Course about pervasive computing and the socio-cognitive affordances of space

Tomorrow, I'll give a lecture about pervasive computing and the socio-cognitive affordances of space, which is my research topic. It's the second time I do this talk (the first time was last year) and now that I am reshuffling the presentation, what struck me is that nothing really changed in one year: for instance, there are still boring scenarios of LBS usage and techno-push is still the norm. Julian's take about this is that "maybe when we stop calling Location Based Services "Location Based Services" we'll finally be onto something". The presentation is here (10.5pdf, Mb). To put it shortly, it's about the emergence of pervasive/ubiquitous computing and how it relates to fundamental of human behavior. I describe how space/place affords various social and cognitive functions, which might be the starting points of relevant design ideas for user-centered applications/services.

By 'socio-cognitive functions of space', I refer to all the processes influenced by spatial features. This relates to phenomenon such as: proxemics, cultural values of a place, schelling points, territoriality, copresence which eases referential communication, functional values of a place (a waiting room is meant to foster a 'sit and wait' behavior), topology that foster specific behavior like division of labor, behavioral framing based on places (communication is different in a lecture room than in a café)... social navigation based on spatial features (footprints in the snow to find your way).

The conclusion is that space (and consequently all its affordances) should be taken into account when designing environment that supports collaborative Work/learning and play.

This is part of a course about Computer Supported Collaborative Work given by Pierre Dillenbourg and myself at the faculty of computer science at EPFL.