After working with social
navigation for a while, my collegues Per Persson,
Fredrik Espinoza and others, wanted to have a look at whether the idea
would carry over to mobile settings. Would it be possible for users to
leave their trails behind in some kind of mobile service so that
others could see their "virtual graffitti" and be influenced by it?
Per Persson, Fredrik Espinoza and a bunch of students, among them
Petra Sundström (then Fagerberg) built a system named GeoNotes. In GeoNotes, users could
leave virtual post-it notes at locations.
In a user study of GeoNotes, they saw the people wanted to leave these
notes not only on physical locations, but also on virtual
locations. Users in GeoNotes are allowed to freely name the places
that they intended that their post-it note would be placed at. This
was a way of dealing with the problem that the positioning system was
not fine-grained enough. The place-labels system that was integrated
in GeoNotes turned out to be a lucky strike. It allowed users to name
places freely. Read more about this in Fagerberg
et al., 2003.
In my lab we found this fascinating
and therefore continued to build several other social mobile
services. One is the MobiTip
system. In MobiTip, the notes are not located at physical places, but
are instead exchanged between mobile phones via BlueTooth when users
meet. They are socially
positioned. BlueTooth is a fascinating wireless technology that
only has a short range of about 10 metres. This means that if we use
BlueTooth to transfer information between users, then tips will be
exchanged between people who can more or less see eachother. The best
account of this piece of work can be found in Åsa
Rudström's thesis that can be found here.
This closeness of devices equipped with BlueTooth has inspired other
research ideas in the lab. Annika Waern who works with the idea of pervasive games picked
up on this and created a system they named Hot Potatoe (Niemi et al.,
2005). In Hot Potatoe, players leave burning potatoes on other
people's mobile phones (virtually - not for real) who may not even
participate in the game and then the player, in order to win, has to
collect them all back. This could mean "stalking" people who are
unaware of the fact that a game is being played. Annika is exploring
what happens when we break "the magic circle" of a game and act it out
in streets and public places.
After working with these social mobile services for a while, we found
that the prevailing idea that users' should not be told about the
positioning system or network coverage in all its gory details - the
so-called seamlessness ideal - perhaps was not such a good idea after
all. People seems to be intriguied and amused by the possibility to
exploit and appropriate the seams that shine through here and there in
technology. We therefore work on ways of creating more seamful designs.
This work was started by Per
Persson while he was at SICS. He worked with Fredrik Espinoza,
Petra Sundström (then Fagerberg), and many others. When he left,
Martin Svensson and Åsa Rudström and others at
SICS took over this line of research.
Jenny Niemi, Susanna Sawano and Annika Waern (2005) Involving Non-Players in
Pervasive Games, Short paper, Conference on Critical Computing,
Aarhus, August 2005.
Åsa Rudström, Kristina Höök,
and Martin Svensson (2005).
Social positioning: Designing the Seams
between Social, Physical and Digital Space. In 1st International
Conference on Online Communities and Social Computing, at HCII 2005,
24-27 July 2005, Las Vegas, USA., Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Matthew Chalmers, Andreas Dieberger, Kristina Höök, and
(2004). Social Navigation and Seamful Design. Journal of the Japanese
Cognitive Science Society, September 2004. PDF.
Åsa Rudström, Rickard Cöster, Martin Svensson, and
(2004). MobiTip: Using Bluetooth as a Mediator of Social Context. In
Ubicomp 2004 Adjunct Proceedings. PDF.
Persson, P., Espinoza, F.,
Fagerberg, P., Sandin, A. & Cöster, R. (2002) GeoNotes:
A Location-based Information System for Public Spaces,
In Kristina Höök, David Benyon and Alan Munro (eds),
Readings in Social Navigation of Information Space, pp. 151-173,
Petra Fagerberg, Fredrik Espinoza, and Per Persson (2003) What is a
place? Allowing users to name and define places, In Proceedings of CHI
2003, Fort Lauderdale, USA. PDF.
Per Persson and Petra Fagerberg (2002) GeoNotes: a real-use study of a
public location-aware community system, Technical report, (T2002:27),
Stockholm, SICS. (The full story of the GeoNotes user study -
unfortunately not published elsewhere). PDF.