Category Archives: Universal Machine

interaction (Universal Machine)

An interaction is when the actions taken by the user results in some type of experience, a story however is able to take place without the intervention of a human. That being said there are times when a story and an interaction can come together to create one unified experience these are stories in which the user has the ability to influence the outcome of the story itself. This can be in very obvious ways like an interactive story where the user gets to quite the character though the journey or in less apparent ways like video games, where the success or safety of the character is within the gamers hands. These type of interactions are produced by anyone who has a story and seeks a response to said story. Storytellers come in all shapes in forms from game designers to novelist and the information gathered from the interactions can be used to create new and better interactions or situations that produce stronger emotional reactions.

I believe the Universal Machine is one that is equally accessible to all different types of people regardless of socioeconomic status. I don’t think such a machine currently exist as there are still many groups of people who do not have access to what we feel is common everyday technology. In addition many of the people who have access to this technology may not necessarily have the knowledge or physical ability to use the machines to their full purposes. And for that reason, until there is a device that is available to all ,price wise and as far as accessibility, there is no such thing as a Universal Machine

The Universal Machine

Computational Media is an answer to the monotony of traditional media. Computational Media is much more interactive because it relies on the users unlike other media like television where the viewer is not expected to have to interact with it. Computational Media, however, is still not perfect as explained by Bret Victor. Victor wrote about the problem with the future of Computational Media is the lack of interactivity. The only interaction in Computational Media with the human body is the fingertips. This media relies on just scrolling, which is just fingertips sliding on a smooth, glassy surface. This takes away the tactile sensations which are very important to interactivity because they are replaced with vision. Computational Media relies almost solely on interaction with visuals and sometimes audio. Interactions are different from a story because interactions are just pieces of the story. Interactions fuel the plot, but the entire narrative also includes the setting and understandings about culture and time periods that are not accounted for in interaction.

A universal machine is a machine that is supposed to be universally useful. No machine is truly universal because there will always be a problem that a machine can’t solve. While there are machines that could be very useful, there is no way for there to a single machine that is able to solve all these problems. For example, as said before, machines right now do not incorporate the sense of touch, which is severely limiting to any sort of information that would need touch. Furthermore, other senses other than touch are limited as well so the number of problems that machines now could not solve would be even larger. Even if in the future all these senses could be integrated into machinery, computers are no substitute for humans. Furthermore, the amount of computing power it would take to solve this amount of problems is infinite because there are an infinite amount of problems, which is impossible to put into just one machine.

media forms and universal machines

Compared to traditional media such as books and newspapers, computational media spreads information more efficiently and corrects errors more easily during the process of disseminating the information. For instance, if a published book is found errors in it, the only way to correct those errors is to publish a second edition of the book, which can be pretty costly in time and money. However, it is much easier to rectify an error on a piece of published news online. Just edit it and hit the re-publish button, then everything will be fine. Quick, easy and cost-free.

The audience can know the content of stories being present in front of them. But even if the stories are good enough to strike a responsive chord in the audience, the stories themselves can’t really get the audience involved. While in interaction, which oftentimes incorporates stories, the audience can be a part of a story and make decisions to change the story. It is always people producing and consuming all the media forms because they need those to gain and spread out information.

In my opinion, a universal machine is something that can store and calculate data, receive and send messages. Nowadays, computer/laptop/tablet is the universal machine. But there is no way that this type of machine can be universal all the time. As time goes on, the once-universal machine will definitely be out of date, because humans keep challenging themselves to do something new, and only new machines can address those recent human needs.

Media, Interactions, Stories, and Universal Machines

Computational media has changed the world we live in today. We are able to reach a broad spectrum of people in a matter of seconds. Traditional media has had a good run, but the simple fact is that it just isn’t accessible enough. Phones, computers, and televisions constantly bombard users with new information whether the user wants it or not. Magazines, newspapers, and other forms of traditional media may not be hard to find, but most would no actively seek one out if they did not have a specific goal, such as keeping up with celebrity gossip or keeping up with the news. The most important difference between the two is convenience. Convenience allows for even the laziest of people to complete tasks with minimal effort. It plays a large role in what direction we chose for our media to go in. In an advertising point of view, computational media has dramatically altered how easy it is to promote to others. We are now able to select the group we would like to reach, the time they see it, and how often they see it.

Interactions and stories provide a completely different experience. Interactions are real and what you have experienced, achieved, or failed to do will set off a real chain of events. Stories are a fantasy, a chance to escape from the real world and lose yourself. The only problem is that no matter what happens in the story, it didn’t really happen. Human contact also drastically differs in the two. Small things like eye contact and body language are a large part of what it means to be “human.” Why have most humanoids failed? They lack fluidity. Isolation can cause a person to not know how to interact with other humans. We pick up basic social cues by mimicking the people around us, hence why many people will behave or sound like their family members. But, if we are never around people, we will never be able to mimic anyone. It is near impossible to know how to do something you have never done before much like how it is impossible for a robot to act like a human if it does not have the “human code” programmed into it. When we tell stories of previous interactions, the line between interactions and stories begins to morph. Every story is told from a storyteller’s point of view. Therefore, it is a story. However, it was, what we believe to be, a factual recount of the events that took place in the interaction. Another example would be when telling a story through text. I may feel I am accurately describing my experience, but the reader may be comprehending it a different way turning it into another story. This is similar to the way we perceive social media. What we take in from the tweet or post may not be the same as it’s true intention. We are all producing and consuming these media forms and there is less and less of a chance to avoid it now.

Simply put, a universal machine is a machine that provides universal services. The perfect ideal. No one would ever have to do anything ever again and the world would turn into the movie WALL-E. Ironically, most would thumbs down becoming WALL-E people. Having tasks to complete is what gives our lives purpose. So, I guess it’s not so simple because the idea of a machine that provides all possible services directly contradicts with the perfect ideal.

Interaction vs Story

Media is basically the plural for Medium, so computational media are the tools that help us understand complex and complicated concepts that are usually reserved for machines whiles traditional media are tools that help us understand human emotion, thoughts, ideas and motivations these are music, t.v shows, videos, drawings etc. Interaction is what needs to take place before a story is told. Interactions help make the story happen and they are what makes sure a story is told. For example when a guitarist wants to write a song, he needs to pick up his guitar, place his fingers on the frets then strum. The interaction takes place when he fingers the chords and strums the guitar but the story is the chords being played. Sometimes the interaction can become the story itself.  For example Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has gained fame for its revolutionary slow drying technique which was the interaction that took place in order for the painting to come to life. Usually people who know a lot about a particular medium create things for everyone else to consume. A universal machine is a machine that anyone anywhere can use. Use don’t have to be specially trained to know about it or waste a lot of time trying to figure it out. In my mind the closest thing to a universal machine is a pencil. It doesn’t take a wealth of knowledge to know how to use it and it doesn’t need other things to make it work. You just grab it and write anything on any surface and its relatively cheap.

‘Universal Machine’

Computational media can be defined as the new and improved version of traditional media. The difference between the two is the technology and interactions of these media.

A story can be defined as: an account of incidents or events, and in this case interactions. So a story is made up of interactions. A single interaction can pivot the story on its head, or continue the storyline that is being portrayed at the moment. The two concepts do not just intersect, in some cases you cannot have one without the other.

These media forms are produced and consumed based on necessity, or rather usefulness. Like Bret Victor said, new forms of interactions are created by using and producing new tools that humans can use. I think that new media is created and becomes popular when it has a use that fills a gap mankind didn’t realize was there in the first place.

A universal machine can be defined as something that gives a user everything they need, at any given time. To be honest, it seems like some kind of pipe dream in my mind, because humans get bored. Humans always want more. Enough is never enough, and because of that I think a universal machine is a highly unlikely invention.

In the reading, Bret Victor disagrees with imagination about interaction in the future in the video, namely Vision of The Future produced by the Microsoft company, and believes that future usage of tools could be more interactive by wisely using people’s hands.

First, Bret states that the vision created in the video is not inspiring and even outdated by saying that “This vision, from an interaction perspective, is not visionary. It’s a timid increment from the status quo, and the status quo from an interaction perspective, is terrible.” In order to solid the ground of his statement, Bret further explains other ways that people interacts with other tools by firstly giving a clear definition of tools, that is “a tool addresses human needs by amplifying human capabilities.” He points out that in the video, sliding a finger along a flat surface is the most fundamental way that people use their hands. However, in our daily life, there are much more functions and ways that human could manipulate their hands. To be more specific, the imagination about future in the video lacks the way people interact with the outside world, thus becoming less visionary and insightful. For the future, the writer advocates the audience to break limits in the video about interaction.

Robert’s Response to Universal Machine

I really like the article and the video by Bret . “A Brief Rant On The Future of Interaction Design”  and Video of Inventing on Principal are very inspiring.

In Bret’s article, I thought he was going to talk about the future illustrated by the Microsoft Office which I think is lack of creativity. Basically, All the things described in the “future vision” are ipads and iphones. Surprisingly,  Bret felt the same way as I did! Then, he emphasizes the importance of hands.  “The sense of touch is essential to everything that humans have called “work” for millions of years”(Bret, A Brief Rant On The Future of Interaction Design). He describes what hands can really do: all the elaborate motions, which is very inspiring. Before reading the article, I knew there must be something else for the future, but I didn’t know what is missing. He pointed out a direction for me:   our hands and our body can physically interacts  with the world in 3D. All the things we are using now interact with us in 2D: we can only swipe on the screen, instead of squeezing it. The article makes me think what kind of machine can interact with us in a more efficient and less delusional way.

In the video, he shows several demos. The one about binary search resonates with me. He says that good programers are just good at playing computers in their heads. I completely agrees with him. In his demo, all the algorithms are put into examples immediately, which can be very helpful in programming, because the computer do all the simulating for you.

Thoughts on Computational Media and Universal Machines

In its simplest definition, computational media is merely the newer form of traditional media. Traditional media, which are things such as radios, are not complicated technically and produced pretty simple experiences, such as listening to music. Computational media are more advanced that traditional media. Computational media is formed by more complex technology than traditional media and offer experiences that are also far more elaborate. Unlike traditional media that offers simple sense based experiences, computational media offers users an experiences that can bend reality. Thus, what distinguishes the two medias is complexity in technology and produced experiences.

A story is narrative that discusses a course of actions while a interaction is an action. While it may seem like these two concepts are different, as we can see from their definitions, they are actually intertwined. In order to begin and have a story, we must first have some sort of interaction.

An interaction triggers the beginning of a new story, because it establishes the action which leads to a course of other actions. For instance, when we touch our lock screen to open our phones, we begin the story of how we are going to use our phone that day. When we open our emails, we begin the story of how we respond to the emails we receive and the news that awaits us. When we slide our fingers across the touch screen to answer a phone call, we begin the story of the phone call we took on that day and the events that will occur as a result of that call.

I think the user is the one who produces and consumes these media forms. After our last discussion, I began to realize that while the technology we have access to is fascinating and truly advances our society, at the end of the day, it still just a tool. Technology, at least for now, does not have a mind of its own. We choose what it should produce and we filter through its productions to determine what we want to consume.

A universal machine would be a machine that offers universal set services. There would be nothing that this machine could not provide the user—it would be the equivalent of a Swift Army knife but of technology. Yet, I do not believe it possible for any machine to be truly universal because there will always be a need that a machine cannot meet. A machine may be able to provide information, like the Google Search Engine, but it will not be able to execute task, such as calling an Uber. Perhaps, voice assistants are the closest thing we have to a universal machine since they can provide information and complete tasks; however, they still are limited in the fact that they cannot provide any visual information.


From my point of view, the greatest change that computational media have is the introduction of interaction. I’m not saying that there’s not interaction at all in the classic medias, but computational media brings it onto the stage formally an systematically.

I think interaction provide the story a brand new layer, like the  change from 2d to 3d, black and white to colors, mute movie to the one with voice.  Games are the most easy example I can pick to talk about how it works. There’s many games that have options in their story and different option player took would alter the ending or even the rest of the whole story. One part is that “Player making choices” helps to drag audience deeper into the story. But the more important one is the “alter”, meaning  that more than one possibility could be stored in a single work and this is the new layer I’m talking about. A book can be read by times, and so does a game. After a player tried different options in a single game, he or she can accept more thoughts and ideas from the author.

Nearly everyone who have a device containing a computer is consuming there media forms. Many people do not play games, but they search with searching engine, then it’s interaction. They scan QR code one advertisement, then its interaction. It’s really hard to do interaction in modern society. At the stage, the producer of these are usually tech related people. I think we’ll see more art people getting involved in very near future.

I do not think there would be a universal machine for “interaction” in computational media. It could be a button, could be camera, could be a microphone, could be anything that could create a message and transfer the message into digital form.

response to story & interaction

Interaction requires viewers to participate and get involved with the project, but a story is just telling by the author, viewers can only receive information passively. They will be more interested in interaction because this will bring them the feeling of achievement (because their interactions are part of the work). Interaction also motivates viewers to explore more about the project by stimulating viewers’ curiosity. Obviously, interaction and story do intersect in many fields. For example, games. Gamers are interacting with objects that game gives them, and the game tells a story through settings and plots. They can get different results depending on their different choices, this is a special way of storytelling.


From my point of view, it is technology who produces these media forms. With the development of technology, people have more medias to present their ideas. For example, million years ago, people can only draw on stones, but now we have computer to achieve better effects.


I don’t think there is actual a universal machine. Firstly, human’s idea or opinions cannot be formed by machines. Secondly, people’s needs are unlimited. Functions of the machine have to change and increase in order to satisfy people’s newer needs.

ideas about media and universal machines

The differences between computational media and traditional media are, in my opinion, the former one is built on a special language and logic, showing in more various ways. Traditional media mostly based on words and pictures( or in some situations, pictures can be considered as computational media). In comparison, the computational forms can be videos, digital models, arithmetics, machines etc. In another word, they are multiple. Besides, computational media offers more freedom for the audience to participate. For example, the wooden sensor in the lounge of ITP can be considered as a computational form. It is totally different from traditional media from inside to outside. People can enjoy the interaction with the sensor in this case. That’s also the way interaction differs from stories. Mostly, a story is an output from an author but the interaction is a loop has both inputs and outputs. From my perspective interaction is more attractive. At least I really enjoy playing with the wooden sensor. However, interaction and story can work together in many cases. The truth is interaction is a method or tool and story can be content. When they are combined, the media employees the interactive technologies to tell a story. About the producer and consumer of these media forms, I would say they can be a same group of people. More specifically, producers are those who have the ability and expertise in telling stories and manipulating computing technologies, and consumers are those who  “read” stories( even they do not read writing forms). Thus, producers must be consumers and people who consume the media are more universal. IMA and ITP students and professors are examples, we study and enjoy other people’s work but also make our own projects.

The other topic of the universal machine:

A universal machine, a literal definition, can do anything people need covering every single aspect of our life. I would choose voice assistants like Siri as prototypes. When they are able to connect with the physical network to control multiple other devices. A more detailed instance is the AI assistants “Jarvis” and “Friday” in Marvel Movie and Comic Universe. However, there is no a single machine can be truly universal, even the AI assistants in movies are based on large physical networks connecting by the electronic signals. Besides that, we now define a universal machine by the term” people need” but actually most people will think it should be ” people want” which is like infinity. In this case, we may can only reach the goal in movies and comic books.

Traditional media exists within the status quo. It is a media that is expected and  installed within the norm. In “A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design” by Bret Victor, traditional media is defined as the use of a single finger across a glass screen. In comparison, Computational Media is a more interactive experience where the art of computing is used to emphasize expression and communication. Computational media has a story to tell when an interaction is made. The interaction is the physical action between two or more people or things while the story is the emotion, experience, and/or message that the interaction causes. Although, the interaction and story can intersect. For example, you interact with the story itself. The subject can alter the story of the interaction and thus these two concepts can go hand in hand.

The audience of these media forms includes all of the population since humans are constantly exposed to technology, entertainment, and social exchanges. Even though these medias are a global common, there cease to exists a universal machine.  Everyone is different and no one will ever experience a machine or media the same way. The machine will always have some flaw or fault to it, which will fail to make it universal.


Media and the Universal Machine

Both computational media and traditional media serve the basic purpose of distributing information to a population. However, computational media refers to this distribution through means of technology, such as social media or videogames, while traditional media makes use of books, newspaper, or radio. Perhaps most importantly, the former prioritizes some form of active interaction between information/story, the user, and at times even the external environment, while the latter provides a kind of passive, private interaction that occurs between only the audience and the piece of media. Wikipedia is a good example of computational media, combining the features of an online encyclopedia with the creative participation of contributors in order to benefit its readers: technology + information + interaction + external influence. I believe that something like reading a paperback book also counts as interaction, but one that occurs solely within the individual.

At the same time, the division of computational and traditional media seem trivial to me, since there are so many points of overlap. If, instead of buying a physical album, I streamed it on Spotify, then music becomes new media. If I had a book on a kindle instead of in paperback, the book is now new media. Eventually, everything seems to travel into the domain of “new media” and blurs together into a blob of  just “media” . Even the line between the producers of each kind of media, as evidenced by the fact that this major exists and the fact that the only thing I had show when applying was my illustration portfolio, yet here I am, learning how to code and make circuits.

In my mind, a Universal Machine should be something that is applicable to all people, everywhere, regardless of economic status or living conditions. However, the only things that might fit into this category are simple machines like levers and pulleys. And while they are machines, they don’t carry with the the intrinsic idealism we like to link so closely to machines. In this case, there is perhaps no machine that is truly universal, only machines that are “universal” in the technologically-advanced areas of the world, since those are the places that present themselves as being at the forefront, as representatives of the world as a whole.

Computational Media vs Traditional Media, Interaction & a Story, and The Universal Machine


Computational media is also known as “new media” while traditional media is known as “old media.” The reasons why they’re referred to as “new” and “old” is because computational media is more technologically advanced whereas traditional media is the old-school grandma. Examples of computational media would fall into the lines of video games, 3D models, CGI in movies, social media,  and whatnot – whereas traditional media is more like print, painting, and drawing. Another difference between computational media and traditional media is their audience. A majority of modern society feels more for innovated tech rather than a printed text, but this may just be a biased opinion of mine. And then vice versa, I feel like the elderly appreciate traditional media more. I feel this way because my grandma would constantly remind me of how simple life was like in the “olden days.”


Interaction differs from a story because of the experience it holds. Once you’re there experiencing things for your own, it’s more real since you’re physically there embracing it all. By only hearing a story or reading something, the author or just the story sharer might be missing some sensory details that you might not have missed if you were the person within that interaction (I hope this makes sense to how I’m interpreting it). But I also believe that an interaction and a story do intersect. To me, it’s the case for the person in the interaction who’s telling the story because logically, you need to experience the event in order to fully speak for what you witnessed.


A universal machine would be a working machine or device that is accessible to many in the universe. Although there is NOT one truly ideal device that is for anyone and everyone, I do believe that we every day we are continuously innovating things and pushing our limits to the next level to help societies. But if I were to choose a device that is “universal,” I would pick a smartphone since it’s a portable computer that fits into our pockets.

Computational Media, Interaction in Storytelling, and the Universal Machine

Computational Media

With “traditional” media being considered as the pre-information-age art forms like painting, drawing, singing, etc in this blog post, computational media has a much larger presence in the todays world. It’s everywhere around us: video-games, movies, user interface design, billboards, etc. The difference between the two is a matter of the medium and audience that is targeted. Many times, like in the CGI or visual effects world, good computational media is only considered good if (with photorealism as the intention) it can go unnoticed.

the goodthe ugly

Interaction in Storytelling

Interaction and stories usually didn’t go hand in hand. Early forms could be considered of the overlap may include magicians’ acts with their audience being the interactive aspect of the story. Nowadays, the aforementioned art forms (video-games for one) only exist due to the overlap in story and interaction. There are two categories for this, I believe. One in which the story is dependent on the interaction, like in the Tell-Tale Batman Series and Arkham Knight or even FIFA), and where interaction only supplements the story, most free-roam games. The former feature alternate endings whereas the latter have a linear story-arc.

The Universal Machine

Alan Turing made “a universal Turing machine is a Turing machine that can simulate an arbitrary Turing machine on arbitrary input. The universal machine essentially achieves this by reading both the description of the machine to be simulated as well as the input thereof from its own tape”

When I think of the word universal machine, I think of levers, calculators, and mobile phones. Machines in the hands of everyone. Everyone in functioning society can understand the use of these machines and figure out how to use them. A universal machine can exist and currently does.

Story vs Interactivity

Computational Media as opposed to Traditional Media has always had differences. To me, its main difference is that what Computational Media is entirely dependent on the user, the user can use the internet to search up what news or information they are interested in, or create or do whatever they want, when they want. Traditional Media provides to the consumer information or services that has already been made,whether it be newspaper, television programs, or books, they are not specifically catered towards the user. Traditional media provides a story that is already created, Computational Media provides a more interactive side to that story that in a way, allows the consumer to create their own story, based around their thoughts and processes. Through both sources these can connect though, for example, through Computed Media, the result a user can find can be more of traditional media that just so happens to fit that person’s interests. Developers and creators have been working towards allowing story and interactivity to connect. One of my favorite examples of this in recent times are within video games. Developers have created interactive storytelling video games that mold to the decisions and processes the user takes, based on that, outcomes and scenarios will differ and create an entirely different experience than that of someone else.

Universal Machines can be seen as a device that can do literally whatever the user wants it to do. I don’t believe we have reached any device that can do whatever we would like. But I believe the closest we have to that right now would be a smartphone. They are very accessible, easy to carry around, affordable, and can carry out multiple processes such as contacting people, creating and storing documents, pictures and videos, and entertainment. This by no means fits “Whatever the user wants” however. I don’t believe we can find one singular “universal device” as everyone’s wants and needs differ, but I believe we can get close.