Thursday, 17 April 2008

Interactivity: a concept explication

Spiro Kiousis

Kiousis, S. (2002) Interactivity: a concept explication New Media & Society, SAGE Publications, Vol4(3):355–383

Kiousis suggests that "interactivity is both a media and psychological factor that varies across communication technologies, communication contexts, and people's perceptions." The paper aims to generate new theoretical and operational definitions to bring a consensus across the disciplines.

What I have found useful in this paper are:

  • The definitions of interactivity;

  • The perception of interactivity;

  • The components and features that comprise the various definitions;

  • The variables associated with interactivity.
Additional to this is the literature review within which he uses a six-dimensional definition of interactivity based upon one supplied by Carrie Heeter from her 1989 paper "Interactivity in the context of designed experience". His definition is:
  • complexity of choice available;

  • effort that users must exert;

  • responsiveness to the user;

  • monitoring of information use;

  • ease of adding information;

  • facilitation of interpersonal communication.

He states 3 basic empirical rules for observing interactivity:
  • at least two participants;

  • the presence of technology allowing mediated communication;

  • possibility to manipulate the mediated environment.
In summary Kiousis defines interactivity "as the degree to which a communication technology can create a mediated environment in which participants can communicate (one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many) both synchronously and asynchronously and participate in reciprocal message exchanges (third-order dependency). With regard to human users, it additionally refers to the ability of users to perceive the experience to be a simulation of interpersonal communication and increase their awareness of telepresence.

Operationally, interactivity is established by three factors: technological structure of the media used (e.g. speed, range, timing flexibility, and sensory complexity), characteristics of communication settings (e.g. third-order dependency and social presence), and individuals’ perceptions (e.g. proximity, perceived speed, sensory activation, and telepresence)."

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