In Interactivity: A Concept Explication, Kiousis argues that the ongoing influx of new communication technologies has redefined, reworked, and reinvented many traditional concepts in mass communications.
Kiousis begins his project by providing a general background of interactivity by stating some assumptions regarding interactivity and new communication technologies. Next, he discusses relevant literature to review the many different definitions of interactivity proposed by researchers. However, the amount of implicit and explicit depictions/meanings was too broad, so Kiousis narrows the focus by defining two dimensions: intellectual perspective and object emphasized. Kiousis identifies the concept’s central operational properties by stating that the operational definitions of interactivity depend on measuring specific dimensions or sub concepts of the term. Then, Kiousis locates the present definitions of the concepts, but realizes that some common variables exist within the definitions. Kiousis compiled a list of various elements and meanings that encompass interactivity which include two-way or multichannel communication should exist (usually through a mediated channel), the roles of the message sender and receiver should be interchangeable among participants, individuals should be able to manipulate the context, form, and pace of a mediated environment, and users should be able to perceive differences in levels of interactive experiences. To evaluate and modify these definitions, Kiousis believed it was imperative that interactivity conceptions are merged into a hybrid definition. The formulation of the definition included the following dimensions: (1) the structure of the medium, (2) the context of the communication settings, and (3) the perception of the users. He proposes the conceptual definition that states that interactivity can be defined as the degree to which a communication technology can create a mediated environment in which participants can communicate (one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many), both synchronously and asynchronously, and participate in reciprocal message exchanges (third-order dependency). His definition refers to human users’ ability to perceive the experience as a simulation of interpersonal communication and increase their awareness of telepresence. Furthermore, Kiousis proposes an operational definition where he links the operational definitions with the conceptual definition. Operationally, he defines interactivity with three factors: technological structure of the media used, characteristics of communication settings, and individuals’ perceptions.
After reading about Kiousis’ research methods to define interactivity, I believe his argument is valid because of his detailed project and extensive research which included various opinions, research, and findings. However, his definition is not the only definition. Kiosusis definition is the result of merging previous definitions into a single hybrid definition, so in theory, it’s correct and substantial. But, as Kiousis said, the concept of interactivity will remain a controversial topic, but he hopes his research and findings will help future studies and better define interactivity.