My thesis essay focuses on the metaphor of human interaction as it applies to human-computer interaction.
Both users and designers of interactive products use a variety of metaphors to understand human-computer interaction. One common metaphor casts computers as people, and our interactions with computers as conversation or other types of social human interaction. The metaphor allows us to apply our everyday knowledge of interaction to the domain of human-computer interaction. To create more "conversational" products using this metaphor, some designers and researchers turn to a substantial body of social science literature on human conversation. However, few focus on other human interaction metaphors, such as relationships, or how social interactions change over time. After reviewing several articles and projects that explicitly use human conversation as a model, I propose that the framework of "working relationships" provides an appropriate structure for many human-computer interactions while avoiding some of the conversation metaphor's potential problems.
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