Friday, 17 August 2012

The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction… Perceiving and Interpretation of the Relevant Calls to Action

O’Neill, S. (2008) Interactive Media: The Semiotics of Embodied Interaction. London: Springer-Verlag.

“screen-based interactive media are extremely semiotic in character. The symbols, graphics, and pictograms, as well as the layout and structure of its emerging forms, are all related to the remediation of older convergent media (…). The key difference is that it not only has to be perceived and interpreted to understand what it is but it also has to be used and manipulated to reveal what it does. The logic of immediacy is strong here in that much of the way in which interactive media is presented is often a simulation of previous, physical real-world media forms, e.g., drawing packages and word processing. However, the way in which those representations are conceptually structured often has to be very different from the older version, in order to take advantage of the computational aspects of remediation.” (p105)

The visual communication of affordances through the graphical user interface naturally involves perceiving and interpretation of the relevant calls to action at any one time. But it also involves communicating through user manipulation, what it does. To enact the desired behaviour in the user the visual communication has to attract attention, retain attention, communicate action, suggest how the affordance is to be manipulated and suggest the outcome. This is more than simply designing a “button.” The selection of the semiotic signs involved in this communication must appeal and make sense to the target audience, and that congruently make sense in the design. As Eco suggests there is much more to consider in the design of an interface’s visual communication, “The Principle that form follows function might be restated: the form of the object must, besides making the function possible, denote that function clearly enough to make it practicable as well as desirable, clearly enough to dispose one to the actions through which it would be fulfilled” (Eco, 1986, p63 cited in O’Neill, 2008, p113). 

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