Feedback Logic

17 Feb

In operant conditioning, feedback content can be divided into reinforcement and punishment depending on whether behavior is encouraged or discouraged. Reinforcement and punishment are further divided into four types:

Positive reinforcement: encouraging a user’s behavior by providing a favourable stimulus in response to it.

Negative reinforcement: encouraging a user’s behavior by

removing an adverse stimulus in response to it.

Positive punishment: discouraging a user’s behavior by

providing an averse stimulus in response to it.

Negative punishment: discouraging a user’s behavior by

removing a favourable stimulus in response to it.

Tatsuo et al. (Reflecting Human Behavior to Motivate Desirable Lifestyle) “found that positive reinforcement and positive punishment were essential feedback modes for motivating the user because of their ability to provoke emotional response” and that “merely informing people about correct lifestyle choices is not always enough to effect changes…. additional motivation is necessary.”

“We naturally use our ears to monitor our environment. While in the midst of some conscious action, our ears are gathering information that we may or may not need to comprehend. Audio is a natural medium to create a peripheral display.” (Designing Audio Aura). The project also states that if using audio as an ambient display “alarm” sounds, such as sounds that tend to have sharp attacks, high volume levels, and frequency content similar to that of the voice must be avoided. “Ambient Display using Musical Effects” supports the hypothesis that musical effects are a promising method for Ambient Informational Display. Barrington et al. state “music may provide a natural and flexible medium for ambient display because it is considered a desirable component of many Human environments. Music has low interference and may even enhance participation in unrelated activities” such as conducting tasks in the home.

Heiner, Hudson, Kenichiro & Tanaka (The Information Percolator) aim to develop an aesthetically pleasing decorative object so that it makes it easier for the object to “fade into the background” when not being directly attended to and may also help increase long term user acceptance.

Pousman and Stasko present a taxonomy of Ambient Information Systems across four design dimensions: Information Capacity, Notification Level, Representational Fidelity and Aesthetic Emphasis. Firstly they define Ambient Information Systems as follows:

• Can move from the periphery to the focus of attention and back again.

• Focus on the tangible; representations in the environment.

• Provide subtle changes to reflect updates in information (should not be distracting).

• Are aesthetically pleasing and environmentally appropriate.

Information Capacity refers to the amount of information that the display provides. Too much information can reduce the usefulness of the display and complicate the user.

Notification Level is the degree to which the system alerts are meant to interrupt the user. The aim is to provide subtle notification and changes.

Representational Fidelity describes a systems display and how the data collected is encoded into the chosen modality. Pousman and Stasko describe Representational Fidelity in the language of Semiotics, the branch of Philosophy that deals with signs, sign systems and their meanings. They state that signs can be:

  • Symbolic – Signs are completely arbitrary. Based on random choice other than reason. Requires a code to understand.
  • Iconic – Have an immediate degree of similarity or a representation of the data being displayed. For example metaphors or icons.
  • Indexical – Signs that are directly connected to the data for example a photograph.

Aesthetic Emphasis refers to how visually pleasing and emotionally engaging the display is. 

More than likely throughout the project decisions will have to be made with regard to a tradeoff between information capacity, representational fidelity, and aesthetics, depending on which I feel is more important to the success of the project. The aim will be to develop a display that is a suitable balance of all three aspects.


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