Other definitions of interactivity in this tradition

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Other definitions of interactivity in this tradition include Markus’ (1990) suggestion that interactivity is a characteristic of technologies that enable multidirectional communication. Other definitions that embed interactivity in the features of the message/medium include conceptions of interactivity as being based in functionality such as user control and participation (Jensen, 1998; Latchem, Williamson, and Henderson-Lancett, 1993b; Lieb, 1998; Morrison, 1998; Murray, 1997; Street Jr. and Rimal, 1997). Some studies have begun the process of operationalizing specific features that can be identified and categorized as interactive (Ahren, Stromer-Galley, and Neuman, 2000; Ha and James, 1998; Massey and Levy, 1999; McMillan, 2000b; Schultz, 1999, 2000). Others have associated these interactive features with specific strategies such as mass customization, virtual stores, and collaborative learning (Blattberg and Deighton, 1991; Day, 1998; Landow, 1992). Perceived Interactivity In contrast to scholars who seek to identify ‘features’ of interactivity, others have suggested that interactivity may be ‘in the eye of the beholder’ (Lee, 2000; McMillan, 2000a; McMillan and Downes, 2000; Morrison, 1998; Newhagen, Cordes, and Levy, 1996.) Heeter
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Interactivity 7 (2000) proposed that orientation to interactivity is a personality characteristic and Kiousis (1999) also suggested that interactivity resides, at least in part, in individuals’ perceptions. A recent study (Burgoon et al., 2000) suggested that one way to conceptualize interactivity is based on the qualitative experiences that users equate with interactivity. Morrison (1998) noted that it is important to understand how individuals perceive interactivity in order to grasp the influence of newer media technologies in their lives. Newhagen and his colleagues have insisted that the individual and individual perceptions must take conceptual center stage in studies of new media (Newhagen, 1998; Newhagen, Cordes, and Levy, 1996). Wu (1999) and McMillan (2000a, 2000b) found that users’ attitude toward Web sites is positively related to their perceived interactivity of the Web site. Reeves and Nass (1996) suggested that, in general, perceptions are far more influential than reality in terms of individuals’ interactions with computers. Lee (2000) suggested that the most important thing to be examined in measuring the level of interactivity is not counting more provisions of technological features, but rather investigating how users perceive and/or experience those features. Interactive Exchange Rafaeli, one of the most-cited scholars on the subject of interactivity, identified interactivity as being located in the relatedness of information exchange among participants rather than in either features or perceptions. He defined interactivity as going beyond simple one-way ‘action’ or two-way ‘reaction’ that may not be truly responsive. He wrote: ‘Interactivity is an expression of the extent that in a given series of communication exchanges, any third (or later) transmission (or message) is related to the degree to which previous exchanges referred to even earlier transmissions’ (1988: 111).
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Christopher Reinemann
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