[Research] Analysing behavior toward maps

Brown, B. and E. Laurier (2005) Designing electronic maps: an ethnographic approach (.pdf). To appear in: L. Meng, A. Zipf, T. Reichenbacher (Eds.), Map-based mobile services – Theories, Methods and Implementations. Springer Verlag

While ethnographic methods are an established tool for requirements analysis in Human Computer Interaction (HCI) and Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW), they have seldom been used for the design of electronic map systems. This chapter presents an ethnographic study of city tourists’ practices that draws out a number of implications for designing map technologies. We describe how tourists work together in groups, collaborate around maps and guidebooks, and both ‘pre-’ and ‘postvisit’ places. These findings have been used in the design of the ‘george square’ system which allows tourists to collaborate around an electronic map at a distance.

I particulary appreciate the definition of a map as a collaborative artifact. From an observatory poitn of view, it's always fun to see people collaborate from the beginning (unfolding the map), the core of the task (finding something on the map) and the end (folding the map). Thsi ritual is fantastic! Besides, this paper is useful since it analyses how people collaboratively make senses of maps. This then gives ideas about how designing locative applications based on maps.