I N T E R A C T I V E  D E S I G N  F O R U M
A book that inspires.


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Reviewed & recommended:

Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen

The Interactive Book by Celia Pearce


Other books that explore the nature of computer-based media (reviewed at Amazon.com):

Hamlet on the Holodeck by Janet Horowitz- Murray
Hypertext and beyond.

Computers as Theatre by Brenda Laurel
Think of the computer not as a tool, but as a medium.


In association with






the interactive book
Celia Pearce, Macmillan Technical Publishing (1997)
ISBN 1-57870-028-0 [more info, buy it]

OK, maybe I love it because she's said all the things I wish that I'd have said.

I have nearly two dozen books on my shelf that deal with interactive multimedia in one form or another. The first thing I learned is that any book with the word "multimedia" in its title is likely to be long on technical information and short on imagination.

Less predictable titles like Computers as Theatre (Brenda Laurel) and Hamlet on the Holodeck (Janet Murray) have given me much more to think about: vision, not techniques. I recommend them both. But "the interactive book"? The title wasn't promising, and the subtitle: "a guide to the interactive revolution" was worse yet. Rather than describing the book, I'm going to give you a few excerpts that stand out to me. If you find yourself nodding in agreement as you read them, you'll like the book.

"Interactivity craves meaning. It needs motivation, and it longs for emotional, as well as intellectual content." (p. 219)

"Interface design is another way to think about experience, but interface is only half of it. Interface is the end of experience, not the beginning. It is characteristic of interactive designers, especially those from the graphics disciplines, to think that interface IS experience. But the experience should be designed before the interface; the interface is merely a way to facilitate an experience."

"Awareness and understanding of the dramatic act of decision-making is the missing ingredient in most interactive experiences. Film writers and directors have been adept for years at sculpting these moments of decision-making to draw us in and manipulate our emotions ... Ironically, interactive designers, trained in the technical aspect of the 'decision point,' seem hard-pressed to understand the emotional and intellectual ramifications, the drama, the intensity of decision-making and its power. It is precisely this lack of understanding that results in interactive experiences that, although sometimes entertaining and even compelling, lack the kind of emotional power that we experience in films and even novels." (p. 159)


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