Metaphors for the Nature of Human-Computer Interaction in anEmpowering Environment: Interaction Styles Influences the Manner ofHuman Accomplishment

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Department of Computer Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University


Over the past four decades, the computer's role in helping humans solve information problems has increased steadily. New genres of computer applications have arisen, leading to new ways of using computers. Of these, perhaps the most advanced are what we call empowering environments for problem solving with computers. We propose that a closed-loop model of interaction provides a more natural, more accurate description of problem solving with computers. Further we suggest that human accomplishment is strongly enhanced by engagement of the user in such environments, and a key to engagement is the power of an interface as an illusion, representing the real-world problem-solving situation directly to the user. In turn, the illusion is supported by directness, which depends on appropriate and timely feedback closely coupled to the user actions as part of inter-referential input/output.