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Interface Culture: How the Digital Medium--from Windows to the Web--Changes the way We Write, Speak [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Stephen Johnson
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8. Oktober 1997
"As our machines are increasingly jacked into global networks of information, it becomes more and more difficult to imagine the dataspace at our fingertips, to picture all that complexity in our mind's eye . . . Representing all that information is going to require a new visual language, as complex and meaningful as the great metropolitan narratives of the 19th-century novel."--from Interface Culture

In this hip, erudite manifesto, Steven Johnson--one of the most influential people in cyberspace, according to Newsweek 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 explain a rapidly industralizing 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 few tech thinkers have 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.

Controversial, clear-sighted and challenging, Interface Culture also looks at the future--from what PC screens will look like in 10 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.


  • Gebundene Ausgabe: 272 Seiten
  • Verlag: HarperOne (8. Oktober 1997)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0062514822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062514820
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 21,7 x 14,7 x 2,4 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 3.9 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (36 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 457.789 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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Steven Johnson turns the tables on the way we consider our computer interfaces. While many discussions focus on how interfaces help us work by adapting to our ways of thinking and our real-world metaphors, Johnson jumps from there to look at how our thinking and world view are altered by our computer interfaces.

He begins with the simple: The mouse improved the spatial nature of our computers by letting us move, by the proxy of our pointers, within the screen. The windows metaphor made cyberspace a 3-D space. And while we tend to think about the graphical nature of interfaces, Johnson also explores the textual side and how it has changed the way we work with the written word.

Interface Culture then goes on to show how, with each advance in technology, the interface shapes our perceptions in new ways. Where mice and windows turned the computing world into cyberspace, agents have created a perception of software as personality. On the larger scale, Johnson sees these tools, originally built on noncyber metaphors, as creating, in their turn, a new set of metaphors for looking at the rest of the world. And while he finds it exciting, he spends considerable time on such shortcomings in our approach to interfacing: what he considers the excessive emphasis on graphics elements at the cost of anything textual. Johnson, who is the editor of the cerebral Feed Web site and whom Newsweek called one of the most influential people in cyberspace, has written an intelligent book about interface design, its relationship to the real world, and how it affects our perception of worlds both cyber and physical.


The founder of "Feed," an on-line computer magazine, reveals the enormous impact interfaces--the visual icons and cues on a computer screen that help users navigate their way through a program--are having on society.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen easy to read 4. Mai 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
In his book, Steven Johnson explains how we use interfaces in our daily lives. He then moves from this to expound on user interfaces specific to digital media. His arguments for their revolutionary nature are clear and concise. He is not, however, swept away by current interfaces and he makes sure to point out the limitations which he finds in their designs. For example, he points out that GUIs are not actually graphic, but a mixture of graphics and text. The mouse and desktop metaphor of modern computer interface design are revolutionary, but the metaphor is limiting--it is time for new metaphors that would better serve users and better utilize technology such as hypertext.
While I agreed, to a certain extent, with his comments on television versus hypertext and the WWW, I feel that he overemphasized a competition between them. Nevertheless, his points regarding the passive receipt of a limited amount of information inherent to watching television and the active engagement with information inherent to the WWW are clear and well-reasoned.
I don't feel that he follows his own advice in his e-zine, FEED. The sheer volume of text seems to replicate the uses hard-copy magazines, and the use of hypertext becomes laborious and confusing. In light of his assessment of the uses of hypertext, and his plea for artists and programmers alike to find ways to break out of fixed or outdated metaphors to fully explore the limits of hypertext, I would like to see him break free from this himself.
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Yeah! The culture is understandable now 2. April 2000
Johnson has a very unusual, yet helpful way of explaining how we have come to our current level of human computer interaction. This book uses each of it's chapters to weave a perspective based in historical information as well as analogies and technical expertise. Johnson's skillful combination of the three elements paints a picture of understanding that turns on light bulbs for the reader.
Johnson's discussion of links as they relate to the internet and Dicken's favorite phrase "Links of association" allows the reader to understand why we are thrilled with the simplistic idea of linking. Then just as the reader is shaking their head yes, he expands the reader's mind to where the next phase of "linking" could/should go.
Another interesting discussion surrounds the need for more "pull" technology as Johnson feels this is what "...compelling interface design is about" (p.191)
While the book would be on the recommend list. It is important to note that as with many books about design, it sounds good in theory and it's ideas are ones to be sought after on a daily basis. Yet there is little "how to" in this book. In the end many may feel the need for some reality checks with regards to real feasability.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Opening Our Imaginations to "DataSpace" 30. Juli 2000
Von K. Rocap
In writing Interface Culture: How New Technology Transforms the Way We Create and Communicate, Steven Johnson seems to want us to open our imaginations wider to the potential of "dataspace." In some ways he is asking us to view the Internet and the World Wide Web anew.
Perhaps he worries that habits have already begun to form around the new media and that commonly evinced assumptions and metaphors of "cyberspace" have so strongly asserted themselves that we are in danger of forgetting that, for instance, "The Desktop" is only a metaphor, and a rather prosaic and limited one at that.
Johnson offers an alternative view of dataspace as being like a Victorian novel, with labyrinthine passageways, surprises around every corner, and as in the novels of Dickens the possibility of bumping into others, meeting online and being surprised by new or even long lost relationships.
Johnson entreats us to consider that while "the interface came into the world under the cloak of is now emerging - chrysalis-style - as a genuine art form" Unreflective habit and dusty assumptions are oppositional to the consideration of an art form. Further, if it is true that "the medium is the message" then it may be important to more closely consider the elements of interface that we may already be taking for granted. And, in some cases, such considerations raise issues not merely of artistic, but also of ethical, import.
What, for instance, are the implications for intellectual property of "framing" others' ideas in Windows within our own web pages?
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Connecting today to the past 20. April 2000
What do Beavis & Butthead, Talk Soup, and Entertainment Tonight all have in common? The answer is that they are all TV about TV. All of these shows, rather than being concerned with original content, comment on other TV shows. Beavis & Butthead comment on music videos, Talk Soup is a talk show roundup of what's happening on other Talk Shows, etc.
This is just one of many clear and insightful observations Steven Johnson makes in his book, Interface Culture. The book is a broad review of the growing role interface design plays in society. In describing the role of interface design, Johnson begins by putting it into historical perspective.
According to Johnson, the development of meta-media, like, "Talk Soup" happens whenever a medium becomes mature. It also develops when the content or subject matter begin to overwhelm the people who are dealing with it. He gives several historical examples of this including, Cave paintings, where artists painted what they saw in the natural world as a way of understanding it or to symbolically master it. Medieval cathedrals, where the sacred and profane worlds were modeled physically in stone and in stained glass in a way that an illiterate society could understand. Victorian novels. The industrial revolution brought about great changes to urban life in the 1800's Novels, such as those written by Charles Dickens helped an emerging middle class come to terms with the physical and cultural changes that were happening around them.
Interface design is just the latest mixture of art and science that develops, as it is needed, to help people deal with the massive cultural change of computers, data and the internet. The first sign of this change was the development of the desktop metaphor.
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Die neuesten Kundenrezensionen
2.0 von 5 Sternen I judged this book by the editorial reviews
The author has a great skill with the English language. His vocabulary is extensive, his skill with adjectives overwhelming. Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 13. Juli 2000 veröffentlicht
4.0 von 5 Sternen Metaphors for Interaction
Steven Johnson, in his provocative book, Interface Culture, defines interface as "software that shapes the interaction between user and computer." (p. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 10. April 2000 von Theresa M. Flynn, Doctoral Student, Pepperdine University
4.0 von 5 Sternen It's like, you know...
In Interface Culture, Johnson has found a way to reach the rest of us when it comes to connecting the human race to the world of computer technology. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 3. April 2000 von Jennifer Lamkins, Pepperdine University
4.0 von 5 Sternen Thinking about Interface Design
In Interface Culture, Johnson takes us on a whirlwind tour of his thoughts on the integration of technology and culture. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 3. April 2000 von Robin Lindbeck
3.0 von 5 Sternen Making Sense of Information
Steven Johnson describes the recurring theme in Interface Culture like one would describe a disruptive technology, as something that is not fully realized at the time that it is... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 2. April 2000 von Jennifer Ryan
4.0 von 5 Sternen Theory made readable
Steven Johnson makes the theory of computer interface and its impact on our culture understandable as he uses metaphor, example, and plain language to explore this complex issue. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 2. April 2000 von Kesten L. Blake
4.0 von 5 Sternen Looking behind the metaphors
In Interface Culture, Steven Johnson, opens our eyes to the way in which our interfaces have led us to where we are in the information age. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 1. April 2000 von George Lenno
4.0 von 5 Sternen The Fusion of Technology and Culture
Interface Culture is one of those books that comes along ever so often that helps you make sense of a seemingly disparate but conjunctive collection of emerging influences in life. Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 27. März 2000 von Henry L Smith
5.0 von 5 Sternen The Changing Face of Interface
Steven Johnson has found a way to use the metaphors of the computer (desktop, windows, links, and text) to explain the impact of those metaphors on not only how we use computers in... Lesen Sie weiter...
Veröffentlicht am 22. März 2000 von Ted Phillips
4.0 von 5 Sternen know your legacy to predict your future
Johnson's writings strike me strongest as a detailed and creative look at our history and the implications of our technological developments. Lesen Sie weiter...
Am 26. September 1999 veröffentlicht
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