QofR: Terminology

Updated: Apr 7, 2021

“How can materiality enhance the end user/audience experience?”

In order to begin to explore the question, I want to break it up into its constituent parts.

1. The quality of being composed of matter or have a material existence

2. The material or physical aspect or character of something – the outward appearance

3. In Law, the quality of being relevant or significant.

The word ‘matter’ is derived from the Latin ‘materia’ meaning ‘wood’ or ‘timber’: a metonym for the physical world, as distinct from the world of the mind or spirit.

There is a suggestion of superficiality implicit in the word imposed by this distinction: if you are concerned with the physical rather than spiritual world. This is prevalent in modern usage - if you are ‘materialistic’ you are commercially-minded, more interested in ownership of material objects, than lofty spiritual or mental aspirations.

1. In various figurative or immaterial senses

a. To exalt in dignity, rank, estimation or wealth

b. To elevate spiritually or morally

2. To raise in degree, heighten, intensify

3. To raise or increase in price, value, importance, attractiveness, etc.

In the context of the question then, enhance may refer to improving an audiences' experience, but could also refer to its intensity or importance, or the elevation of that experience to loftier heights. The link between the baseness of materialism and the spiritual or moral imperative of 'enhance' is interesting.


1. A range or sphere of hearing: ‘within the audience of these people’

2. A formal interview with a person of authority

3. A body of spectators or hearers (at an event or as a collective body of receivers).


1. A person who has or makes use of a thing.

There is a definite passive/active difference between the two. 'Audience' when taken literally means a collection of listeners. Hearing is often considered a passive sense (unlike sight or touch). On the other hand, a user is someone actively engaged with the object. User also naturally implies the object has a use, while audience infers communication.

As a noun

1. The actual observation of facts or events considered as a source of knowledge

2. Being consciously affected by an event. As event by which one is affected.

As a verb

  1. To have experience of; to meet with; to feel, suffer, undergo

  2. To learn (a fact) by experience; to find.

The word stems from the Latin ‘experiri’ meaning ‘to try’ and is linked to ‘experiment’ and ‘expert’. As its various meanings suggests, experience seems to infer a traditional dualism of knowledge (the mind) and emotions (the body).

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