Interactivity—a user’s ability to design and transform her media environment alone or collaboratively with other remote end users—is at the core of contemporary media’s new features. However, unlike with mobility, abundance, and multimediality, the iNakba app’s interactivity is very limited.
The application mimics the logic of a social networking application. As such, every user is encouraged to register and create his or her own private profile on the app. Yet, unlike with more prominent social plat- forms—such as Facebook or Twitter—registration on iNakba is not mandatory to function in the app’s environment. Thus, nonregistered users can still search and navigate to demolished villages and access information about them. However, registering does enable users to “follow” specific villages and to see the other followers of their chosen villages. In other words, iNakba encourages users to create a virtual community of a village’s followers. However, this feature does not seem to be very popular. Al-Kabri’s page, for example, has only three followers (who are unrelated to this study).
The opportunity to follow a village does not empower the app’s users, nor can it be defined as a realization of new media’s interactivity. The available social interactions between a village’s followers are limited, almost nonexistent. Besides being able to see the names of other followers, there is no way to contact them via private messages or email. In fact, there is no information about the village’s followers that can be seen by other users except for their names. In addition to the limited opportunity to interact with other users, iNakba does not operate under the logic of a social “feed.” Social platforms such as Facebook enable users to design their mediated environment by contributing content to the platform’s feed and being able to view other users’ content in the same feed. iNakba, in contrast, limits users’ ability to influence the app’s content. Users and village followers cannot affect the textual information about a village at all. The village’s information is fixed, and there is no technical capability to change it. In addition, the video section of each village does not accept contributions from users, who cannot upload new videos or link YouTube videos, for example, to the village’s video page.
Only the villages’ photo sections allow greater interactivity while enabling users to contribute their own content. Users can comment on every photo available on the village’s page, and these comments appear immediately after they are posted. While comments facilitate at least some (asynchronous) discussion between users, the ability to upload photos is even more limited. Every user can upload photos stored in her or his personal mobile device and give it a title and description. However, the content is not uploaded immediately to the village’s photo section; rather, users are informed that it will be available on the village’s page only after an administrator approves it.
Interestingly, according to the iNakba developers’ “official” statement, user interactions and content contributions are welcome. The About section, accessible from the app’s menu bar, contains the text “We Need Your Help!” This help is outlined as an invitation to users to add photographs, video clips, updates, or corrections to the villages’ pages. However, these contributions are made available only by emailing them to the app administrator. Thus, even though users’ contributions are welcomed, solicited, and appreciated, the app’s developers seek to maintain strict control over the very content that is actually accessible to users searching for information about destroyed villages.