In chapter two of Computers and Theatre, I found it interesting how Brenda Laurel connects the recent phenomenon of human-computer interaction with Aristotle’s theories that are over two thousand years old. Laurel applies the four causes – the formal, material, efficient, and end cause – to define the nature, shape, and forces at work of a play or a human-computer activity. This theory is relevant when applied to my area of study because especially in design disciplines, fully understanding how our product works, what its nature is, what it will try to be and do, and its intrinsic form is an important part of its success.
When applied to computer-human activity, the formal cause is the form that it is trying to be, whereas the material cause is the enactment if its structural elements. In my opinion, the most important causes are the next two: the efficient cause and end cause. The efficient cause is the skills and tools of its makers. The end cause is what the product is intended to do in the world. The right skills and intentions are what is needed to create an outstanding product.