IFI7144 – task 14 – final reflections

Finally I would like you to reflect back on the entire course and think of what you have learned during these weeks. What is it you are going to take with you from this course, be it negative or positive experience, content-related or organisational aspects and so on?

To sum up the course,

I do understand the importance of different views and aspects concerning scientific research and definitions on a subject, but obtaining a view on the whole field by reading text is a bit hardcore for me. Not to grumpy all the way, I did obtain a lot concerning interactivity and the theories behind the concept. I especially enjoyed the evaluation of definitions and creating an understanding for ourselves. Just the overall part of obtaining the concepts was a bit dull for me, thats all. As Seen in my previous post, I find the dry reading a bit tiresome and ineffective.

I also enjoyed the online classes we had, just because of the interaction. It brought the subject “out of the books” and added a bit more flavour to it. I certainly wish there were more online chats during this course. The online interaction helps to obtain the views better and also gives the opportunity to check ones arguments concerning a topic.

Overall I think the course made me think about interactivity on a deeper and more philosophical level. Also the activity theory and aspects associated, help to define processes better, so we dont only see the surface.


IFI7144 – task 13

And here comes the task. Think of one activity. It can be anything, from different fields, from your every day life, etc. How is it carried out now? Is it possible to redesign this activity to make its outcome more efficient, more reasonable? Is it possible to re-instrumentalise and re-organise it with the help of emerging digital technology?

One of my everyday activities that I would like to enhance and better is the way I address the study materials. Concerning the university studies we have been provided with a whole lot of information from various different sources. Firstly the gathering of the information is quite hard. One can use different feed programs to get the information needed to proceed with the tasks or just to bookmark the sources and go manually from there. Since I am not a fan of plain text that different RSS readers provide, I have been approaching the subjects and tasks by going through them, whenever I have time, one by one. This approach almost always means that I get stuck on a subject that needs my attention and than I try to provide it to the task at and. This straightforward approach keeps the one subject in my focus and unfortunately makes everything else secondary. When the subject or task is completed, I have time to concentrate my attention on other tasks but as it happens, the deadlines might have already passed by that time.

Of course, there are programs and assistants that can be used, in order to meet certain deadlines simultaneously, but I have not become familiar with them yet. The second thing, I would point out when going through interactive and mostly web based subjects, it is quite important to have mobile means to address the courses. By that I mean laptops, smartphones e.t.c. And of course, I have none of those. So as far as re-instrumentalizing goes, it should be a first step to obtain a mobile device to keep myself up to date with different dates and deadlines. Of course the device would provide the means to fulfil the tasks anywhere.

Efficiency could also be risen by communicating with the texts and information on a more personal level. Reading a 20 paged document from a computer screen, for me, is a big task. The attention span should be prolonged in some way or another, because I do find myself in a situation where pages of text have gone by and all I remember is the headline. Of course a good way of addressing the issue would be by printing out the pages, but the cost of printing paper would be enormous. So this is a task that I have to take a look at and hopefully solve, in order to successfully increase the efficiency of the text based information-obtaining tasks.

Task 12 – Digital technology – Tool or Medium

is digital technology a tool or medium in our activity systems? Or both? Are we talking about just instruments or a specific form of societal activity? Is digital technology neutral, autonomous or far more than mere tools and instruments?

As formulated in the task itself, this “dilemma” has been mentioned rather explicitly or implicitly by many of our IMKE group at different times. So before going into the actual question on my own, I decided to take a look at the article provided by our facilitators. The article was written by G. Rückriem in 2003 and titled “Tool or Medium”. The article itself brings out very specific knowledge and thoughts on different aspects of this question, on which I will try to formulate my own understanding.

To start up, I really liked the idea brought up by the author that many of today’s appliances and technology isnt something that we cant live without. Like Gurjewitch (1978) or Judin (1984) put it about cars: „They are neither frameworks to any other existing technology nor historical paradigms of a whole epoch. In other words, they are not without alternatives, not unavoidable, not irreversible, not general and not universal.“ As far as my thoghts go, I totally agree with that statement. But as they moved on, I also agree that in some ways we cannot say so in characterising computer technology. They continue: „It is becoming more and more obvious that computer technology is in fact without any alternative, unavoidable, irreversible, general and even universal. It changes not only one specific concrete activity but revolutionizes the societal activity structure as a whole and the complete relations of activity and consciousness (that is the economic, social and psychic status of any tool available).“ Nowadays, everything that we do is somehow connected to computering devices and the digital technology behind it.

Therefore I do see the computer as a tool that is used for performing certain tasks and mechanising the surroundings to make society work better and more fluently. But if we look a bit deeper into the whole usage of digital technology there is a growing sign that it is acting as a medium also. The activity theory and media theory have different theoretical backgrounds, which also use different terms for the central concepts. Firstly ”tool” is a main concept of activity theory in our common understanding and secondly, “medium” is the central concept of media theory. Rückriem’s point was to see, if these two theories are compatible.

After going through both aspects, I seem to agree with the author, that both of these sides see digital technology as that concept, either tool or medium. And digital technology allows these theories to do that, because the development in the digital world have become so vast in the recent years, that we cannot, but see the technology as a part of ourselves in a way. It differs a lot, as do people, but the senses seem to adhere to technology now, in a way that one would have not thought of a machine or a program before.

Task 11 NIE – comparing components

– did we come up with all the necessary components for analyzing and describing interactive systems?

The amount of components is quite huge and yes, I do believe that we came up with all the necessary components to describe interactive systems. And because of the amount of the components we are able to account for and go along with the possible changes that take place during the interaction process.

– what components seem irrelevant? Why? Also currently we have a long list of components, which can be definitely shorten. How would you do that?

There are indeed a couple of components that firstly seem a bit irrelevant and also a bit too repetative. For example the timeframe, time management and schedule are quite close together and rule two out. And with that, we can remove the start and the end, because they are already in the timeframe. Interrelatedness is something that is a give component in every system, so I believe that it does not have to be marked up. Methodology is a bit vague and the main components of it have been put down separately. Tere are a couple more components like project manager, evaluation criteria, task, software, sequence, workmanship are either duplicated by another component or unnecessary to be mentioned in a component list. The main reason for removing a lot of these components is, for me, relevancy in the overall view of the interaction process and the ability to grasp and understand the build-up of the process.

– do what degree the list of components is concurrent with the components of the activity theory framework?

There are a lot of similar components to the activity theory framework although many of them in a slightly different wording. The main components of the build up system are still the same, like object(result), subject, tools, rules, community and division of labour(actors).

– are there components which are not covered by the activity theory framework, but the activity theory framework could benefit from?

If I take a look at the different components that could useful and beneficial in the activity theory, I come up with three :Trigger, quality, time. Firstly the trigger is not mentioned or adhered in the process as such. The participants are aware of the actual result, or object needed to fulfil or reach. Quality is also a very important thing to consider and, as far as I see, in the activity theory, the quality part is a bit left aside and the result in a sense is only kept in mind. Finally Time. Time is also not defined as a definite factor and timeline is not set as one of the components, which is very important in acheiveing tasks and results in a controlled and timely manner.

Task 9 – Activity Theory

A summary of my understanding of activity theory and its potential for describing activity systems. An activity is the minimal meaningful context to understand individual actions.

First off, broadly defined, Activity Theory is a philosophical and cross-disciplinary framework for studying different forms of human practices as development processes, both individual and social levels interlinked at the same time. According to the article by K. Kuuti ((1995). Activity theory as a potential framework for human-computer interaction research. In. B. Nardi (Ed.), Context and Consciousness: Activity Theory and Human Computer Interaction. Cambridge: MIT Press), the activity theory has three main characteristics: Activities are basic units of analysis, activities develope and activities always contain various artifacts.

To follow these characteristics and especially the first one, then activities, which make up the whole process, have a certain structure. Since there are various artifacts in play than two possibilities have been brought out. Firstly the basic structure of mediated relationship at an individual level, which contains the relation between the subject, the object and the tool. These three combined, go through a transfomation process and produce an outcome. This outcome is ,however, too simple to fulfil the needs of a consideration of the systemic relations between an individual and his environment in an activity. So to complement the activity structure, one must add rules, the community and the division of labour into the formula.

The main thing to bear in mind is that the activity theory can be used to conceptualize and assist in the development of processes and different activities. We can try and utilize the analysis outcomes within a human driven process, to help us prevent mistakes, offsets. Also there is a possibility to use the information to outperform human actors/factors in a process or even skip them completely if it makes the process or activity better. But, as it is also stated in the article by K. Kuuti, we must keep in mind the evolvement of activities and considering the cost of improvements, it might be often better to let the human factor develope.

Task 8 – From Personal to Mass Media

Some thoughts, ideas and questions on the article „Conceptualizing personal Media“ by Marika Lüders.

Firstly I do see that the differences pointed out by the author are relevant and on topic. Although the main question for me was concerning the identification of mass media. Especially the part of interaction. In my experience, mass media is information from one mediator to a mass. The interaction there is defined and controlled by one side and that is the side of the information provider. In my mind, information provided in a weblog or a personal webpage is not mass media. There are indeed some similarities that have been pointed out by the author (page 690-691) that I do agree with. I also agree with the way the author approaches the necessity for involvement as an important part in defining mass or personal media. In personal media, it is very important for the participants to be actively involved in the process whereas in mass media, as stated before, the main part of the work is done by the information provider.

Altogether, I do agree that in today’s world the lines have become more obscure with social media and collaborative media. But I still believe that there are certain strict differences to bear in mind when classifying media because the interaction processes are quite different.

Task 7 – Interactivity NOW

In the recent two articles that I read about interactivity and the definition of it – Kiousis, S. (2002) Interactivity: a concept explication. New Media & Society, SAGE Publications, Vol 4(3):355–383 and Jensen, J.F. (1998). Interactivity: tracking a new concept in media and communication studies. Nordicom Review, 19(1), 185-204 – interactivity, as a whole process has changed a lot. Since I have worked with a lot of conventional media, concerning advertising and such, I have always seen interactivity as a part of them also. The first article by Jensen strongly suggests that interactivity should be looked at through the eyes of sociologists and psychologists. And what is missing in my eyes is that interaction can also be manifested while communicating with a computer. The same applies to conventional media. People viewing advertisements on TV or on a poster, do also interact with the medium. They might not be able to change the state of the medium but they can change for example their attitudes towards the message.

During the last decade, interaction has evolved, not so much changed. The ways of interacting through technology have also changed the way that we see our surroundings, our culture, the world. In some views interaction remains only there, where something can be altered or where someone/something provides you with a visible or audible response.

These points aside, interaction concerning the advances in the technological world have put us in a situation where we have certain expectations towards communicating with each other and with the cultural network. First and foremost, we have overcome the obstacles of locating the partner for interaction. In the early 2000s there were chatrooms and messaging systems that enabled us to interact with people via the computer. But the opportunity of connecting with someone outside of that current medium (chatroom, friends list) was somewhat complicated. Nowadays with the advanced media, we are able to instantly locate and interact, not only with a person on the other side of the world, of who we did not know anything about a couple of moments ago, but also interact with a whole (massive) group at the same time. Interaction is now more community rather than peer based.

Technology has also brought to masses, the possibility to not only text or e-mail through the computer, but also to have vast communication/interaction mediums like second life and massive multiplayer games. The opportunity of video chat via different devices is also a big step that we were able to see only in the movies (except for some lucky individuals).

To come back to my first point that interaction is still in all of media, I do hope that it will not be used only to describe the communication between human and machine or communication mediated by a device. I see interaction in everything that we do or see. It alters our behavior and  way of perception. Interaction should not be only computer and technology based, although that is what we perceive and aknowledge the most.

Task 6 – Interactivity

I am writing this post to summarize the article by Kiousis, S. (2002) titled “Interactivity: a concept explication”.

The emphasis of the article is on going through different approaches towards defining interactivity in different fields. Firstly the author brings out different uses of interactivity and especially we find that interactivity is associated with new communication technologies like especially the internet and worldwide web. While comparing this piece to the previous one we had to go through on the subject, this one seems to be more up to date and looking towards future enhancements in the technological field.

The article brings up one debate which is indeed important on the whole matter of interactivity. Interaction is considered to be manifestable in various ways. By some it is considered that interactivity is to an interdependence of messages Bretz (1983), and for others it is more technologically determined (Steuer 1992). From my perspective I would not like to describe interaction by only being manifested if there is a certain medium(a computer, the network, software) to transfer the message, but that has also been taken into consideration.

There is also a proposal and build-up in the article on how to test and measure the level of ‘perceived interactiveness’. The build up seems to touch all the main parts and aspects that were and are relevant in order to test the level of interactivity but concerning technological developments it might need overlooking in the future.For the most part, Kiousis tries to come up with a common framework in order to to build a defininition for interactivity which would satisfy all the sides and also bring some consensus on the matter. It is indeed quite difficult to do and as the author states, it is not definitive in any way. All-in-all, interactivity is described and defined taking into account all the sensory aspects that a user can describe and feel (proximity, perceived speed, sensory activation), the actual context (social presence and dependency) and the structure and capabilities of technology at a certain time. I believe that it is an overall good way to sum up the definition but is still a bit vague.




Task 5 – interactivity

The information provided in the article is somewhat different to the current knowledge on the matter and is in context with the acnowledgements of the period. Also a lot on influence on the matter is taken from different sociological aspects of that time. The interaction styles and methods have come a long way since then.

The whole process of interaction has been written down according to future possibilities of interactivity that in many ways have come true. Also the focus on interactivity as a process in different fields now is indeed different than the article suggests. But as far as computer sciences are concerned, interactivity at that time was farely uncommon. Nowadays the interactivity between man and machine has changed to a status that allows us to use the medium in a lot of different ways that were not aknwledged then.

The interaction and interactvity in information technology allows us to use all the four communication patterns put down by Bordewijk and Kaam and more. The interaction today uses these different patterns at a time and provides options to vary between using mutiple ways of using the medium.

At the end of the article Jens F. Jensen sums up interactivity and divides it into four subcategories(can be seen as three also): transitional, consultational, conversational and registrational interactivity. For that period in time it might have been correct but today it provides a more compact and diverse solution. Firstly the the transitional and consultational interactivity have blended together indeed. So the client has the ability to use whatever service and interact with it and also has a return channel at the same time. Secondly, almost all services simultaneously provide registrational and conversational interactivity.

To sum up, the actual meaning of interactivity has changed alot concerning computer sciences and the main reason is the rapid development of technology. The aspects and views provided are correct but they have altered and changed over time quite a lot.

Task 3 – comparing

To compare different approaches to creating a study plan, I looked through five plans that were made up by: Valeria, Kerstin, Kairi, Maria and Argo.

First and foremost I noticed thad everybody has used some sort of technology to draw a simple plan concerning the studies. That is indeed a big plus and helps one understand very quickly, what has been thought of and how the person has seen the steps. One difference was Kairi’s way of putting down different steps. Unlike all the others she used another and interesting approach to visualize the parts of creating a study plan.

One of the differences was that not all investigated study plans addressed the part of working hours and personal time. Of course, it might be that a person is not currently employed, but I think that it is a very important thing to keep in mind while planning for studies over such a long period of time.

Also a couple of study plans included lots of details concerning the actual studies period. It might be useful indeed but usually the information on tools and necessary items for a course is not so clear already in the planning period.

Of course there were differences in interlinking the activities. Some considered planning in a hierarchical form, while others more of a coexisting type. I think that depends on a lot of factors and is mostly up to the person actually doing the planning. So no pros or cons here

Overall the plans are mostly similar when looking at the contents and information that has been taken into consideration. So it really depends on personal views, how one addresses the planning cycle. They seem to be all valid.