Environmental Economics – Pollution Control

Question: Why is the ‘ecological’ perspective important with regard to pollution control and what deficiencies of the traditional economic policy approach does it address?

Answer: The ‘ecological’ perspective is important with regard to pollution control because it focuses on changing production process to meet environmental efficiency, prevent pollution, and improve recycling and recovery as well as improves the efficiency of production (O’Rourke, Connelly and Koshland). Ecological perspective encourages just-in-time delivery system for industries, which in turn reduces cost of inventory and industrial wastage, which in turn reduces pollution. The ecological approach addresses essential requirements and organizes methodologies required to restructure industries to reduce environmental impact and pollution. It also gathers ideas and conceptualize ecological framework that industrial leaders, academia and government agencies use to design and implement better environmental platforms.

Unlike traditional economic policy, which is stuck in the context of innovating pollution control methods, ecological perspective offers transformational shift of pollution control methodologies towards a more robust and comprehensive policy design for environmentally friendly growth in industry. While traditional economic policy focuses on segments of environmental impacts as brought about by industrial development, ecological approach adopts a holistic scheme for redesigning industrial activities. It works on total transformation of industrial sectors to reduce environmental impacts. In traditional economic policy lacks integrity and strategic management in production of goods. It simple run manufacturing processes to produce goods by drawing raw materials and generating wastes to be disposed of (Frosch and Gallopoulos). On the other hand, the industrial ecosystem focuses on building an integrated and well developed process where manufacturing processes are optimized to reduce waste and the effluents of one process is utilized as the raw good for the other. It can be thought of as a cohesive process that integrates industrial processes, technologies and consumer behaviors you can read about this in the climate change essays.

Question: What challenges does the ecological approach face relative to the traditional economic policy approach?

Answer: Being a new perspective to environmental management, ecological approach faces many challenges, which traditional economic policy approach does not face (Garner and Keoleian). The findings of industrial ecology cannot be applied widely because of the gap exists between research and implementation in concrete political platform (Bringezu). There exists no monitoring tool for observing the mechanism of industrial metabolism across the whole country. The absence of adequate linkage between material flow and economic factors is also a problem that hinders widespread application of ecological approach. To develop an integrated approach that can achieve the goals of environmental cleanliness and pollution control, while retaining the productivity unaltered is highly challenging task that ecological needs to resolve. Proper education and policy development for bringing industrial revolution are two factors that ecological approach must consider to transform the traditional economic policy approach into an environmentally friendly approach. To reduce environmental burden and negative impacts that a useful industrial system introduce is highly challenging for an ecological approach. Being a holistic approach, it requires participation of many disciplines, which is sometimes difficult to arrange (Garner and Keoleian). Expertise from different fields such as engineering, law, economics, business, public health and natural resources are essential to solve many complex situation that ecological approach faces in resolving environmental complexities brought about by industrial activities. Balancing the technological changes with the changing consumer behaviors is one of the major challenges that ecological approach face as oppose to traditional economic policy approach.


December 10, 2013  Miami, FL  –  Grand Central Park, the nation’s largest temporary park and only skatepark in Miami, located ton the site of the Old Miami Arena, will permanently close December 31, 2013 according to an agreement essay reached between Old Arena, LLC, (a subsidiary of the Miami World Center Group ( )), and the Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association (OPRA), managers of Grand Central Park.

Old Arena LLC had previously filed an eviction suit August 9, which jeopardized the already short lifespan of the Park, which currently hold the lease on the property until October 2014.

“We turned a heap of rocks into a great park with the help of a lot of amazing people in Miami. said Mark Lesniak,Executive Director of the Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association Inc., the a Florida non-profit corporation that built and manages the park.  “It enjoyed a good run, brought a lot of attention to the neighborhood, and hopefully inspired a few people along the way.” said Mark Lesniak, Executive Director of the Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association Inc., the Florida non-profit corporation that built and manages the park. “Unfortunately, at this point the only decision that makes sense financially is to close.”

Grand Central Park opened in January 2012 as a 5-acre temporary park built at the site of the old Miami Arena.  The Park utilized over 100 cubic yards of debris from the arena’s demolition, planted more than 250 native species of trees and installed more than 2 acres of grass to green the abandoned demolition site.  The site has been used as a community recreation area, festivals and concert venue, local dog park.  Recently, OPRA and the local skate boarding community partnered to build a DIY skate park at the site (currently the only skate park in the Miami area).  The Park creators estimate that they have leveraged $12 million of positive economic impact to the community out of the $200,000 grant it received from the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Miami.

Bradley Knoefler, founder of the Omni Parkwest Redevelopment Association, said “It is sad to see the Park, a catalyst for so much community activity over the past few years, return to vacant land,” but he is satisfied with the overall project, which always had a finite lifespan since its initial inception.   “We’ve accomplished an amazing amount over the past few years for a small volunteer community group.” He said, “The most important this is that we demonstrated implementation and concrete result.  Now its time for others to take the baton and start providing safe community gathering spots and park spaces for Miami’s residents.”

The community is still hopeful that at least the skate park or a portion of it can be relocated to a nearby location.  Alternatives include other parking lots, FDOT property under I-395 and other locations.

For questions and further information, please visit or contact Bradley Knoefler at305.527.7332 or [email protected]

 Grand Central Park is a public / private joint venture created by O.P.R.A., a community-based not-for-profit group, founded by Bradley Knoefler in 2009, that focuses on progressive, low-cost urban renewal projects. The Park was designed by Walter Meyer, of Local Office Landscape, a Landscape Architecture firm located in Brooklyn, New York and is located on nearly 5 acres of a formerly blighted parcel in Downtown Miami, where the Miami Arena once stood. Grand Central Park has vastly improved the neighborhood for a minimal cost and provides needed recreational space and community activation for the thousands of new Downtown Miami residents.  The recently constructed Grand Central Skate Spot has changed the lives of hundreds of children in Miami and beyond.  The park has always been temporary in nature since it was constructed in 2011, planning to exist for a minimum period of 3 years, while the final status of the site is determined.

4 Facts About Freelancing as a Student in College

Thanks to the Internet, college students can now work as freelancers online. All they really need is a skill that they have developed and they want to continue enhancing still, and an account at one of the many freelancing websites that proliferate online.

There are a variety of jobs available. They can work as an academic writer, and provide service to people who are looking to buy thesis papers online. They can work as graphic designers or video editors. The possibilities are exponentially numerous!

I myself have seen success as a freelancer while I was a student in college. I thought I might share these four facts about freelancing as a college student to help out others that are looking to tread through the same path.

Fact #1: Priorities, Priorities!

Indeed, the university is perhaps the first time that people realize the need for time management in their lives. Priority is, of course, the determining criteria as to which task gets attention first among the others.

One way to effectively manage your time and set priorities are to look ahead at your schedule and see what school activities are up, as The Guardian suggests. This will help you determine just how much free time you have on your hands, and you can then decide how much work you want to do for your freelancing gig.

Fact #2: Invest in Yourself

The freelancing landscape is getting fiercely competitive that was observed in the good job essay. According to Tech Crunch, there has been a growth of more than 700,000 new freelancers in the market in a single year, from 2014 to 2015!

In addition to that, Tech Crunch predicts that in 2020 (two years from now!), 50% of the jobs available to people will be freelancing or contracted work. You yourself have seen the technological achievements that have made remote employment more of a reality nowadays than in the previous decade.

This means that you should brace yourself for a lot of competition in the coming years. As early as now, you must invest in yourself and develop the skills that you want to gain experience with as a freelancer. Read free articles, subscribe to magazines like Tech Crunch and others, and attend webinars or web-based seminars whenever you can.

In addition, you will have to be aggressive and a little bit shameless in promoting yourself in various websites as well as social media. You’ll never know when and where you’ll be able to close a deal.

Fact #3: You’re Acquiring Real Work Experience

Most people think of freelancing as just some sort of project. In fact, people who are non-freelancers sometimes don’t take freelancers seriously. Maybe it’s because of the flexible schedule, the seemingly free lifestyle that we live.

However, freelancing is a REAL job experience. I totally agree with SEO expert website Search Influence when it said that college students who pursue a freelancing career have more work experience than their fellow graduates. This can help out a lot when you’re looking for your first job, as you already have a solid idea of work ethics and client expectations.

You can even take it further when you graduate, Search Influence says, by expanding on your existing gigs. Be your own boss for the rest of your life!

Fact #4: Know When to Take a Rest

The allure of earning money is strong, and you might find yourself sacrificing rest time to earn extra. Please, please, PLEASE, don’t abuse yourself that way. Always find time to get enough rest and even some recreation so you don’t burn your brain cells off – you still have, after all, school work to do.

In my own experience, time management became a real challenge when I was writing my college dissertation thesis. The topic I picked was quite challenging, and I had to spend a lot of time researching so I had to take out a little time from my normal freelancing routine so I can have some time to rest.

Freelancing is a very lucrative source of income both for college students and experienced professionals alike. All you need to do is just maintain a sense of priority and time management, especially for you college students who are juggling several subject assignments at once in addition to your freelancing routine.

Good luck, and here’s to your success in both your college studies and your freelancing.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

A rhetorical analysis essay is something that many people encounter over the course of their life. It requires you to analyze an argument that was made by somebody else, and you have to pass the message to a certain audience. Therefore, it’s an analysis of someone else’s work, not a summary.

These essays can be written about films, texts, television shows, radios, artwork and many others. It sounds pretty amazing when you think about it, but you should have a good understanding of it to properly analyze the work.

This article will give you some tips for writing a rhetorical analysis paper and will tell you why it’s important.

What is a rhetorical analysis essay?

Sometimes, writers try to dissect works in small pieces to find out how they fit together and send a certain message or effect to the consumers. This process is called a rhetorical analysis essay.

For instance, the writer may discover the fact that the creator used certain imagery to keep their audience entertained. Such an essay can be written by analyzing TV shows, films, artworks, radios, texts and others.

Therefore, the writer has to understand the creator’s objective for a successful essay. Also, you have to communicate to the audience whether the argument is successful or not.

Steps to writing a rhetorical analysis

When it comes to writing a rhetorical analysis essay, people may panic because they have no idea how to do it. They don’t know what to write about, how to start, how to analyze something, and many other problems. They spend more time worrying about it than doing the actual work.

So, when writing a rhetorical analysis essay, there are several steps you have to go through. Here is some essay writing help if you’re going through hard times, so you don’t have to buy essay papers to ensure your good mark.

  1. Gather information

Before you start, you need to have an understanding of what a rhetorical analysis essay is and how it works. If you do so, then make sure you find a good topic and get as much information as you can about it. Focus on every aspect. After all, you need to study before writing essays, right?

  1. Ask a lot of questions

Asking yourself as many questions as possible about the work helps you have a better understanding about it. Ask about the targeted audience, the creator’s style, the effect it has on the audience, and many others.

  1. Write the essay

It’s time to start writing your paper. Follow the proper structure for a rhetorical analysis. Start with the introduction, keep it nice and short, then move to the body. The body is where you write the whole analysis, so be careful and write it in short paragraphs. Then write the conclusion and ensure you don’t mess it up.

  1. Proofread

Read your essay to make sure you don’t have any mistakes. You don’t want the reader to stop reading and focus on your grammatical mistakes, do you? Ensure everything is correct and the information is in order.

How to start a rhetorical analysis?

The first thing you have to do before starting the essay is, of course, gathering information. You wouldn’t be able to make a proper analysis without the necessary information. For example, find out who is the creator of the piece, what are their objectives, what is his targeted audience, and others.

How to write a rhetorical analysis outline?

It is essential to follow the proper outline for a rhetorical analysis essay, so you’ll have a great piece of homework and receive a good mark. After carefully reading/watching/listening to what you are about to analyze, you can start. The paper outline for an essay is the introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion.

How to write an introduction to a rhetorical analysis essay?

After gathering all the information you need, it’s time to write the introduction. The introduction may be difficult, as it’s always hard until you start. Make sure it’s a short and captivating introduction, so people are drawn to your essay.

It should summarize the main ideas of the essay, and help the reader find out what is the subject.

How to write a body for a rhetorical analysis essay?

The body contains the most important information of the whole analysis. This is where you can divide each point you have into sections and ideas into paragraphs. You should state the idea in the paragraph, and then continue by supporting it with evidence to convince your reader. Because it’s an analysis, you should remember to maintain an objective tone.

How to write a conclusion for a rhetorical analysis essay?

You should use proper words to transition from the body to the conclusion of rhetorical analysis. Basically, the reader needs to realize that the essay is about to end, and you should prepare them.

Re-state the essay to remind your reader of what your paper covered and support your work while convincing the reader that you covered the points in your body.

Good rhetorical analysis essay topics

Many students are afraid of these essays. Although they can understand the process, they have no idea what topic would be a good choice. They imagine scenarios in which they enter the classroom and freeze in front of their colleagues. Yes, college can be stressful sometimes, but choosing a good essay topic is not that hard.

Here are some topics that would make a great rhetorical analysis essay:

  1. Describe the climax of a literary work

The climax is the best part of a literary work. You could analyze and write about how the author has built up to that climax. As an example, you can analyze the climax in Vanity Fair by William Thackeray.

  1. Evaluate a TV series or movie based on books

This would make your work more fun, especially if you have a favorite series. You could analyze how well the movie was adapted in telling the story of the book. You could also talk about why the director chose to change several things or not adopt several scenes. For example, you could examine Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or The Vampire Diaries.

  1. Find out about an author’s background

An example of a good rhetorical analysis essay topic would be an author’s background. You could look for information about an author’s life and analyze how their life has influenced their works. For example, you could analyze Virginia Woolf, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville or many others.

  1. Examine a favorite horror movie

Wouldn’t it be amazing to talk about this at university? You could examine a favorite movie of yours and talk about what makes it such a great film. Also, analyzing what elements from the movie scare people is a good idea. Some examples would be The Shining and The Exorcist.

  1. Examine high school movies

Movies about high school are usually very popular. As an idea, examine if the characters, plot, and setting are realistic. Analyze how the stereotypes are portrayed, and if the movie helps people who are struggling with high school. For example, try Project X or Mean Girls.

  1. Analyze a reality TV series

Analyze why people are drawn to this kind of show. What makes this particular series so popular, and is it good or bad? Is it real or the people are hired, actors? Find a reality TV series that raises a lot of questions in your head.

Why is rhetorical analysis important?

Rhetorical analysis is not only important for your college and for a good mark. Although this may be the reason you’re doing one, it could be very useful in your daily life as well.

Basically, it helps you discover more than what the surface of a thing shows you. You go deeper and find meanings for certain things. For instance, why does that horror movie scare you? Why did that particular author write about death? Why did the director of your film change the series from the books? Why did that picture have such a big effect on people? Asking yourself these questions may help you find answers not only about the analysis subject but about you as well.

Sometimes, you need to ask yourself why a certain thing has a specific effect on you. This is why rhetorical analysis is important – you can complete a puzzle and end up discovering something amazing.


A lot of students stumble upon a rhetorical analysis essay, and it’s hard for them to start the process of writing it. It’s not that hard if you know how the process works, though.

It’s essential to find a topic that you like because that will help you make your process a pleasant one and your essay will be even better. Follow the outline of a rhetorical analysis essay, by writing an introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion.

Hopefully, this guide helped you understand how a rhetorical analysis essay works and how to write one.

Easy Rules for Every Day

As an environmental activist, getting discouraged is easy, because we believe that we have to do everything by ourselves. But this mindset is a trap. You might be doubtful concerning the usefulness and efficiency of your contributions. Still, in the long run, even the smallest things can make the world of a difference. Today, I will introduce you to a few easy rules that can help save the planet.


Recycling is one of those easy things each and one of us can do in order to reduce the amount of waste we generate. There are garbage disposal companies that actually facilitate recycling services. Additionally, you can also use your local recycling facilities for electronics or batteries.

Save water

Water is an exhaustible resource. Unfortunately, it is being depleted at a fast pace, which is worrying on so many levels. There are some practical ways in which you can aim at saving water every day. For starters, you can fix leaky outlets, or adjust the timers on the sprinkles.

Use less gas

We all know that cars are detrimental to the environment. On that note, you should look for alternatives, such as walking more, using the public means of transportation in your city, and biking. If, however, you do need to use a car, you can carpool to work or school – if possible. In this way, you cut down the gas costs and you minimize pollution.

Use less electricity

Instead of using regular bulbs, you should replace them with energy efficient light bulbs. Not only that they last longer, but they will aid you to save some money. Additionally, make a habit out of closing the TV, laptop, or any other appliance whenever you’re not using it.

Use reusable shopping bags

Plastic grocery bags end up being thrown away in the landfill. Eventually, they could end up suffocating animals that might mistake them for food. Plus, it takes years for the bags to decompose. To that end, using reusable bags instead will help you to reduce the amount of plastic you use. It’s easy, practical, and it can make a difference.

Stop smoking

Smoking is utterly harmful to your health, and for the health of the people surrounding you. What is more, the pollution generated by smoking harms the environment, as well. The pollution caused by cigarettes doesn’t stop in the air surrounding you, but it harms the land, air, and water as well, primarily because millions of cigarette butts are thrown daily.

I hope that you’ll implement these rules in your daily life. Even though doing so won’t change the environment overnight, it can make a difference, which matters, a lot.

Technology Essay: Are We in a Race Against the Machine

Sherry Turkle, in her essay No Need to Call, presented that technology is consuming our lives because everything we do requires its presence at the expense of personal interaction.

This is the age when you would rather see another person’s message than feel the emotions that come with it. A conversation no longer requires the rise and fall of a voice but a plain text is enough to convey a message. Even the comfort of another’s company is already transformed into words flashed in a screen because a bodily presence is not possible or that it is just inconvenient.

Indeed, almost everyone now use technology in the form of social media, texting and email to send a message be it personal or a business transaction. From the perspective of a working environment, texting and email gave rise to a more efficient and convenient transactions for a speedy completion of a task. It improved workmanship because messages can be conveyed in just a second. Sometimes people use technology and tools even in the most unexpected areas. For example, journey song writers are inspired by the performances of various singers, and after that they start writing songs with the help of programs. Sometimes it turns out plagiarism. But you have already heard about it, I guess.

This system ended the waiting for the arrival of a telegram. It also shortened the distance between loved ones and made it possible to reach out even from afar.  The downfall came when people abused it by using it extensively in their personal lives. People became used to having conversations while doing other things at the same time. In the article, a lot of the people who shared their sentiments admitted that they are losing their personal touch when a personal interaction is involved. They already prefer using an email or a text to say what they think. On the bright side, it the use of technology can be used to avoid awkward unwanted conversations. However, the sad reality came when a lot of the people interviewed in the article shared that they felt that pang of guilt when they realized that there were no more emotions involved in conversations with people who matter. Every response came out like an automated machine. What made it worse is that they do not want to mean it that way. They still care and they show that by sending a text or an email but they still have other things to do. Turkle slowly slammed in every reader the reality that electronic presence is still nothing compared to a bodily presence. The sound of a voice is way preferable than a text message. One cannot make a hug electronic and words will not comfort someone if it is in a text message.

Personally, the use of texting and calling would always depend upon the gravity of a situation. A call would mean an emergency and a text would be something I can respond to anytime I want. In terms of conversations that are personal, a call would mean someone on either end of the line is extremely angry, happy or sad and a text would only relay that someone has just been from an emotional turmoil. I would admit that there are times when a conversation is turned down if it involves something personal or emotional because I just do not want to engage in it. Regardless, I always make it sure that personal relationships remain healthy. This means that in any case, time must be allotted for making up for the lost moments.

As observed, our society is slowly leaning towards considering texting and email as a major form of communication. Every one of us is found in the people who shared their story in the article. You can be Tara or Rosie, who preferred a text and an email rather than a phone call to say that someone died. I can be Joyce or Karen who preferred a text message than a phone call to say congratulations. In these situations, the essence of being a human being is lost as manifested in the manner of communicating.

People became preoccupied in work and lost time for personal relations. The latter became a trivial part of life maintained through electronic messaging. But what is really more important in one’s life? If the focus is mostly on our material needs, what are we made of then? Our communication practices are starting to discredit the rationality we claim to have. If this becomes a custom, the future generation will adopt our ways. Time will come when the sound of a voice is unheard of because one can always send a message and there is no need to call.

The Theory of Contestable market

This theory was advance by William Baumol, an American economist, and postulates a market where entry and exit cost do not exist. In essence, it is a market with no entry or exit barriers. Since there is no entry barrier, the threats of a new entrant and the underlying competition dictate the operations of the market participants. Therefore, antecedent competition has no role in this kind of market. The table below depicts the types of firms and the corresponding number of firms in a neo-classical gamut of a contestable market


The main supposition of the contestable market theory is that there is no barrier to entry into, and exist out of the market. A firm can simply enter or exit the industry at will. The assumed openness of the market to new potential entrants is basically anchored on three conditions: lack of impediments to entry, non-existence of sunk cost and great market and industry knowledge.

Barriers to Entry

The impediments or barriers to entry are the prevailing conditions that make it intricate or unworkable for prospective firms to venture into an already existing industry and compete favorably with the already existing industry participants. The impediment to entry thus defines the threats of the imminent competition. The aforementioned barrier may exist in different forms such as: high, unrealistic initial costs, existing monopoly, legal issues, and marketing limitations, amongst others.

The pre-existing firms may be in ownership of some critical contractual accords that may limit new firms from venturing into the industry. Similarly, the initial capital expenditure, together with high fixed cost and technological ineptness may render it impossible to enter and compete on the same level with the incumbent firms. Additionally, the incumbent firm may be possessing high brand loyalty that make it hard for new comers to match. The amount of advertisement expenditure would be very high for such firms. Moreover, in some industries, the only way to operate profitably is by economic of scale which is possible only for few, of possibly one, firm in an industry. This eventually results into a situation of intrinsic monopoly.

In a contestable market, however, the above discussed factor does not exist or are very minimal, resulting into an open and freely accessible market to prospecting new entrants.

Sunk Cost

Also referred to as retrospective costs, sunk cost are expenses that are already incurred but can never be recovered by a firm. At the time of entry, if a firm determines that there would be high sunk cost, then it becomes a hindrance to entry into a new market. Sunk cost is a loss to the firm. The amount of money spent in research and development (commonly referred to as R and D), irrecoverable advertisement costs, the time value spent, equipment and assets that cannot be resold, training and hiring bonus, are some examples of sunk costs.

As much as in a contestable market there assumption is that the entry cost is fully recovered at and that exit is totally costless, in reality, in a contestable market, the retrospective costs are seen to be insignificant.

Perfect Knowledge of the Market

Having a great and perfect knowledge of the market and the industry would be a plus to the new entrant. The knowledge about the behavior of the already existing firms in regards to production techniques, labor costs, appropriate technology to apply, marketing and pricing plans and strategies, amongst others would obviously work to the advantage of the entrant. To this end, perfect knowledge would actually pose a threat to the incumbent as it enables the new entrant to forecast the possible behavior of the existing firms.


The scenarios above, presented about the contestable market, where there do not exist hindrances to entry and exit of a market, has a prevailing impact on the behaviors and operations of the firma that are already active in the market. It is noted that, in the long run, firms only operate to make standard/normal profit. Additionally, since competition is in the air, firms operate as if they are in competition; even when in reality there is no competition.

Normal Profits

Normal profit is a situation where a firm operates in such a way that the amount of revenue generated equals the amount of const incurred. This, in essence, implies that the economic profit equals zero. The firm is making the least possible profit that is able to keep it in operation. Since there lack economic profit, normal profit is not enough to attract new entrants. For normal profit to be made, the average cost must equal the average revenue.

The scenario of free entry and exit would essentially imply that firms, if given enough incentives, would easily infiltrate the market. The incentive here would be, for instance, abnormal profit, that would encourage firms to rush into the industry and make as much profit as economically possible. To protect their interest in the industry, the incumbent firms are comfortable operating at the normal profit so long as their market share is not wrinkled by possible new entrants.

Irrefutably, a downward pressure on prices is presented due to the existing competition in the contestable market structure. This implies that firms are willing to operate at levels of output where profit in normal, instead of where profits is abnormal. As per the below diagram, if a firm opt to produce at the point of profit maximization, Q1, then the resulting price charged at that level would correspond to P1. This results into creation of abnormal profit represented by the areas P1ABC. However, in a contestable market case, firms normally opt to operate at normal profits that corresponds to Q2 for quantity and p2 for price

Competition rather not Collusion

The firms that operate in this market are in constant competition with one another and with a possible new entrant. This implies that prices are not fixed but varied, abnormal profits do not exist and there is need for advertisement. The competitions seem to be strong even when it does not really occur.

Direct Manipulation


Direct manipulation has been beneficial in the realm of interface design for the last two decades. The benefits have prompted designers to reduce indirection and change domain objects to first-class interfaces. Before the invention of direct manipulation, Human Computer Interaction (HCI) largely depended on a conversation metaphor such as command-line interfaces. This interface was abstract and indirect hence the new paradigm improved human interaction with computers. This paper examines the principles of direct manipulation, benefits and weaknesses of direct manipulation as it relates to command-line interfaces, and its usage in video game control.

Principles of Direct Manipulation

Direct manipulation is linked with three major principles. First, there is constant demonstration of the object of interest demonstrated in a permanent visual feedback. Second, it is characterized by physical action rather than intricate syntax. Third, there is spiral or layered method to learning, which allows usage with minimum knowledge (Shneiderman, 1982; Shneiderman, & Maes, 1997). In video games, users are able to spontaneously initiate control using knobs and buttons, which basically map out the character’s movement on-screen. Joysticks and buttons are the common de facto methods of input in direct manipulation interface in video games. The objects on-screen are visually indistinguishable from real-world objects, which they represent (Dix, 2009).

For example, an avatar represents the player in the virtual world. Another example of the application of the direct manipulation principles is that users’ actions are continuously displayed on-screen. For example, a gun used by an avatar serves similar functions to that in the real world. Lastly, there is immediacy of user actions. For example, when a player presses shoot button in a one-person shooter game, the avatar initiates a shooting action accordingly. For this reason, actions executed by a player are instantaneous.

Video game-type interfaces

First, video games interfaces are limited in their ability to represent reality. For example, such interfaces cannot create sensations of warmth, weight, taste, and smell. Presently, video game interfaces can only activate the senses of sight and hearing. Therefore, video games are not effective in emulating reality. Second, every command is routed through a user’s thumb to the physical character. Humans operate by different muscles which control activities as opposed to one thumb used in video game interfaces. For this reason, the interfaces limit real-life application due to the limited nature of their controls. Third, video games are unable to inhabit a narrative or designed environment. The player and the avatar can only interact through haptic, visual and audible means. Such interaction immerses the player a fictional world that cannot truly be represented in a real world. An imaginary divide, which separates the player from the virtual world, known as the fourth wall is a barrier to complete immersion. This means that video game interfaces are not effective in breaking this fourth wall, hence a player cannot fully immerse in a game to engage in real-world experiences (Fagerholt & Lorentzon, 2009).

In a video game interface, the user, usually a person interacts with a system, often an electronic device such as computer or game console, via a controlling mechanism such as keyboard or gamepad. In general, the controlling mechanisms have largely been buttons and joysticks. Joysticks correspond to directionality and/or spatial movement of objects while buttons usually correspond to user’s actions (Fagerholt & Lorentzon, 2009).

Benefits of Direct Manipulation

When assessing the benefits of direct manipulation against those of command-line interfaces, the example of travelling in a car sums up advantages. Using direct interface, a user drives the car by manipulating the pedals and steering wheel. The effect is that the car responds according to the user’s actions through a continuous visual feedback. If the user makes a mistake while driving the car such as turning suddenly on a sharp corner, the user can rapidly realize the mistake and initiate corrective measures. On the other hand, with a command-driven interface, a user is a passenger in the car issuing directions to a stranger (Dennehy, nd).  In this case, a user relies on the actions of a stranger who, if they possess inadequate skills may not fulfill the purpose of the journey.

This example shows that direct manipulation yields immediate, incremental and reversible results that are continuously visible by the user. This approach improves the impression that the user is executing the task. In addition, the user is in control as opposed to the computer responding to user requests while the user powerlessly waits to know if the commands are correct akin to the command-line interfaces (Dennehy, nd ).

Since direct manipulation is interactive in nature, the paradigm has benefits of visual representations related to learning retention and speed. It exploits these benefits leading to a system whose process is easy to understand and hard to forget. Another benefit is that because users do not need to memorize complex syntax, they can use analogical reasoning instead thus eliminating the likelihood of errors. However, when errors are made, users can easily correct them due to the ability of the paradigm to reverse actions through a constant visual feedback (Javed, Elmqvist, & Yi, 2011).

Another advantage of direct manipulation is that it is flexible to user specifications. The system allows users to customize functions compared to command-line interfaces. Therefore, users can eliminate complex functions or customize them to suit their preferences. In gaming, for example, users can change the functionality of the gamepad so that certain buttons perform different functions compared to the default settings. In addition, users can adjust some functionality such as speed, color, volume, and size accordingly. Direct manipulation enables users to make changes to the system without the need for system alerts and notifications common in command-line interfaces.  Such alerts often interrupt user experiences. For this reason, direct manipulation enables users to have a smooth experience without interruptions (Heer & Shneiderman, 2012).

Weaknesses of Direct Manipulation

There are various challenges associated with direct manipulation, especially for video content. Direct manipulation is criticized for deficiencies such as access, manipulation of multiple objects and intangible properties. The problem of access is based on the difficulty of direct manipulation to direct distant, small, or attribute-rich aspects under high precision, limited space, and high density. When an object is too small, users may find it difficult to grab or select it for resizing. The problem of access is compounded if there are numerous objects located in one area or in a distant area or outside of the screen in ubiquitous applications. This problem may be solved by zooming but it is subject to extra cognitive load and effort. Furthermore, objects that are inherently rich in attributes may incur the problem of access. Attributes may not be manipulated because of limited visual space to show controls. Visual representation may also be affected when interface controls are displayed (Heer & Shneiderman, 2012).

Interaction with multiple objects is cumbersome using direct manipulation, especially when they have different values such as font size. This means that the cumulative attributes of the chosen objects cannot be correctly presented, hence ambiguity in representation. As such, the predictability associated with the direct manipulation paradigm is lost because of such ambiguity in visual representation. Another challenge of this interface is manipulating properties of intangible objects. An example is abstract attributes with no natural visual aspect, such as spacing between many objects. Other examples include alignment, layout, and sorting order of objects. Manipulating such properties may induce visual clutter in applications (Tudoreanu & Hart, 2004).