, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 173–180 | Cite as

The sudden experience of the computer

  • Robert Rosenberger
Open Forum


The experience of computer use can be productively articulated with concepts developed in the phenomenological tradition of philosophy. Building on the insights of classical phenomenologists, Ihde has advanced a sophisticated view of the ways humans relate to technology. I review and expand on his notions of “technological mediation,” “embodiment,” and “multistability,” and apply them to the experience of computer interface. In particular, I explore the experience of using a computer that fails to work properly. A revealing example is the experience of a user who suddenly and unexpectedly encounters a slowly-loading webpage while using the Internet. This phenomenological framework provides an account of the ways a suddenly failing technology changes our relationships to the device, to the world, and to ourselves, and it also suggests how this experience can be usefully reconceptualized.


Relational Strategy Pave Road Magnify Glass Strategy Shift Phenomenological Perspective 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Special thanks to Don Ihde, Annie Roach, and Arun Kumar Tripathi for comments on earlier drafts of this piece.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stony Brook UniversityStony BrookUSA

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