I really enjoy reading Manovich. It is interesting that I have never thought about why those computer interfaces were designed like what they look like, such as folders, overlapping windows, desktop. Before that I had a vague idea that they may be representations (or metaphors) of something in our offline world, but I never concentrated on the “why” behind them. Manovich indeed reminds me of those old days when I used DOS, which basically followed the so called tradition of “printed word”.

I agree with Manovich that we are not interfacing to a computer but to culture encoded in digital form. Cultural interface, or “human-computer-culture” interface seems a digitalization and embodiment of cultural objects. Although the world is undergoing a trend of economic and technological globalization, diverse forms of participation, values and interests still shape Internet technologies, which is called as a “culturally specific kind of modernity” by Lo (2009). The interfaces are usually designed in accordance to social norms, social frames, and expectations in the offline societies; otherwise they may not be applicable or understandable. In this sense, “cultural interface” can be considered as a changing “social entity”, thus contributing to the reinforcement and development of nation power.

As a closing remark, I would like to cite my favorite text from Manovich: “The language of cultural interfaces is a hybrid. It is a strange, often awkward mix between the conventions of traditional cultural forms and the conventions of HCI—between an immersive environment and a set of controls, between standardization and originality. … One wants the computer screen to be a dense and flat information surface, whereas the other insists that it become a window into a virtual space” (pp. 92-93). I cannot agree more and now I know why I get so confused by some interfaces – They tried to balance these two traditions but they failed, unfortunately.

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