On Designing Systems that Support Coherent Online Interaction
Speaker: Tom Erickson , IBM Watson Research Center
Date: October 10 2003
Relevant URL: http://www.pliant.org/personal/Tom_Erickson
As humans, we are exceptionally sensitive to the actions and interactions of those around us. Every day we make countless decisions that are shaped by our social context. Whether it's wrapping up a talk when the audience starts fidgeting, or deciding to forego the grocery shopping because the parking lot is jammed, social information provides a basis for inferences, planning, and coordinating activity. Yet, when our interaction shifts to digital media, much of the grace with which we conduct our face to face interactions is lost.
As a designer, I am interested in remedying this situation. In this talk I describe a strand of research into how to design online systems that support coherent interaction. I begin with a case study of a rather unusual example of coherence in a digital system, from which I draw some design implications. Next I discuss how we operationalized these implications in the concept of the social proxy: a minimalist representation of people and their activities in a particular context. I continue by describing systems we have designed and deployed, and end with a range of concept pieces that illustrate the breadth of the concept.
Thomas Erickson is a Research Staff Member at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in New York where he works on designing systems which support network mediated group interaction. An interaction designer and researcher, his approach to systems design is shaped by work in sociology, rhetoric, architecture and urban design. He has contributed to the design of many products, and authored about 40 publications on topics ranging from personal electronic notebooks and information retrieval systems to pattern languages and virtual community. See http://www.pliant.org/personal/Tom_Erickson.
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