Three people interacting with interactive technology (a laptop).

Overusing the Term “Interactive” When Discussing New Media


Here we go again, overanalyzing another term. Don’t act so surprised. At this point, dissecting terminology should be a given. Yet again, we will be referring to J. D. Applen’s book Writing for the Web : Composing, Coding, and Constructing Web Sites. So buckle up, let’s break down the term “interactive” and how it relates to new media.


“Interactive” is a term that is thrown around a lot when discussing new media technology. A common misconception is that if you need to press buttons, that particular technology is interactive. Yes, technically you are interacting with your device. If we are going off technicalities, then when you flip through the pages of a book, you are interacting with that book. Yet, books are not considered an interactive media.

In order for new media to be deemed interactive, it cannot be static. By this I mean that media must grant the user the ability to change. As Applen words it, “When we take information from a screen, ‘the text becomes unfixed and interactive’ and the reader can ‘change it,’ and assume the role of the writer.” (Applen 7). People respond to digital text similarly to how they respond while having conversations. This honestly surprised me. I would have thought that the written and digital word were closer in relation then the spoken and digital word.

How New Media is Interactive

Now that we have established a definition, how does something qualify as interactive. For the sake of this course, let’s discuss the blog posts. When I click the publish button, and send out my work for the world to see, they have the option to interact with my post via the comment section. The viewer has now become the writer. Just like my blog post, the viewers comment is visible to the public.

Overusing the Term

Interactive has become somewhat of a buzz word in recent years. Especially in the education world. Senselessly throwing around a term tends to dilute the terms true meaning. Interactive media is a very useful educational tool when it is true to it’s definition.


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