more networking abilities
– interfaces that connect more pieces of the user’s life with control from a central location
– interfaces that organically “grow” on their own, past the vision of their designers
– interfaces that are open source
– more shared content in an open source environment
– the formation of networks of special interest groups and the linking of these networks
– interfaces that expand and collapse, according to the needs of the user
– the increasing use of z-space in interface design, not necessarily expressed as traditional 3D
– the emergence of new kinds of collaborative experiences
– interfaces that address learning and engagement of both sides of the brain
— copyright 2007 Aliyah Marr