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Figure 44.14: Skeuomorphism: Stitched leather look of an electronic calendar
Recently, skeuomorphism has been losing ground in interaction design. For instance, a Technopedia.com article (Technopedia, n.d.) notes that:
The design of the latest releases of some of the most popular digital environments, such as Windows 8 and iOS 7, shows a clear trend of moving away from skeuomorphism. As a recent BBC News Magazine article observes:
The brief overview of the affordances debate in HCI research, presented in the previous section, allows us to identify some common issues emerging from the debate. It should be noted that many of these issues are closely related to – and even overlap with – one another.
The relationship between affordances and perception has been a debated issue in HCI research for over two decades, with a general trend being toward progressively stricter separation of affordances from perception. This trend is especially apparent in the evolution of Norman’s interpretations of affordances, discussed in detail in Section 3 above. The evolution can be briefly presented as follows (footnote 13):
Inconsistency between Norman’s initial interpretation of affordances (Norman, 1988) and the original Gibsonian meaning of the term was noticed, discussed, and found problematic by several researchers, e.g., McGrenere and Ho (2000) and Tornvliet (2004). Soegaard (2009) observes:
Undoubtedly, these efforts aiming to clarify the difference between Norman’s and Gibson’s interpretations should get credit for resolving some terminological uncertainties. Such clarifications are important, since variations of early Norman’s interpretations of affordances, abandoned by Norman himself, can still be found in literature. For instance, a popular interaction design textbook describes affordance as the term, “…which is used to refer to an attribute of an object that allows people to know how to use it.” (Rogers et al., 2011).
At the same time, some attempts to clarify terminological problems go to the point of advocating the need to completely separate affordances and perception in order to return to the original Gibsonian notion. In particular, McGrenere and Ho (2000) claim that, according to Gibson, affordances are “independent of the actor’s experience, knowledge, culture, or ability to perceive” (italics added; for a critical analysis of this position see also Bonderup Dohn, 2009). A similar claim is made by Tornvliet (2003): “Gibson labored to make affordances a characteristic of the environment that exists relative to an object but independent of perception.” (italics added). There are reasons to believe that such a strict separation of affordances from perception is not unproblematic.
Independence of perception can be interpreted in three different ways, namely, as independence of: (a) the actor’s general ability to perceive the environment, (b) perceptual information about affordances in ambient energy array, and (c) whether or not the actor, who possesses the general ability to perceive, actually picks up information about an affordance, which information is present in ambient energy array. Arguably, it is only the last interpretation that is both accurate and relevant in the context of Gibson’s theory of affordances.
To claim that affordances are independent of an actor’s general ability to perceive is, apparently, wrong. Gibson’s emphasis on the tight coupling of perception and action implies that actor’s action capabilities include perception. It should be noted that in modern ecological psychology, affordances are commonly defined as “real possibilities for action for a perceiving-acting system” (Wagman and Carello, 2001, emphasis added). That perception is a key factor defining action capabilities can be illustrated with a simple example: if a car driver breaks his or her eyeglasses, the car can become “undrivable”. In that case an object’s affordances change not because something happens to the car but because the driver’s action capabilities become insufficient; and action capabilities become insufficient not because the driver is unable to make physical movements any more, but because of a diminished perceptual function.
The claim that affordances are independent of perceptual information about them in ambient energy array (as, for instance, in the case of a hidden door in a paneled room, see McGrenere and Ho, 2000) is probably formally correct but it is not directly relevant to Gibson’s theory of affordances. As already mentioned, Gibson (1979) emphasized that his theory of affordances was predominantly about whether information about affordances is available in ambient light, rather than whether affordances exist or are real. Therefore, Gibson’s theory of affordances is specifically concerned with possibilities for action, which are reflected in corresponding structures of ambient arrays of energy and thus can be perceived by the actor, and in the context of the theory it is more or less meaningless to analyze affordances independently of their relation to perceptual information. In this respect, Norman’s early perception-centered interpretation of affordances – apart from some terminological problems, as well as certain disagreements about the meaning of “direct pickup” (see Norman, 1988) – is, arguably, generally consistent with the original Gibsonian approach.
But is there a contradiction between Gibson’s claims that (a) the theory of affordances is essentially concerned with perceptual information in ambient light and (b) affordances exist even if they are not noticed by the actor? Not really, since information that is present in ambient light may not be actually perceived by the actor. For instance, a pickable mushroom could be unnoticed by a person walking in the woods if the person does not look in the direction of the mushroom.
Therefore, while confusion between affordances and their perception should of course be avoided, a complete separation of affordances from perception would, as argued above, mean going to the opposite, equally undesirable, extreme.
Relevance to direct perception appears to be a key factor in the popularity of the concept of affordances in HCI and interaction design. Gaver (1991), points that the main advantage of the ecological perspective is that it “may offer a more succinct approach to the design of artifacts that suggest relevant and desirable actions in an immediate way.” (italics added)
One would expect, therefore, that exploring the ways in which direct perception of affordances can be supported with appropriate designs should be a key research issue. However, it has not been the case. The term "Direct Perception" is widely used in HCI literature but analysis of mechanisms, criteria, conditions, and solutions for achieving direct perception of action possibilities of interactive products does not seem to be an actively explored issue in HCI research on affordances.
There are some conceptual obstacles that may have prevented researchers from fruitfully addressing this issue in a concrete and constructive way. On the one hand, Gibson’s approach essentially claims that direct perception of our material environment can only be direct. His theory of affordances can be interpreted so that there is no need to support direct perception, since it takes place naturally. It cannot be otherwise: direct perception is the only kind of perception there is.
Therefore, some of the questions, central for putting direct perception of affordances on the agenda of HCI research are: Can the basic principles of ecological psychology allow for the existence of perception, which is not direct? Can visual language representations be perceived directly? It can be argued that the answer to both of these questions is “yes”.
Eleanor Gibson and Anne Pick (Gibson and Pick 2003), who studied perceptual learning from an ecological perspective, conclude that affordances often need to be discovered, and sometimes it takes much exploration, effort, and patience. Apparently, exploration means that various types of relationship between perceptual information and an affordance are “examined” and “tried out” before the perception of the affordance becomes direct. Therefore, research in ecological psychology suggests that not all perception is direct; direct perception should be considered an accomplishment rather than something that just happens naturally.
At the same time, there is empirical evidence indicating that visual recognition of verbal material can become direct in the sense of visual features being directly used to carry out appropriate actions without language recognition. For instance, evidence obtained in a study of menu selection (Kaptelinin, 1993) suggests that with practice users switch to selecting commands without reading their names, that is, to menu selection based on extracting “non-verbal” visual features, such as screen location or the length of a command name.
How can designers support the transition to direct perception? The general strategy proposed by Still and Dark (2013) is to make designs as consistent as possible. A related, more concrete strategy is to structure ambient optic array so that there is a clear mapping between the structure and appropriate user actions. Consider, for instance, MS Word’s “Change case “dialog box (Figure 15). The design of the widget employs certain visual features that make it possible for the user to perceive the widget's affordances without reading the names of the options. The user does not even need to know the language, as long as the writing system is familiar.
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Figure 44.15: Using visual features to support direct perception: The MS Word “Change Case” dialog box.
Gibson’s ecological approach specifically and explicitly deals with perceiving and acting animals. The key concepts of the approach, including affordances, are defined in terms of animal-environment interaction. While a variety of illustrating examples, provided by Gibson himself and other proponents of his approach, refer to specifically human objects, such as knives, mailboxes, stairs, airplanes, pictures, and so forth, interaction with these objects is analyzed within the same general framework as interaction of other animals with objects in their respective ecological niches. This perceptive is characteristic for much work in ecological psychology in general. For instance, Eleanor Gibson and Anne Pick (2003) mention an “action instigated by the animal itself, such as driving the truck.”
Of course, it is true that we are animals, and this fact has deep implications for how our man-made world is created and experienced. Our built environments, as well as individual things comprising the environments, are as they are to a large extent because we are animals equipped with certain bodies, hands, motor functions, and senses. If we were a different kind of animal, then our houses, cars, airplanes, and computers, if we had them, would look different. Undoubtedly, when designing interactive products, it is important to take into account what ways of action are natural for us as a certain animal species.
However, we humans are also fundamentally unique in a number of respects. As opposed to other animals we are social, cultural creatures: we use language, take part in socially organized collective activities, and employ various artifacts that other animals do not have. Therefore, it is logical to ask: Can an animal-centric theory of affordances provide an account of the whole range of human interaction with the world? Can the Gibsonian concept of affordances be used to understand possibilities for specifically human action? As mentioned above, these questions have received some attention in HCI research of the last decade.
Some researchers, including Turner (2005), Rizzo (2006) and Vyas et al. (2006), argue that while the framework proposed by Gibson can provide a sensible account of the perception of possibilities for object manipulation and locomotion, that is, immediate interactions with the physical environment, it is difficult to apply the framework to more advanced examples of social, cultural activities. Even some of Gibson’s examples, such as using a mailbox, do not easily lend themselves to analysis in terms of layouts, objects, events, and ambient light. While the physical interaction part of using a mailbox is rather straightforward, understanding exactly how people perceive the affordance of sending a letter to a remote location appears to be rather problematic. In general, the analysis of tools by Gibson almost exclusively focuses on simple physical objects, which can in principle be used not only by humans but also by other animals, such as apes. Analysis of more complex tools, which are of main concern to HCI, is virtually missing.
There is growing skepticism in HCI research regarding the potential of the original Gibsonian notion of affordances to serve as a framework for analysis and design of interactive technologies for human use. Considering humans as just another animal species is increasingly perceived as a major limitation of Gibson’s theory of affordances in HCI. There are reasons to assume that the general notion of affordances can be fruitfully applied beyond the original Gibsonian scope, that is, animal-environment interaction. Possibilities for human social actions are specified in ambient energy arrays in much the same way as possibilities for physical actions, and they can also be directly perceived. The posture and facial expression of another person may convey an imminent verbal attack as immediately as a view of a cliff would convey a threat of falling off. An open door to a colleague’s office may provide as strong a cue to the possibility of striking up an ad hoc conversation as to the possibility for physically going through the doorway. These and similar cases can apparently be described in terms of affordances and their perception, even though the interactions they describe are not limited to object manipulation and locomotion.
Therefore, a key challenge for future research on affordances in HCI appears to be taking into account the context of culture in order to understand how possibilities for human action are created, perceived, and can be supported by appropriately designed technology.
44.5.4 Affordances of tools
Gibson discusses a variety of tools, such as clubs, knives, and scissors, but he does not systematically explore the issue of what makes tools different from other objects in the environment. For instance, he notes: “A graspable object with a rigid sharp edge affords cutting and scraping (a knife).” (Gibson, 1979). The example suggests that the object’s affordances include not only cut-with-ability (or scrape-with-ability) but also graspability, but the latter is not explicitly considered an affordance. In addition, Gibson describes tools (e.g. scissors) as extensions of the body (e.g., human hand). However, he does not systematically explore how the use of tools affects affordances of other objects in the environment, e.g., how the use of scissors makes a sheet of paper cuttable. Therefore, the question, central to HCI, of how affordances of tools are different from affordances of other objects remains open.
Analyses of affordances in HCI do not provide an answer to this question, either. Most of them do not explicitly differentiate between affordances of technological tools and affordances in general (even analyses, which deliberately focus on affordances of technology). Take, for instance, Norman’s model of action (see Figures 10 and 12 above), employed in several explorations of affordances in HCI. The model does not include an explicit notion of technological tools; it describes how people interact with the “world” and appears to be equally applicable to, say, internet banking and picking berries.
The discussion in Section 3 suggests that some “technology-specific” accounts of affordances can be offered by activity theory and phenomenology. For instance, activity theoretical concept of mediation and phenomenological concepts of breakdowns are explored in, respectively, the mediated action perspective (Kaptelinin and Nardi, 2012) and the analysis of breakdowns (Turner, 2005). However, each of these analyses is currently incomplete and needs to be further developed.
A common assumption about affordances is that perceiving them does not usually require much (or even any) learning; an ability to directly understand affordances is something that we all have. Without any instruction we can see that cliffs afford falling off, small stones afford throwing, and chairs afford sitting. The assumed independence of learning has probably been one of the reasons behind the popularity of affordances among designers. As argued below, however, that assumption is actually a misconception.
To be fair, the misconception is not entirely groundless: in fact, there is virtually no discussion of learning in Gibson’s exposition of his theory of affordances. The ability of animals to correctly pick up behaviorally relevant information is, essentially, taken for granted, considered a direct consequence of mutuality between the animal and the environment. On the grand scale of biological evolution the assumption is sound: the very existence (that is, survival) of an animal species testifies that individuals that belong to the species are in principle capable of correctly perceiving affordances of the environment.
However, this argument cannot be directly applied at the level of specific life circumstances of individual animals. When animals are born into the world, their perceptual functions are rudimentary and action capabilities extremely limited. It is only through maturation and practice that they acquire both the ability to act and the ability to pick up information about emerging affordances. Moreover, individual life conditions even for animals of the same species can be very different, so that different affordances are provided to and have to be perceived by the animals. Therefore, for an individual animal the ability to perceive an affordance is not something that can be taken for granted but rather an accomplishment, a result of learning and development.
Studies of perceptual learning and development, conducted within the general framework of Gibson’s ecological approach by Eleanor Gibson and her colleagues (e.g. Gibson and Pick, 2003), undoubtedly provide important insights into the centrality of learning in the perception of affordances. A limitation of the studies is that they predominantly deal with processes that take place in stable life conditions (e.g., perceptual learning during infancy). In such conditions the outcome of learning is a progressively more advanced adjustment of actors to their environments over extended periods of time. However insightful and important, such studies are of limited relevance to design. New designs are often disruptive. By providing new affordances they may cause significant changes of the environment and create a need for new learning efforts. Anticipating such needs and efficiently supporting users in their learning requires an understanding of how actor-environment mutuality is restored when a disruption takes place - that is, what happens between the moment when new affordances replace old ones and the moment when the actor acquires the ability to directly perceive new affordances. Unfortunately, currently there is a lack of empirical evidence about such phenomena.
It can be concluded, therefore, that explicitly taking affordances into account means that supporting users’ discovery of affordances and learning how to use them should be a key designer’s concern. Currently there is a lack of evidence on how exactly people learn, unlearn, and re-learn new affordances.
44.6 Conclusion: Reflections on the present and future of affordances as an HCI concept
44.6.1 Interpretation of affordances in different research contexts
As discussed in this chapter, there have been rather dramatic twists and turns in the affordance debate in HCI research since Norman’s (Norman 1988) introduction of the concept to the field. Norman’s initial interpretation was found to be not entirely consistent with the Gibsonian meaning of the term (Norman, 1999; McGrenere and Ho, 2000; Tornvliet, 2003; Soegaard, 2008). It has been argued that the Gibsonian theory of affordances has a limited relevance to HCI because it does not provide sufficient support for understanding specifically human interaction with – and action through – technology (Albrechtsen et al., 2001; Baerntsen and Trettvik, 2002; Turner, 2005; Rizzo, 2006; Kaptelinin and Nardi, 2012). Repeated attempts to downplay the role of affordances in HCI and interaction design have been made by Norman himself (Norman, 1999, 2008, 2011). Alternative and complementary concepts, such as signifiers and feedforward, have been proposed (Norman, 2011; Vermeulen et al., 2013). As a result, there is currently a significant degree of uncertainty about the meaning and role of the concept of affordance in the field. While a general understanding of affordances as “action possibilities offered by the environment” is universally accepted, specific interpretations of this general idea are different in different research contexts.
Broadly speaking, the concept of affordances in HCI is used in three related but distinct research agendas, which are predominantly concerned with understanding and supporting, respectively: (a) direct perception, (b) purposeful user action in general, and (c) meaning making. Each of these concerns is associated with a particular perspective on affordances.
Supporting direct perception of suitable user actions was the original rationale behind bringing the concept of affordances to HCI (Norman, 1988; Gaver, 1991). The interpretation of affordances in this research agenda is close to the Gibsonian notion, except that “direct perception” is not necessarily understood in the Gibsonian anti-representationalist sense; it can simply mean that no label or instruction is needed to figure out how to use an artifact (Norman, 1988).
Using affordances as an analytical tool to develop technological support for purposeful human action in general is an extension of the “direct perception” research agenda. There are two general strategies of using affordances as such an analytical tool. The first strategy is to (a) provide a system of hierarchically organized affordances, that is, action possibilities, which jointly enable the user to attain their meaningful goals and (b) support the user in perceiving these action possibilities (Vicente and Rasmussen, 1990; McGrenere and Ho, 2000). The second strategy is to focus on the “execution-evaluation” cycle of one particular action. The cycle is broken down into specific stages using the model of action, proposed by Norman (1988) and the concept of affordances – alone (Hartson, 2003), or in combination with other related concepts (Vermeulen et al., 2013) – is applied to identify possible ways of supporting the user at each of these stages. Irrespective of the strategy, perception is playing a key role in the analysis. However, the difference between “direct” and “indirect” perception is usually of secondary importance.
Finally, in a number of relatively recent studies (Turner, 2006; Rizzo, 2006; Vyas et al., 2006; Vyas et al., 2008) it is proposed that the scope of the concept be extended even further, to include meaning making in social context. Notions of affordances based on the original Gibsonian concept, are considered limited, as only describing the most basic types of affordances (e.g., “simple affordances”, Turner, 2005). It is argued that there is a need for a more advanced notion, according to which affordances are understood as emerging possibilities for individual and collective action in social and cultural contexts, actively constructed by technology users in their everyday practices through both doing and interpretation. The main focus of analysis in this research agenda is not on the “perception – action” cycle but rather on how people generally make sense of the world in terms of action possibilities provided by the environment. Accordingly, perception, as opposed to other research agendas, is either mentioned in passing or not mentioned at all.
Each of these research agendas is associated with its own challenges. Analyses of direct perception of affordances have so far been mostly dealing with physical or physical/virtual actions, such as grasping door handles or clicking on onscreen buttons (e.g., Norman, 1988; Gaver, 1991). Supporting direct perception of possibilities for “non-physical” actions, such as invoking an abstract logical function (see McGrenere and Ho, 2000), while theoretically possible, remains an open issue. The issue is closely related to understanding how direct perception is formed in learning, that is, how an originally indirect process of perception can be transformed into a direct one.
Using affordances as an analytical tool for designing support for purposeful action raises the questions of (a) how the types and properties of affordances, identified in HCI research (e.g., “sequential affordances”, Gaver, 1991, or “degrees of affordances”, McGrenere and Ho, 2000) can be systematically applied in interaction design and (b) whether or not the notion of affordance can be applied to stages of an action rather than whole actions (Hartson, 2003; Vermeulen et al., 2013). Finally, attempts to employ the notion of affordances in studies of meaning making (Turner, 2005; Vyas et al, 2006; Vyas et al., 2008) are yet to provide a clear definition of the new understanding of the term and justify its “added value” compared to other, already existing concepts.
44.6.2 Challenges associated with alternative concepts
As argued in the previous section, a number of terminological uncertainties and other conceptual challenges are associated with the concept of affordances. Therefore, a logical question to ask is: Wouldn’t it be a better solution to use instead (at least partly) an alternative or complementary concept proposed in HCI research, namely, signifiers or feedforward? Let us consider these alternatives one at a time.
An obvious advantage of the concept of signifier (Norman, 2008, Norman, 2011, Norman, 2013) is that it suggests a wide range of possibilities for the designer to orientate, direct, and otherwise support people in their encounters with complex configurations of interactive artifacts, practices, and (social) environments. Instead of narrowly focusing on helping the user to operate a particular device, the designer is encouraged to think about supporting people in dealing with meaningful, real-life problems. Providing efficient clues that would help people make right decisions in everyday contexts becomes a central objective of design.
The flip side to this advantage, however, is that the meaning of the notion gets extremely broad. Defined as “any perceivable sign for appropriate behavior, whether intentional or unintentional” (Norman, 2011), a signifier can mean virtually any information available to the senses. Probably the biggest problem caused by the broad meaning of the concept and its strict separation from affordances is that the notion of signifiers provides little guidance in distinguishing successful designs from less successful ones. Apparently, not all signifiers are equally good. An indication of a poor design, according to Norman, is the use of certain types of signifiers, such as labels (e.g., “Push”) or handwritten signs explaining how to operate a device (Norman, 2011). A real question, therefore, is how to choose or devise right signifiers. The question remains largely open. A possible way to address it is to more closely and explicitly relate the concept of signifiers with the notion of supporting direct perception (which would probably mean bringing in some of the insights offered by Gibson’s theory of affordances.
The concept of feedforward (Djajadiningrat et al. , 2002, Vermeulen et al., 2013) faces a similar challenge. What is the added value of feedforward, compared to affordances, in providing more specific guidance to designers? For instance, what specific criteria, informed by the concept of feedforward, could be used for differentiating more successful designs from less successful ones? A straightforward advice, following from the introduction of the notion of feedforward to design, is that designers should be concerned about informing users about the outcomes of users' actions. The advice is undoubtedly useful but it is also rather general.
In addition, while there has been significant progress in separating the meaning of “feedforward” from the meaning of “affordance” (Vermeulen et al., 2013), there is still some uncertainty regarding how exactly the concepts can be differentiated from one another. Simply stating that affordances refer to actions while feedforward refers to actions’ outcomes, does not seem to be sufficient, since in some cases separating actions from their outcomes may be problematic. A “print preview” seems to be a clear case of feedforward. But does the “close” button of a window inform the user of the outcome, a closed window, or about the action of closing (which action may be misapplied, so that the user may accidentally close the wrong window)?
Therefore, while both concepts, signifiers and feedforward, appear to offer important insights, their exact meanings, relation to affordances, and implications for analysis and design need to be explored further.
44.6.3 Is there a future for affordances as an HCI concept?
What developments in HCI research on affordances can be expected in the future? Which (if any) of the current interpretations of affordances is going to play a central role in the field? Will the term be abandoned in favor of other concepts, such as signifiers or feedforward? While, probably, none can answer these questions with certainty, it would be safe to say that the future of affordances and related concepts in HCI will mostly depend on whether or not they can be clearly defined and shown to be practically relevant.
As argued above, a major problem with current explorations of affordances in HCI is the uncertainty resulting from diverse interpretations of the term in the field. To be a useful conceptual tool, new interpretations of affordances, as well as other proposed concepts, such as signifiers or feedforward, need to be clearly presented and explicitly compared to other interpretations, especially the original Gibsonian meaning, and positioned in a specific research context.
Another important challenge is to make sure a concept is practically relevant and useful, that it provides new insights that help practitioners deal with concrete problems of analysis, design, evaluation, and appropriation of interactive technologies.
When affordance was first proposed as a design concept, it was immediately found practically useful. It suggested, for instance, that making a user interface object look like a familiar physical object can help the user figure out how to operate the object. But this is no longer a new idea: modern interfaces abound with various on-screen buttons, knobs, sliders, and so forth. It appears that the concept of affordances as it was initially introduced to HCI is already well familiar to design practitioners.
Analyses of affordances in HCI research proposed a number of advanced conceptual distinctions, which allow for defining affordances more specifically. Different types and components of affordances can be identified by applying the notions of sequential and nested affordances, degree of affordance, the structure of instrumental affordances, and so forth. These insights open up new possibilities for designers to help people deal with problems associated with modern uses of interactive technologies. Arguably, nowadays users are not particularly puzzled by individual interface objects (e.g., buttons). Instead, they may find it challenging to discover and learn complex configurations of affordances, organized in time and space, assess the effort needed to act out an affordance, and relate mutual affordances of a tool and object of interest to see what action possibilities are offered by the tool. A limitation of advanced theoretical analyses of affordances is that they seldom result in the development of analytical tools suitable for concrete tasks of analysis, design, and evaluation of technology in practical contexts. Operationalizing new theoretical insights in HCI research on affordances is a way to make the research more relevant to practitioners.
In sum, the main challenges for employing new conceptualizations of affordances (or related concepts) in HCI include clarifying the meaning of the concept, as well as its place within a certain research agenda, and making it useful and relevant to designers and other HCI practitioners. Whether or not it can be achieved appears to be critical for determining the future of affordances as an HCI concept.
44.7 Where to learn more
44.7.1 Affordances and ecological psychology in general
- Gibson, J. J. The theory of affordances. In: R. Shaw and J. Bransford (eds.) Perceiving, Acting and Knowing. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum (1977).
- Gibson, J. J. The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton Mifflin (1979).
- Gibson, E. J. and Pick, A. D. An Ecological Approach to Perceptual Learning and Development. Cary, NC: Oxford University Press (2003).
- Heft, H. Ecological psychology in context: James Gibson, Roger Barker, and the legacy of William James’s radical empiricism. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, N.J., (2001).
- Norman, Donald A. (2013): The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition. Basic Books.
- Sanders, J.T. An ontology of affordances. Ecological Psychology, 9 (1997), 97-112.
- Stoffregen, T. A. Affordances as Properties of the Animal-Environment System. Ecological Psychology, 15, 2 (2003), 115-134.
- Wagman, J. and Carello, C. Haptically creating affordances: The user–tool interface. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 9, 4 (2003), 175-186.
- Warren, W. (1995). Constructing an econiche. In J. Flach, P. Hancock, J. Caird, & K. Vicente (Eds.) Global perspectives on the ecology of human-machine systems. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum (1995), 210-237.
44.7.2 Affordances in HCI
- Baerentsen, K. B. and Trettvik, J. An activity theory approach to affordance. In Proceedings of NordiCHI 2002. ACM Press, NY (2002), 51-60.
- Bonderup Dohn, N. Affordances revisited: Articulating a Merleau-Pontian view. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4, 2 (2009), 151-170.
- Gaver, W. Technology affordances. In Proceedings of CHI 91. ACM Press: NY (1991), 79-84.
- Gaver, W. The affordances of media spaces for collaboration. In Proceedings of CSCW 92. ACM Press: NY (1992), 17-24.
- Hartson, R. Cognitive, physical, sensory, and functional affordances in interaction design. Behaviour & Information Technology, 22, 5 (2003), 315–338.
- Kaptelinin, V. and Nardi, B. Affordances in HCI: Toward a mediated action perspective. In Proceedings of CHI 2012. ACM Press, NY (2012).
- McGrenere, J., and Ho, W. Affordances: Clarifying and evolving a concept. In Proceedings of Graphic Interfaces 2000. New York: ACM Press (2000), 179-186.
- Norman, D. A. The Psychology of Everyday Things. Basic Books, New York (1988).
- Norman, D. A. Affordance, conventions, and design. interactions, 6 (3), (1999), 38-43.
- Norman, D. Signifiers, not affordances. interactions, 15, 6 (2008).
- Norman, D. Living with Complexity. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press (2011).
- Rizzo, A. The origin and design of intentional affordances. In Proceedings of DIS 2006. New York: ACM Press (2006).
- Still, J. D., Dark, V. J. Cognitively describing and designing affordances. Design Studies, 34 (2013), 285-301.
- Turner, P. Affordance as context. Interacting with Computers, 17 (6), (2005), 787-800.
- Vyas, D., Chisalita, C. M., and van der Veer, G. C. Affordance in interaction. In Proc. ECCE 2006. Zurich, Switzerland (2006), 92-99.
I would like to thank Mads Soegaard, Bonnie Nardi, Antonio Rizzo, and six anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on previous versions of the chapter. Peter Larsen’s and Rune Arntsen’s help with presenting the Holmes stereoscope example is much appreciated.
Some readers may feel the discussion in this chapter is at times not as objective and neutral as one would expect from an encyclopedia chapter. The problem is that current HCI debate on affordances features a number of strong and sometimes conflicting claims, which are difficult to balance with precision. Fortunately, the “comment” functionality of this online encyclopedia offers certain affordances for dealing with this issue.
Albrechtsen, H., Andersen, Hans H.K., Bodker, S. and Pejtersen, Annelise M. (2001). Affordances in Activity Theory and Cognitive Systems Engineering. Risø National Laboratoryhttp://www.risoe.dk/rispubl/SYS/syspdf/ris-r-1287.pdf
Baerentsen, Klaus B. (2000): Intuitive User Interfaces. In Scandinavian Journal of Information Systems, 12 pp. 29-60
Baerentsen, Klaus B. and Trettvik, Johan (2002): An Activity Theory Approach to Affordance. In: Bertelsen, Olav W., Boedker, Susanne and Kuutti, Kari (eds.) Nordichi 2002 - Proceedings of the Second Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction October 19-23, 2002, Aarhus, Denmark. pp. 51-60
Beaudouin-Lafon, Michel (2000): Instrumental Interaction: An Interaction Model for Designing Post-WIMP User Interfaces. In: Turner, Thea, Szwillus, Gerd, Czerwinski, Mary, Peterno, Fabio and Pemberton, Steven (eds.)Proceedings of the ACM CHI 2000 Human Factors in Computing Systems Conference April 1-6, 2000, The Hague, The Netherlands. pp. 446-453
Boedker, Susanne (1991): Through the Interface - A Human Activity Approach to User Interface Design.Hillsdale, NJ, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
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