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April 27, 2007

Lit Review - Semi-Public Displays for Small, Co-located Groups

Semi-Public Displays for Small, Co-located Groups (Huang and Mynatt 2003)

This paper describes a semi-public display designed to support small group awareness. The authors discuss the advantages of scoping public displays for a small group, for example, small groups are more likely to have common interests and have a greater desire to remain aware of group member activities.

The author shared the public display space among 4 display modules: active portrait, attendance panel, reminders, and collaboration space. Reminders, mirrors help requests sent to the group listserv. The collaboration module links whiteboard space to help requests enabling lab users to make asynchronous comments on reminder system items. Active portrait provides a visualization of lab attendance using a group photo of lab members. Active portrait uses keyboard usage and instant messaging status to determine when users are in the lab, and slowly fades the photographs of lab members who haven’t been in the lab recently. Attendance panel is anonymous method for lab users to specify that they are attending events. Each event is represented as a flower, and lab users can change the state of a petal on the flower to represent whether they are attending an event or not. One can quickly glance at the ‘attendance flowers’ to determine if many lab users will be attending a specific event. Of these modules, attendance panel and reminder panel proved the most useful to lab users.


Huang, E. M. and E. D. Mynatt (2003). Semi-public displays for small, co-located groups. Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, USA, ACM Press.


This paper provides a useful emphasis on the difficulty of building displays for public spaces due to varying user interests, and hard to determine privacy constraints. The authors note that semi-public displays allow designers more easily understand their audience to build useful features. This also paper provides a nice cross section of example modules for a semi-public display; interestingly, the authors do not emphasize the importance of a modular public display. I can imagine how prospero could absorb some of the lessons from this study to build an adaptive public display, which changed its configuration based on the users surrounding it, and it’s situational context – providing benefits to both small and large groups.

Posted by bcx at April 27, 2007 12:10 AM

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