Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Reflection: Intro, Chapters 1-3

As Dr. Strate noted in class, I agree that Windows and Mirrors is an easy-read, so far at least. What I enjoyed most about the introduction and these three chapters were the analogies that Bolter and Gromala make somewhat constantly. For me, these analogies helped me understand more of what the authors were actually explaining to us readers. For an example, I enjoyed the comparisons that Web sites are the pipe in which information flows to us, every digital artifact must be both a window and a mirror, the "Wizard of Ozzing" term that compares the programmer to the "man behind the curtain," and finally, the comparison of magicians to designers. However, I must note that although magicians and designers are similar, the magician never wants his audience to see behind his curtain, where designers do want their users to be able to get behind the illusion at certain times. Overall, in my opinion, these comparisons put somewhat the history of the world wide web, interactive design, and the myth of transparency into perspective.

I also noticed that these authors definitely would side with Marshall McLuhan's "The medium is the message" theory. The authors state, "When we surround ourselves with multimedia in this way, the various media forms constitute the experience for us. This is a contemporary alternative to transparency: it is the mirror rather than the window-- the strategy of reflection, multiplicity, self-awareness in action" (pg. 66). As McLuhan believes, it is not the message that matters, however it is the medium in which we receive the message which matters much more.

Finally, I'll also add the interesting point that the authors make that the timeline of GUI, Windows, and Mac computers has flourished for almost three decades because its rhythms of transparency and reflectivity make good sense for most users and for a variety of applications. Of course, many of us are comfortable with Windows computers because they are simple, and according to the authors, they were designed for people who did not know what they were doing, but when it comes down to it, we all want a Mac. In my opinion, whether we know it or not, we appreciate the medium much more than the message


  1. Designers want us to see the design, sure, but the design is a surface quality that stands between the user and the functioning of the technology.

    Good point about McLuhan (and good to see you carrying it over from last semester)--experience is the subjective experience of our environment.

  2. I liked the readings in this book. I thought they were easier then some of the other books we have been reading.