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Brenda Laurel's Computers as Theatre revolutionized the field of human-computer interaction, offering ideas that inspired generations of interface and interaction designers-and continue to inspire them. Laurel's insight was that effective interface design, like effective drama, must engage the user directly in an experience involving both thought and emotion. Her practical conclusion was that a user's enjoyment must be a paramount design consideration, and this demands a deep awareness of dramatic theory and ...
Brenda Laurel's Computers as Theatre revolutionized the field of human-computer interaction, offering ideas that inspired generations of interface and interaction designers-and continue to inspire them. Laurel's insight was that effective interface design, like effective drama, must engage the user directly in an experience involving both thought and emotion. Her practical conclusion was that a user's enjoyment must be a paramount design consideration, and this demands a deep awareness of dramatic theory and technique, both ancient and modern.
Now, two decades later, Laurel has revised and revamped her influential work, reflecting back on enormous change and personal experience and forward toward emerging technologies and ideas that will transform human-computer interaction yet again. Beginning with a clear analysis of classical drama theory, Laurel explores new territory through the lens of dramatic structure and purpose. Computers as Theatre, Second Edition, is directed to a far wider audience, is written more simply and elegantly, is packed with new examples, and is replete with exciting and important new ideas.
Once more, Brenda Laurel will help you see the connection between humans and computers as you never have before-and help you build interfaces and interactions that are pleasurably, joyously right!
This paperback version of Brenda Laurel's 1991 hardcover classic features a new chapter that takes the reader through virtual reality and beyond to a new level of human computer interaction that is genuinely transforming. Provocative, practical, and thoroughly enjoyable reading, this book presents a new theory of human-computer activity.
"The future of our interactions with technology will build upon the foundations provided by Brenda Laurel in this deep, thought-provoking, and critically important book."
–Don Norman, Nielsen Norman Group; author of Design of Everyday Things, Revised and Expanded Edition
"An extremely timely update of a secret classic. Brenda Laurel will teach you a powerful and extremely refreshing way to look anew at things digital and the creation thereof. If you read the original, hit it again; it makes even better sense in the twenty-first century!"
–William Gibson, author of Distrust That Particular Flavor and Zero History
"Brenda Laurel's Computers as Theatre was one of the few truly transformative books to emerge in the heady, early days of the 'digital revolution,' demanding that we think of the computer as posing a series of creative problems that might best be addressed through the lens of the dramatic arts rather than purely technical problems that remain in the domain of the computer scientists. In this new edition, she revisits that classic text in light of her rich and diverse experiences as a designer, educator, and entrepreneur."
–Henry Jenkins, author of Spreadable Media: Creating Meaning and Value in a Networked Culture
"Read this-it's both scholarly and fun and runs your own internal models of human-computer interaction through a series of gymnastics that will loosen and broaden your thinking about UI issues forever."
–Howard Rheingold, author of The Virtual Community, Smart Mobs, and Net Smart
"This new edition is livelier and cooler than ever. It is absolutely required reading for anyone interested in computers and their influence on culture. Thank you, Dr. Laurel, for a wild ride!"
–Mary Flanagan, inventor, designer, and author of Critical Play
"The revision of this perennial classic is long overdue, and Laurel's thoughtful revisiting of her influential ideas from more than two decades ago does not disappoint. Her book bridges the intellectual heritage of our distant past (Aristotle), our recent past (Engelbart, Kay, Bushnell), and our present state of affairs concerning computers, illustrated by colorful, anecdotal parables."
—Celia Pearce, Associate Professor of Digital Media, Georgia Tech; author of Communities of Play: Emergent Cultures in Multiplayer Games and Virtual Worlds
"The arts have the power to grab hold of us, shape our attention and action, and make us feel like an experience is complete and meaningful. Computers as Theatre, Second Edition, is the essential guide to integrating that power into the design of new technologies."
–Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Chair, Digital Arts and New Media, University of California, Santa Cruz; author of Expressive Processing
About the Author xxiii
Chapter 1: The Nature of the Beast 1
The Interface 2
Throw the Baggage Out 16
Theatre: More than an Interface Metaphor 28
Chapter 2: Dramatic Foundations–Part I: Elements of Qualitative Structure 41
Hoary Poetics 41
The Four Causes, or Why Things Are the Way They Are 49
The Six Elements and Causal Relations among Them 57
Chapter 3: Dramatic Foundations—Part II: Orchestrating Action 79
Whole Actions 79
Dramatic Potential: The “Flying Wedge” 82
Dramatic Anatomy 95
Chapter 4: Dramatic Interactors: Collaboration, Constraints, and Engagement 109
Human-Computer Interaction as Mediated Collaboration 110
Engagement: The First-Person Imperative 139
Chapter 5: Design Heuristics 149
Computer as Medium 149
Interface Metaphors: Powers and Limitations 151
The Primacy of Action 156
Designing Character and Thought 163
Understanding Audiences 170
Chapter 6: New Terrain in Interaction Design 177
Methods and Media 177
Extending the Geometry of Dramatic Interaction 199
Design for Emergence 207
Design for the Good 215