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The History and Future of Direct Manipulation

Frohlich, David



Abstract: The earlist interactive computer systems were based on a conversational mode of interaction, in which user and computer communicated through the exchange of linguistic utterances. Since the advent of `direct manipulation' technology, there has been a tendency to develop and promote an alternative mode of inter- action, based on the user's manipulation of computer displayed objects. This paper reviews recent develop- ments in the implementation and understanding of direct manipulation interfaces which point to various limit- ations in manipulative interaction which various limitations in manipulative interaction might be overcome through the selective re-introduction of of conversational interation. A re-conceptualizations of the direct manipulation philosophy is suggested to accommodate these developments in which directness is said to be a property of both action and language based systems. A social definition of directness is proposed as the basis of a new philosophy of graceful inter- action and a number of practical guidelines are offered to reduce the incidence of clumsy manipulation.

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