//10 November 2017

Interface communication

A realisation hit me as I opened my text editor to write some lines. There’s a peculiar breed of communication which proves greatly satisfying for certain people. I’d call it “interface communication”.

“Ah,” I hear you think, “yes, everybody’s on Twitter nowadays. I feel you, bro.” But I’m not discussing the obvious reality of folks talking mostly on the Internet or using platform X. My mind drifts towards a broader, perhaps slightly different category of human behaviour: our romance with interfaces.

By “interface communication” I mean all active interactions of a person with software, machinery, technology itself rather than using it to connect with other people. Active, not passive though—writing code or an essay counts, watching sea turtle videos doesn’t (sorry, sea turtles!)

In the web domain, UX fellows are researching exactly this modern marriage of man and the machine. Usually it’s with the goal of making the user experience even more thrilling for us. However, the fact that all this works wouldn’t be a fact if we didn’t fancy interface communication in the first place.

So why do we enjoy it? And why some people seem to enjoy it even more than talking to other humans?

The easiest solution I can come up with is a good old drop of narcissism. Interacting with software makes us feel important and skilled. Our creations look stunning when rendered by a computer, or so we think. Setting up a blog with a fancy design somehow seems more “real” or “serious” than a written journal, even if the content is the same and nobody else reads it in both cases.* *Although I agree that formatting your work in a presentable manner does imrpove it, usually.

Interfaces give pleasure by letting us indulge in our own worlds while also being there for us—not to judge, just to make it all less lonely. It’s a sweet compromise between solitude and other people (who, according to some, are Hell). If you agree with the whole introverts-extroverts divide, this even makes sense as everyone who is not extremely extroverted would benefit from the arrangement.

Isn’t there more to it, though? A desire for dialogue, maybe? I made it all sound quite pathetic. Or, as an interface lover, I just got too distracted by my sleek, precious text editor.