Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate

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Basic Books, 1997 - Computers - 264 pages
12 Reviews
Steven Johnson bridges the gap that yawns between technology and the arts. Drawing on his own expertise in the humanities and on the Web, he not only demonstrates how interfaces - those buttons, graphics, and words on the screen through which we control information - influence our daily lives, but also tracks their roots back to Victorian novels, early cinema, and even medieval urban planning. The result is a lush cultural and historical tableau in which today's interfaces take their rightful place in the lineage of artistic innovation. With Interface Culture, Johnson brilliantly charts the vital role interface design plays in modern society. Just as the great novels of Melville, Dickens, and Zola explained a rapidly industrializing society to itself, he argues, Web sites, Microsoft Bob, flying toasters, and the landscapes of video games tell the digital society how to imagine itself and how to get around in cyberspace's unfamiliar realm. The role once played by novelists is now fulfilled by the interface designer, who has bridged the gap between technology and everyday life by providing a conceptual framework for the vast amounts of information and computation that surround us. Johnson boldly explores the past - a terrain hardly any tech thinker has dared enter and one that throws dazzling light on the modern interface's roots. From the great cathedrals of the Middle Ages to the rise of perspective drawing in the Renaissance, from Enlightenment satire to the golden age of television, Interface Culture uses a wealth of venerable "interface innovation" to place newfangled creations like Windows 95 and the Web in a rich historical context. Interface Culture also looks at the future - from what PC screens will look like in ten years to how new interfaces will alter the style of our conversation, prose, and thoughts. With a distinctively accessible style, Interface Culture brings new intellectual depth to the vital discussion of how technology has transformed society, and is sure to provoke wide debate in both literary and technological circles.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - esquetee - LibraryThing

I am loving this book and have fantasies about teaching a class using this as a textbook. It's like opening a time capsule from 1997 with wonderful surprises inside, such as the very first computer ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jonas.lowgren - LibraryThing

One of very few examples aimed at exploring a critic’s possible position in interaction design. Johnson addresses topics such as links and hypertext, multiple windows, and the desktop metaphor and ... Read full review

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About the author (1997)

Steven Johnson has been named one of the most influential people on Cyberspace by Newsweek, New York magazine, and Websight magazine. He is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Feed, the award-winning on-line cultural magazine. He lives in New York City.

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