Multiple Space Management

A. Dix, A. Friday, B. Koleva, T. Rodden, H. Muller, C. Randell, A. Steed, "Managing multiple spaces" In P. Turner, E. Davenport (eds.) Space, Spatiality and Technologies, Kluwer, 2005. The authors' aim is analyse the way in which multiple spaces, both virtual and physical, can co-exist.

By this we mean that people and objects may have locations in and relationships to both physical space and one or more virtual spaces, and that these different spaces together interact to give an overall system behaviour and user experience.

They use 4 cases (City, CityWide, the Drift Table and Ambient Wood) to see how multiple physical and virtual spaces interact. The choice of the different environment is pretty pertinent since there are mobile applications and an interactive table. They then discriminate 3 types of space:

  • real space – the locations and activities of actual objects and people in physical space
  • measured space – the representation of that space in the computer and the representation of locations of objects and people from sensor data, etc.
  • virtual space – electronic spaces created to be portrayed to users, but not necessarily representing explicitly the real world

I like this representation, here is how they represent it (the discussion about each relation is vrey insightful afterwards):

Why do I blog this? this spatial topic is very central to my research in the sense that I adding another point to each these 3 spaces: a kind of social layer. It's actually thinking about how objects or people relates to the real space (for instance a person located somewhere) the measured space (which feature do we measure from this person? his/her proximity to me?) or the virtual space (What do we represent? and what do we want the user to be aware of with regards to this person/object?). Do people also keep in mind a representation of their partners' position when they're collaborating? Is is it useful in terms of task performance? communication? collaborative processes? The model they propose is very relevant and is a good brick to work on.

An as they say "Given a measured space we then obtain the location of objects within that space using some form of sensing. This sensing may vary in accuracy. (...) there is not a simple relationship between the real and the measured". This is definitely what fabien is investigating: how people deal with this gap between the real and the measured (which is in the end what is reflected by the service). The authors conclude, from their case studies, that people deal remarkably well with complex special relationships, but that it is harder for mere computers. I am not so sure about it (depending on the level of infoliteracy of the users, familiarity with the technology...) but hey let's fabien work on this ;)

Finally, there is surely some food for thoughts for end of cyberspace...