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Computers as Theatre

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Featuring a new chapter that takes the student through virtual reality and beyond, this book presents a new theory of human-computer activity. It shows how similar principles can help students understand what people experience when interacting with computers. The book also describes how the user's enjoyment of a computer system should be the biggest design consideration.


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Featuring a new chapter that takes the student through virtual reality and beyond, this book presents a new theory of human-computer activity. It shows how similar principles can help students understand what people experience when interacting with computers. The book also describes how the user's enjoyment of a computer system should be the biggest design consideration.

30 review for Computers as Theatre

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joe White

    notes: Computers as Theatre second edition, 2014 Brenda Laurel Goodreads 5 stars finished Tue Jan. 7/2014 Very fluent syntax throughout - this is not a programming reference manual, and is so articulately written that you might have to shift thought patterns for absorption. There is no code or intro to UI programming topics. This was originally published in 1991 as a result of a thesis, and has obviously been updated to reflect growth in the computational industry since then. Take a look at the tab notes: Computers as Theatre second edition, 2014 Brenda Laurel Goodreads 5 stars finished Tue Jan. 7/2014 Very fluent syntax throughout - this is not a programming reference manual, and is so articulately written that you might have to shift thought patterns for absorption. There is no code or intro to UI programming topics. This was originally published in 1991 as a result of a thesis, and has obviously been updated to reflect growth in the computational industry since then. Take a look at the table of contents, as the topics as presented match the table, and my summary here is a poor rendition in a restatement format. This book describes fundamental rule approaches to thinking about what constitutes an interface (human-computer not an OO interface representation of a class). Naturally these rules stem from Aristotle's elements of design as he outlined them. The rules involve terms such as Formal clause, Material clause, Efficient cause, and End cause. These rules are discussed in terms of presentation in theatre. There are fundamental elements such as Plot, Character, Thought, Language, Pattern, and Enactment that are atomic constituents to the material and formal causes. Fundamental issues to a performance such as a time-frame in which to traverse from an introduction, through a rising action or tempo of expectation, a climax, a falling tempo and final catastrophe (denouement) or unwinding of the energy built during the performance are discussed. Fractal qualities of action are discussed. Dramatic inter-actors such as collaboration, constraints, and engagement are discussed in terms that can apply to theatre or any other measurable worldly event and interaction. Mediated collaboration as an overlay of the prior fundamental elements is discussed primarily in terms of game play. Interaction and interactions between players is portrayed as a design element that affects the perception of the outcome of an event. This is largely related to multi-player gaming. Several elements of semantic presence such as gender, persona, character, interface metaphors are related to a machine interface. Strategies and design heuristics are discussed in relation to actions and shapes of actions that affect the perception of outcome and complexity. Emotions, thoughts, and the need to understand a targeted audience are discussed in relation to the prior design heuristic elements. The final objective is to provide a successful outcome to the individual participant, with considerations to all of the design elements and interface elements of the human computer interactions contributing to what will be defined as a "successful" outcome. The successful outcome can be construed as having had a participant ending up satisfied with the outcome, possibly having achieved an intended purpose, and willing and able to repeat the interface actions on a return engagement. The final chapters of "Emergence", "Terrains in Interaction Design", and last chapter is "Design for the Good", stress the need for a more contemporary perspective of designing interaction in a more symbiotic form for human consumption. The book is loaded with interesting historical snippets highlighted in gray-backed note capsules. The people and topics mentioned include some of the avant-garde of the building of the computer age, and in themselves are worth the read of the book. The author has a gender specific lean and indicates that more attention should be applied to gender emotional interactions with machines.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lew

    Brenda is a pioneer in human-computer interfaces. I think this book comes from her PhD thesis which envisioned the computer as a virtual place to dream, to laugh, to cry and to play video games !

  3. 4 out of 5

    Julia Kulgavchuk

    tl;dr: The essentials of contemporary digital product design were laid out by Aristotle. We've known for a long time what makes a good theatre piece: Aristotle and other bright people after him articulated dramatic principles well. Turns out, these dramatic principles can help us create digital products that are both effective and enjoyable. Brenda Laurel’s book explains how a designer can use Aristotle to get there. Laurel introduces Aristotle’s six structural elements of drama and applies them t tl;dr: The essentials of contemporary digital product design were laid out by Aristotle. We've known for a long time what makes a good theatre piece: Aristotle and other bright people after him articulated dramatic principles well. Turns out, these dramatic principles can help us create digital products that are both effective and enjoyable. Brenda Laurel’s book explains how a designer can use Aristotle to get there. Laurel introduces Aristotle’s six structural elements of drama and applies them to human-computer activity. They are: action, character, thought, language, melody (pattern), spectacle (enactment). There is a causal relationship in both directions: action gives shape to character, character gives shape to thought and so on (Aristotle’s formal cause); conversely, enactment builds up pattern, pattern builds up language, language builds up thought and so on (Aristotle’s material cause). When it comes to the plot, there’s a sequence from exposition to denouement — this is a whole action. There’s value in approaching tasks as a whole action: a spreadsheet software can help with all aspects of making a calculation, from entering initial data to visualising results, in a more powerful way that a bunch of disparate papers. So what to do with this knowledge? Start with designing the action rather than environment, interfaces and objects. Then move to characters, representing sources of agency, and further down along the list: functionality, design patterns, visual design, UI copy... Enactment — the essence of dramatic experience that appeal to both thought and emotion — is the very user experience (the term wasn’t used in the book published in 1991). Drama people got so good at creating outstanding experiences. Designers can learn something there. Now with voice interfaces, computers are sharper than ever perceived as characters. With conversational UIs, action through the dialogue is what happens. Like in drama. So we can as well try a design methodology based on Aristotle.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    It feels like there was a trade-off in going for the second edition, which at least makes mention of newer and more readily available technology like smartphone and apps, but each mention of the earlier edition, or indeed earlier technologies (like all computers and gaming consoles prior to tablets and Nintendo Wii, feels like I am missing out on discoveries that might have changed the world. Now it seems like mostly backhanded compliments to current design. Much of the praise goes to herself, o It feels like there was a trade-off in going for the second edition, which at least makes mention of newer and more readily available technology like smartphone and apps, but each mention of the earlier edition, or indeed earlier technologies (like all computers and gaming consoles prior to tablets and Nintendo Wii, feels like I am missing out on discoveries that might have changed the world. Now it seems like mostly backhanded compliments to current design. Much of the praise goes to herself, obviously well-earned over the decades, and her circle of community players representing the Northern Californian elite who survived the dot-com burst. Aristotle's Poetics as a theoretical frame is a nice touch, but I wonder how many programmers took up the Computer as Theatre challenge?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    So much fun to read, so good and so...glib about the future. Not that I mind the optimism, God knows I need it given the gutting of higher education, the money we're not putting in to K-12, the devaluing of both science and the humanities...but Laurel ends on this note that idolizes future possibilities that are, inherently, problematic. Yes, there's so much cool stuff left to do and all is nowhere near lost. But she lacked the nuance that lets one speak well of good, but problematic things.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Introduction to techno-utopianism, by Brenda Laurel.

  7. 5 out of 5

    RS'S

    the theme of catarsis Is quite interesting, itS precise and entertaining!

  8. 5 out of 5

    James Mulholland

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sami Köykkä

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Boland

  11. 5 out of 5

    John

  12. 5 out of 5

    Joan Vick

  13. 5 out of 5

    DAVID

  14. 5 out of 5

    R G

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nancy Hirstein Smith

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nelson Zagalo

  17. 5 out of 5

    Luís Gouveia

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jeff C. Kunins

  19. 5 out of 5

    Paco Nathan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Vilmibm

  21. 5 out of 5

    Benji

  22. 4 out of 5

    Silvia

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  24. 4 out of 5

    nattropaic

  25. 4 out of 5

    Yaman Aydin

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ada Qi

  27. 5 out of 5

    David

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angela Raby

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stacey Mason

  30. 5 out of 5

    Geoffrey Long

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