I like how Kathryn brought up the issue of how interactivity can has a potentially dystopian effect. She says that “because we are in control of the interaction, [we think that] what we see must be true.” It is actually a very legitimate concern, because governments, city officials, and other persons in authority have already confessed to making ‘placebo buttons’ to give citizens a sense of control so that the citizens in question feel they can still manipulate their surroundings when in fact, they are not in control of anything. This makes people more compliant and willing to go along with things, and thus subject to subtle manipulation. There are numerous examples of this ‘false interactivity’, such as cross walk buttons that don’t actually do anything (in New York), elevator ‘close door’ buttons that don’t work, etcetera. A lot of this touches on Ellen Langer’s theory of the Illusion of Control (1975). She defines it “as an expectancy of a personal success probability that exceeds the objective probability of the outcome.”
I thought this graph was really interesting, take a look:
How long do we have until this false interactivity is heightened to a point that our entire worlds are false realities perceived as truths? While levels of interaction go from medium (almost absentmindedly pushing a button) to more heavy (full integrated interactivity; conversations between content and user requiring constant input/output, like virtual reality) forms of interaction, our likelihood to become duped grows. As Oscar said in his post, high levels of interactivity allow the brain to focus on only the interaction at hand and little else— this makes people more susceptible to being tricked, because they won’t be able to use their brains to think ‘Hey, what if?’ since they will be too immersed in the experience to think about other possibilities.
While interactivity in this day and age can be a very good thing, like Curtis’s ‘Piano Staircase’ example, it can also have some more ominous effects as well. The internet art piece ‘Mouchette.org’ for example, is a supposedly 13 year old girl’s personal website, but is in fact an interactive website created by an artist who has remained strictly anonymous. The site features disturbing material that touches on dark themes (like suicide, sexual abuse, ect), and challenges the viewer to realize the fiction of reality.