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Interactive media normally refers to products and services on digital computer-based systems which respond to the user’s actions by presenting content such as text, graphics, animation, video, audio, games, etc.
Though the word media is plural, the term is often used as a singular noun.
An essential feature of interactivity is that it is mutual: user and machine each take an active role (see interaction). Most interactive computing systems are for some human purpose and interact with humans in human contexts. Manovich complains that ‘In relation to computer-based media, the concept of interactivity is a tautology. .... Therefore, to call computer media “interactive” is meaningless – it simply means stating the most basic fact about computers.’. Nevertheless the term is useful to denote an identifiable body of practices and technologies.
Interactive media are an instance of a computational method influenced by the sciences of cybernetics, autopoiesis and system theories, and challenging notions of reason and cognition, perception and memory, emotions and affection.
Any form of interface between the end user/audience and the medium may be considered interactive. Interactive media is not limited to electronic media or digital media. Board games, pop-up books, gamebooks, flip books and constellation wheels are all examples of printed interactive media. Books with a simple table of contents or index may be considered interactive due to the non-linear control mechanism in the medium, but are usually considered non-interactive since the majority of the user experience is non-interactive reading.