Is interactivity a crucial or trivial part of text, in terms of knowledge work?

Frode asks (Facebook status update, 20151027) “Is interactivity a crucial or trivial part of text, in terms of knowledge work?”

The trivial superficial response is “trivial”. The deeper crucial response is “crucial”. But beyond the wordplay gamification:

I’ll respond in terms of “how we experience text”.

When I am “reading” as in “consuming text”, inasmuch as “text” can appear like what used to be called “paper”, and inasmuch as paper could be viewed as “non-interactive”, then the answer here would be on the “trivial” side of the question. Insofar as we are LIVE, as in living beings, and living beings shift focus from object / issue to object / issue, and physically move, and receive dynamic stimuli from varied sources… then as we “experience text”, we will need to contend with a number of distractions, and attend to a number of ancillary needs, as we try to extract as much meaning and understanding as possible from that text.

  • For example, I may encounter a topic, concept, or term that I am unfamiliar with. I may most optimally need to divert myself to addressing that knowledge gap so that I can then optimally experience the original text / document with the best possible frame of mind to leverage that text for whatever purposes.
  • In another example, I may want to drill into a particular presentation or line of reasoning, and may want to “lay it out” spatially, or reorganize it some way, so I can look at associated “nodes” or “chunks” of knowledge, to really follow implications and make the most of the connection points between the material and my existing mental model.
  • I may need to put my ingest of the material (reading) on “pause”, as life gets in the way of my full attention. After the distraction, I may need to reconstruct my mental context, which may have been lost while I dealt with the demands of that life distraction.l
  • I may want to create a citation, or note, or “transclusion” of some sort… so that I can add a snippet or the entire work into my “personal knowledge repository”.
  • I’m sure I can come up with more use cases…

So my more serious response is that interactivity is a key enabling mode that can be designed, optimized, adapted, etc. so that knowledge work can be as effective as possible.

Written on October 27, 2015