(Digital) experiences

Ronald E. Day, Hamid R. Ekbia


What is digital experience? This question is of interest to different discourse traditions, each of which would answer it differently. The literature in Human-Computer Interaction, Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC), virtual worlds, and Artificial Intelligence, for instance, each present distinctive understandings of the concept of 'experience' and, consequently, of 'digital experience.' However, if we start with the concept of experience as an event, the common historical lineage of these distinct understandings reveals itself. We are interested in this historical lineage, and would like to explain 'digital experience' as a historically developing category. For this, we begin by returning to discussions on two modern concepts of experience (Erlebnis and Erfahrung) in the mid-twentieth century works of Martin Heidegger and Walter Benjamin. Then, we discuss three forms of 'digital experience' -- simulated, embedded, and artificial -- and we suggest that these experiences constitute a modern understanding of experience, namely, as a tension between experience as an embedded or 'situated' event and 'experience' as one that is had. By focusing on this tension, we hope to shed light on some of the shared underlying assumptions among disparate discourse traditions.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5210/fm.v15i6.3024

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