Formatting presence

Quillinan agrees that one can describe computers and systems as formatting tools of human presence. The interaction, the formatting, it tends to be depended on the application, he argues.

If you’re just trying to communicate in one way, versus two way communication, then a big screen with data in a very clear organized fashion is fine. Where as you want to have interaction you have to have a different sort of set-up. Other aspects of formatting, according to Quillinan, are scale, impact and how many interactions one actually wants to have. On the one hand a person’s impact on the world is larger on the Internet, you have much more ability to reach people in many more places. But it is also smaller, because it’s one voice among billions rather than thousands in a big speech, for example.

When designing interaction between human beings and computers, certain values are important. To Quillinan pleasing the eye is a very important value: in the user interface, the ability to look at something and feel comfortable with the colours, the styles, is very important. The original computers interacted by flashing lights at you and now they allow you to feel more comfortable with what’s going on. They do this by emulating something physical, representing physical things like folders and a desktop to make interaction more smooth. Other values like transparency and identity for example, computers do not have. As stated before, for Quillinan it are tools that facilitate communication and relations.