What is interactivity? Interactivity is the dialog that occurs between a human being and a computer. Despite the fact that interactivity occurs in an endless amount of situations, computers are continually being developed to allow for more intricate and exciting methods of interactivity. (1) Quite possibly one of the best examples of describing how interactivity works can be seen by observing the playing of a video game. In fact, the very definition of a video game describes it as “interaction with the user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device.” (2) Humans can use several different methods with which to interact with the computer; the earliest hardware devices that were used were the keyboard, joystick, and the mouse. (3). Nowadays, there are many different pieces of hardware that can be used, from the most intricate video game controller to a simple microphone which receives the user’s voice.
Interactivity requires not only hardware to function properly, but also software. There are thousands and thousands of software programs that are available in order to accomplish a certain task. Computer users have access to programs that can help them learn a foreign language, perform business and financial analyses, and even professionally edit photographs, among other things. David Jonassen, a man who has been heavily involved in the development of using technology in instruction since the 1980s, believes that “a good program establishes an interaction circuit through which the user and computer are apparently in continuous communication” (5). When the software works effectively to accomplish the needs of the user, and the user is able to provide the software with the information it needs to function, interactivity is efficient and successful.
Not only does interactivity involve communication between a human and a computer, but it also can define interactive between human and human. This type of interaction, known as “hypertext,” is considered the most common form of interactivity when using the web. In fact, the World Wide Web is, itself, “the most extensive example of hypertext.” (4). Hypertext is used when one user enables a link on one page to automatically take another user to a different page by clicking on that link. If it were not for hypertext, exploring the internet would take an extraordinarily long time because the user would have to manually type in the address of each page they wished to visit.

FOOTNOTES:
1.
http://searchsoa.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid26_gci212361,00.html
2.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game
3.
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~amulet/papers/uihistory.tr.html
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypertext
5. http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwitr/docs/interact/