Wiki as Theatre

Most of what I know about human nature I learned from the Theatre. Writing for, directing of, and performing in the theatre require talent and practice. I don't expect great works of federated wiki to be any different.

We will be well on our way when every school has a wiki department to go with the drama department, and every community hosts a corner of the federation brought to and integrated with its citizens' own work.

Don Norman

Foreword: Computers as Theater. post

Up to recently, computers interacted with people in a stilted, pedestrian manner. Each screen was a static display. Designers and those in the field of human-computer interaction tended to think of each screen as a fixed entity, making sure it was well-designed, understandable, and attractive. This is obviously good, but it isn't enough.

Real interaction does not take place in the moment, on a fixed, static screen. Real interaction is ongoing over a protracted period. It ebbs and flows, transitions from one state to another. Transitions are as important as states. Up to recently, the only computer systems that acted this way were games. But as students of the theatre have long known, we get the greatest pleasure from our ability to overcome early failures and adversaries. If everything runs perfectly and smoothly with no opportunity to deploy our powers and skills, pleasure is diminished.

Human emotion is sensitive to change: starting low and ending high is a far better experience than one that is always high. Is this a cry for deliberate placement of obstacles and confusions? Obviously not, but it is a cry for a look at the temporal dimensions, at engagement, agency, and the rise and fall of dramatic tension.

Brenda Laurel

Thinking about interfaces is thinking too small. Designing human-computer experience isn't about building a better desktop. It's about creating imaginary worlds that have a special relationship to reality--worlds in which we can extend, amplify, and enrich our own capacities to think, feel, and act.