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April 26, 2007

Lit Review - Augmenting the Social Space of an Academic Conference

Augmenting the Social Space of an Academic Conference (McCarthy, McDonald et al. 2004)

This paper describes the deployment of two proactive displays, AutoSpeakerID and Ticket2Talk, at an academic conference. AutoSpeakerID is a system that displays information about registered users who choose to ask a question after a presentation. For example, if I was a registered user of the system and chose to ask a question to the speaker, the display would show my name, Ben Congleton, and my affiliation, the University of Michigan. The second system deployed by the researchers was Ticket2Talk, T2T is similar to AutoSpeakerID, but is situated in a less formal space, and designed more to foster informal interactions among conference participants. For example, if a registered user was near a T2T display, the display would show their name, affiliation, picture, and a ‘ticket to talk’ (an image or URL that the user would pre-select on a topic that they wanted to talk about). The T2T system also maintained a history of recently displayed ‘tickets to talk’ and the user they were affiliated with. This provided people who were near the display with information about people who are in their environment, but who’s tickets were not ‘highlighted’ on the display.

The remainder of the paper discusses qualitative observations and survey response data collected during the system’s deployment. The authors found that both systems enhanced the feeling of community – this was mostly accomplished by helping conference attendees attach names to faces and affiliations, thus, improving awareness of people in one’s local social environment, but also the makeup of conference as a whole. The authors also discuss how the system managed privacy concerns and meshed with existing social practice. The authors found that by making conference attendees ‘jump through’ hoops to use the system, they mitigated privacy concerns by ensuring that users who made it through the registration process had bought into the system. They noted that while their system encountered problems meshing with existing social practice, it is highly probably that the novelty of the system affected some of these changes, and that this might not be a particularly valuable goal when attempting to augment an environment.

The authors conclude with some remarks about the benefits of providing awareness in social settings, and some observations about their proactive interaction model. Namely, a proactive interaction model is somewhat unfamiliar to the majority of users who are accustomed to direct interaction with the computation in their environment, as opposed to having the display ‘react’ to their presence in a more passive way. The authors conclude noting the importance of considering user privacy, methods for building social awareness, and noting the importance of exploring the design of ‘proactive interactions’.

McCarthy, J. F., D. W. McDonald, S. Soroczak, D. H. Nguyen and A. M. Rashid (2004). Augmenting the social space of an academic conference. Proceedings of the 2004 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. Chicago, Illinois, USA, ACM Press.

Takeaways: Most of the findings were anecdotal, and specific to the T2T and AutoSpeakerID system. However, the authors do contribute by providing some insight into how social awareness can be facilitated using two types of proactive display, and provide some evidence that the design of proactive displays should be an interesting area for exploration. At the very least, this is an interesting field study of proactive displays in use.

Posted by bcx at April 26, 2007 12:50 PM


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