Every day the amount of digital media we encounter increases. Through the internet we can read the news, watch tv and movies, listen to music, play games, and communicate with others. Our cell phones have transitioned from merely a portable phone, to sending text messages and e-mails, and now with smart phones they have become a portable computer and communications device. In fact the first computers took up many rooms of a building and are now nothing compared to the average smart phone which can fit neatly into someones pocket.
I remember having to explain to my parents when I was younger how to connect the red, yellow, and white adapters from my Nintendo to the TV, even though they were color coded. Then when they got wifi and had problems with it I had to explain that when the tech support person on the phone mentioned an “internet gateway” he wasn’t talking about the Gateway brand of computers with the box that looked like a cow. These days my dad has a laptop, iPhone, and iPad and has no difficulty using them. My mom is a music teacher and uses her laptop for all of her work. The more people are around digital media and devices the more they are able to easily use them.
With that said the truth is that the world around us remains analog and our digital media and devices reflect this fact. We prefer hearing sounds relating to a mechanical action when using a device even if it has no real mechanical parts so we have designed our digital media and devices to reflect this. The most successful devices use sound effects which have a tactile resonance and an origin in the real world. We click on a website link and we hear a sound like we pushed a physical button. Video game system controllers vibrate when the game implies that you would feel impact if it were reality. When turning off an iPhone or swiping the screen to unlock it, the sounds of vice grips opening up can be heard. Any good touch screen device will have realistic sounds synced up to play when objects are selected.
In essence our connections to the digital world must have real world origins. The world we live in is analog and when the digital interface is completely devoid of tactile or non-synthetic sounds we can still operate them, but we are not as happy. We are more likely to respond to digital media and devices which fall in line with this rule, and if creators of digital media hope to be successful it is a rule they must follow.