The aesthetics of a tool can bring us joy, discomfort, peace, or any number of emotional responses. People made the decisions about the user interface, the possible workflows, the graphics and design, etc. with, one would hope, the end-user in mind. These emotional responses happen in the body and have various sensual responses. Culkin, making a pun on message, likens our tools to massages because of how they affect our sensual experience. Earlier, Culkin says that we shape our tools, suggesting that we are also shaping the “massages” in others and ourselves as well.
These extensions of our senses begin to interact with our senses. These media become a massage.1
5 Metadata work is a sensual experience extends this idea to working with the data about something, while including the tools used in metadata creation.
If I look at an app and call its GUI “sexy” because of how sleek it is, did the designer build that response into the tool? And do we mean “sexy” the same way?
[[A schoolman’s guide to Marshall McLuhan]] by [[John M. Culkin]], 1967. Emphasis mine. Note: massage is not a typo. ↩︎