Interfaces are back, or perhaps they never left. The familiarSocratic conceit from the Phaedrus, of communication as theprocess of writing directly on the soul of the other, has returnedto center stage in today's discussions of culture and media. IndeedWestern thought has long construed media as a grand choice betweentwo kinds of interfaces. Following the optimistic path, mediaseamlessly interface self and other in a transparent and immediateconnection. But, following the pessimistic path, media are theobstacles to direct communion, disintegrating self and other intomisunderstanding and contradiction. In other words, mediainterfaces are either clear or complicated, either beautiful ordeceptive, either already known or endlessly interpretable.
Recognizing the limits of either path, Galloway charts analternative course by considering the interface as an autonomouszone of aesthetic activity, guided by its own logic and its ownends: the interface effect. Rather than praisinguser-friendly interfaces that work well, or castigating those thatwork poorly, this book considers the unworkable nature of allinterfaces, from windows and doors to screens and keyboards.Considered allegorically, such thresholds do not so much tell thestory of their own operations but beckon outward into the realm ofsocial and political life, and in so doing ask a question to whichthe political interpretation of interfaces is the only coherentanswer.
Grounded in philosophy and cultural theory and driven by closereadings of video games, software, television, painting, and otherimages, Galloway seeks to explain the logic of digital culturethrough an analysis of its most emblematic and ubiquitousmanifestation - the interface.