Interface Ecosystem, The Fundamental Unit of Information Age Ecology






  • The Information Age is the period of history in which products and services based on information and knowledge have principal economic value. Information artifacts are implements of use and aesthetic expressions that both reflect and create the ways in which people individually and collectively think and act. Interactive artifacts are designed to engage people in access to and development of knowledge and information. Their human computer interfaces are instances of a broader set of phenomena. Cultural, creative, technological, and everyday frames of reference, spoken languages, economic positions, programming languages, and runtime platforms converge through the lens of the interface nexus. It is necessary to abstract and extend our notion of interface and to contextualize the operation of interfaces amidst dynamic meshworks, in order to address these phenomena.

    With regard to life on earth, ecology investigates the web of relations between interdependent organisms and their surroundings. In the Information Age, people, activities, codes, components, and systems form the same kinds of interrelationships. Interfaces are the multidimensional border zones through which these relationships are constituted. Interface ecology investigates the dynamic interactions of media, cultures, and disciplines that flow through interfaces. The semiotic encodings of these wide-reaching systems of representation are their interactions’ building blocks. Interfaces recombine semiotic codes, forming hybrids.

    The ecosystems approach brings the perspectives of diverse disciplines to bear on what interfaces are, how they work, and how they can work. Disciplines, and the media, cultural, and epistemological forms to which they apply, are free to relate in meshworks, opening inquiry. No system of representation dominates; none are considered subordinate. Rather, they are interdependent elements, connected by referential flows of interaction.


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