Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Interface what? (attempt #2)

Even after reading Soren Pold’s close, 13-page analysis of I didn’t understand what the intertface was. He does define it on the bottom of page 2, but I was still unclear as it what it was exactly that was being discussed.


The way I usually clarify murky definitional situations is to pay a visit to dictionary.com. When I typed in “interface,” the site came back with an exhaustive list of entires. I read through the different ones, trying to decide which one best described the interface we had read about and discussed. After I had finished, I decided that the interface in question is ALL of these definitions, and that many of the entries were actually also describing other facets of human-computer interaction that have come up in the Pold, Manovich, and Haley’s work.


1.a surface regarded as the common boundary of two bodies, spaces, or phases. I thought this sounded like the computer screen. Although we sometimes tend to thing of the screen as the computer, it’s actually just the visual representation of the functions that are occurring within the machine we’re operating. 


2. the facts, problems, considerations, theories, practices, etc., shared by two or more disciplines, procedures, or fields of study: the interface between chemistry and physics. This definition seems to harken back to Haraway and her notion of the cyborg, as well as to the idea that we are the machine/the machine is us that the Professor from Kansas State University was arguing for in his YouTube video.


3. a common boundary or interconnection between systems, equipment, concepts, or human beings. Or even between equipment (like computers) and human beings. I think this could definition could also refer to code for its role as shared language between humans and computers. Perhaps this interconnection is an internet server, the keyboard of a computer, or the touch screen on an ATM, or a videogame controller- whatever medium it is that allows for the human/computer connection to occur.


4.communication or interaction: Interface between the parent company and its subsidiaries has never been better. In terms of computers and humans, this sounds a lot like code…


5. a thing or circumstance that enables separate and sometimes incompatible elements to coordinate effectively: The organization serves as an interface between the state government and the public. The computer is the ultimate multi-tasking machine. It allows us to download software, play music, type an e mail or essay, talk with a friend via video chat or Skype, play a game of Solitaire, edit photos, create a song, and organize our photos all at the same time if we really want to! No where but outside the digital realm could we attempt all of those operations at the same time, or even, for that matter, in the same space. 

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