Co-Construction of Hybrid Spaces
When computational systems become increasingly mobile and ubiquitous, digital information and the use of computational systems may increasingly be immersed into the physical and social world of objects, people and practices. However, the digital, physical and social materials that make up these hybrid spaces have different characteristics and are hard to understand for users. In addition, users are themselves part in constructing and re-constructing the hybrid spaces.The main question addressed in this thesis is whether making aspects of the digitally mediated hybrid spaces observable and accessible provides support to users. The observability may provide support for the specific task at hand or help in building an understanding for what the system does and how, an understanding that is needed to explain system output and to cope with service breakdowns. The fundament of the approach is to empower users of computational systems to actively make sense of the system themselves.Two prototype services are described, Socifer and MobiTip. Their common denominator was to make digitally mediated parts of the hybrid spaces observable to users. Without disqualifying other kinds of information, the work focussed on digitally mediated social trails of other users.Building on experience from the prototype work and an investigation into in seamful design, observability and awareness, I have investigated the effects of making a computational system’s social context observable to users in a way that- is separated from the service’s main functionality in the interface, allowing it to become peripheral and non-obtrusive;- uses simple models and little interpretation;- to some extent opens up the service to allow for user appropriation of both service content and functionality; and- is informative rather than proactive in order to empower the user rather than acting on the user’s behalf.By designing systems that fulfil these criteria I claim that the user will be supported in performing the task at hand, with or without the service, and that with service use, the user will become more and more aware of the possibilities and limitations of the underlying technology. In addition, the digitally mediated hybrid spaces where physical, social and digital contexts meet constitute application domains in themselves, domains that users may enjoy exploring.
Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation
Keywords:SOCIAL SCIENCES; Statistics, computer and systems science; Informatics, computer and systems science; Computer and systems science; HCI; MMI; social computing; mobile computing; co-construction; seamfulness; awareness; hybrid space
Date of Publication:01/01/2005