If you're looking for digitalsurface.org, it is has been overhauled. The most popular demos and examples have now been moved to Digital Surface Labs. Commentary and discussion articles have been moved to Digital Surface Insight.
Between 2007 and 2010, digitalsurface.org was the professional and personal commentary of Jamie Gledhill. In 2009, Jamie set up digital media services company, Digital Surface Ltd, which has just celebrated its second year in business. Below is the original article published by Jamie in November 2007 outlining a rationale for the concept of a 'digital surface'.
'Surface' implies solidity, tangibility, touch-ability and serves to remind that although digital content is essentially ephemeral and intangible, the methods of interaction between human and computer are most definitely physical.
The term 'control surface' is already used in some fields of digital creativity (eg music production) to describe a physical object that provides the means of controlling the process of composition.
This is a good starting point, although why should the digital producer be limited to the exploitation of the surface idea merely as a means of control when there are a whole range other connotations of the word 'surface' which lend themselves well to identifying and symbolising differing interaction types?
User expectations of digital content grow hand in hand with an ever increasing command of modes of digital interaction. At the same time the threshold to participation in digital social interaction is constantly being lowered while the incentive to become involved is being raised with each micro-generation of ever more attractive offerings.
We want the ability to create, to play with, to co-create, to modify, to destroy, to comment on, to react to and to otherwise engage with exciting digital creations.
The display of digital content itself is but a surface - a transient portal onto a digital domain built of cold code, servers and microchips. A monitor is a façade of pixels assembled according to any number of systems of termite-like organisation. Even digital audio is a veneer - a dimensional projection we can easily conceptualise as an aural surface (aka the Wall of Sound).
Digital Surface seeks to combine the display surface and interaction surface which can be thought of as one and the same thing.
In fact, with the advent of touch screen devices, the digital surface doubling as façade and means of interaction is already a reality although no doubt touch screen will soon seem as clunky as keyboard only interaction does now (how unwieldy?).
The trick is for the digital producer to use imposed interface boundaries and restrictions to her advantage - to inspire lateral thinking and to promote the creative exploitation of interfaces that are readily available.
Digital Surface promotes the unity of interaction and façade alongside intuitive tactility.
A sensory relationship is formed with a physical surface when a finger is run across it, a relationship that is coloured by the physical characteristics of that surface - eg pitted and rough or smooth and slippery.
An infant does not think about testing a physical surface in this way - it is natural, intuitive and seductive. Similarly, an adult free of constraint does not hesitate to investigate a digital object in any way they can - the characteristics of the ensuing digital interaction similarly help to define and colour a relationship with that object.
The inspired digital producer is able to take the universal desire to form a relationship with an object and / or an environment and mold it to motivate the user towards points of interaction within her digital proposition without the user necessarily being conscious of the reasons for doing so.
Digital Surface embraces the facade of what we see, hear, touch and the means by which we unthinkingly interact with that facade - intuitive, sensory interaction with engaging digital proposition.