Bret Victor's rant about the future of interactivity makes sense to me, and had I read it a few years back I would have probably agreed with everything... but given the explosion of technology, our dependence on it and the excess of it, my first reaction reading his rant was that perhaps it's good that we interact with the digital data driven world in this manner – "Picture Under Glass" – that there's a clear distinction when we're going from "real world" to "digital world", that we can take a break from the "digital" world by being "screen-free" for a while... what would this look like if the digital was more seamlessly integrated into the physical/analog world? I'm imagining something akin to DynamicLand, assuming that is where his rant lead to, and to me, that feels like too much of a digital intrusion on analog life. (maybe i'm a bit of a luddite?)
Also, coming from a place where one can't rely on a stable internet connection, or stable power sans voltage fluctuations, I cringe at the idea of digital gadgets embedded into our physical environment, inviting us to use more of our bodies to interact with them. I can't help but imagine what the gesture of frustration would look like in this world – i.e., the equivalent to us banging a key on a keyboard when something doesn't work... would we repeatedly be performing the same full-body gesture over and over again, with increasing rage and frustration, hoping to conform correctly to what this future-gadget wants of us... sounds tiring.
This is not to say that I dismiss everything he says, there's definitely a point there to think about in the context of interaction design – moving beyond the screen, keyboard and trackpad for digital-related experiences, and exploring the natural "human capability" side of tool-making and experience-making.
Crawford's definition of interactivity – a cyclic process in which two actors alternately listen, think, and speak – seems like a good loose definition. I appreciate that he acknowledges there are degrees to interactivity. It made me think of Don Norman's book, The Design of Everyday Things, and question whether a door is interactive... I think it is. There is some "thinking" that happens, in the form of mechanical processing. Crawford talks about his opinion on some threshold of complexity required for interaction, and I think we don't think of the mechanics of the door as complex simply because we're used to it and take it for granted, and we can mostly see the mechanics at play. With digital interactions, there is an element of mystery since we can't see electricity move around, and perhaps that creates an illusion of additional complexity.
Our discussion in class – whether a light switch is interactive – made me think of the Hydraulic Integrator – a calculus-equation-solving-water-based machine(!) made in 1936. Perhaps this threshold of complexity is the main point of divergence in the subjective definition of interactivity, and possibly also the threshold of circularity in feedback... i.e., is it a one-time action-reaction, or is there a longer feedback loop / how much of a loop is required for something to be interactive?