Pliability As An Experiential Quality: Exploring The Aesthetics Of Interaction Design

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Jonas Löwgren


Digital design materials are temporal as much as they are spatial, which means that specific concepts are needed for understanding the use experiences of digital artifacts and the aesthetics of interaction design. In this paper, the quality of pliability is introduced to characterize the degree to which interaction feels involving, malleable, and tightly coupled – and hence to what degree it facilitates exploration and serendipity in use. Three sets of contrasting artifact examples from different domains (online maps, digital-image management, and online thesauri) are analyzed with regard to pliability. It is argued that the use of everyday digital products, normally perceived as instrumental and utility oriented, has an important experiential-aesthetic dimension consisting of temporal and visuo-tactile qualities (including pliability). The paper concludes with a discussion of related work and the role of experiential qualities in interaction design.

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