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The figure and ground of engagement

Turner, Phil


Phil Turner


Engagement is important to the success of applications, systems and artefacts as diverse as robotics, pedagogy, games, interactive installations, and virtual reality applications. Yet engagement has proved to be remarkably difficult to define as it can take many forms, so many that it is difficult to isolate what these different instantiations have in common. Instead of pursuing an empirical perspective, the human side of engagement, namely, involvement is considered from a broadly Heideggerian perspective. As Heidegger has a deserved reputation for philosophical obscurity, all of the concepts adopted from his work are mapped onto the more familiar languages and vocabularies of psychology, human–computer interaction and cognitive science. It is argued that technology is engaging and our response to it is to be involved (with it). This resulting involvement–engagement dyad is thus an explicitly holistic account recognising roles for affordance, purpose, identity, affect and embodiment.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Dec 6, 2012
Publication Date 2014-02
Deposit Date Nov 5, 2013
Print ISSN 0951-5666
Electronic ISSN 1435-5655
Publisher BMC
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 1
Pages 33-43
Keywords Involvement; Engagement; Affordance; Affect; Identity;
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date May 16, 2017