Interaction and Indication

Michel de Montaigne had a habit after finishing a book. He wrote his impression on one of its pages. That way, when he picked the book up later, he could see what he thought of it.

Now what if he instead put in a check mark? Maybe an 'X' for a book he liked, a '/' for a book he disliked. What would he think when he picked up the book later? Would those markings jog his memory?

Love it or hate it, the marking only shows that he read the book. Nothing more, nothing less. The substance of the experience is missing. An impression, on the other hand, gives a snapshot of the mind interacting with the text, with the author, with the ideas.

And thus a key distinction appears between interaction and indication. I first learned of this from Bix in one of his post's postscript (source):

One could argue that in a sense retweets and even likes aren’t social media but asocial media because they provide no real information or context. They aren’t an interaction but merely an indication.

An indication is a noun. “How many likes did your post get?” is not a qualitative assessment. It is a quantitative measurement. We weigh indications by the thousands.

An interaction is a verb. You can interact by leaving a comment on a blog post, emailing the author, responding to a post's content with your own blog post – the list goes on.

That is the context Bix is referring to. An interaction is a unique event, not another tick in the 'Like' column. It gives us as close to real information as we can get – here is what someone did with something that they read or watched or listened to.

And that can catalyze more participation. Someone will interact with someone else's interaction. Because interaction begets interaction. Verb begets verb. The possibilities can lead us to just about anywhere.