Things That Keep Us Busy

Things That Keep Us Busy

The Elements of Interaction

By Lars-Erik Janlert and Erik Stolterman

An investigation of interactivity, interfaces and their design, and the webs of complex interactions that result.





An investigation of interactivity, interfaces and their design, and the webs of complex interactions that result.

We are surrounded by interactive devices, artifacts, and systems. The general assumption is that interactivity is good—that it is a positive feature associated with being modern, efficient, fast, flexible, and in control. Yet there is no very precise idea of what interaction is and what interactivity means. In this book, Lars-Erik Janlert and Erik Stolterman investigate the elements of interaction and how they can be defined and measured. They focus on interaction with digital artifacts and systems but draw inspiration from the broader, everyday sense of the word.

Viewing the topic from a design perspective, Janlert and Stolterman take as their starting point the interface, which is designed to implement the interaction. They explore how the interface has changed over time, from a surface with knobs and dials to clickable symbols to gestures to the absence of anything visible. Janlert and Stolterman examine properties and qualities of designed artifacts and systems, primarily those that are open for manipulation by designers, considering such topics as complexity, clutter, control, and the emergence of an expressive-impressive style of interaction. They argue that only when we understand the basic concepts and terms of interactivity and interaction will we be able to discuss seriously its possible futures.


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262036641 240 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 5 b&w illus.


  • Modern people interact with many devices that interact with them—like smartphones. They are empowered by these interactions, yet also distracted and isolated, phone-bound by thousands of swipes and taps per day. Janlert and Stolterman develop a conceptual framework for embodied interactivity, including measurement concepts for the scope and complexity of afforded interactions.

    John M. Carroll

    Distinguished Professor of Information Sciences and Technology, Pennsylvania State University; author of Making Use and The Neighborhood in the Internet

  • In a field awash with superficial how-to manuals promising ready-to-go principles for simple and usable interaction, it is easy to lose sight of what Interaction Design is all about. This book offers some guidance. Based on more than twenty years of experience, Janlert and Stolterman provide nuanced concepts, a rich vocabulary, as well as provocative thoughts about interaction and interactivity. All that is needed to turn readers into reflective interaction designers.

    Marc Hassenzahl

    Professor for Ubiquitous Design, Experience and Interaction, University of Siegen; author of Experience Design