CHI2006 Workshop on Mobile Social Software

I spent the end of the afternoon reading the whole set of papers from the future CHI2006 Workshop on Mobile Social Software. They're all available (which is great, I wish other papers from other worshops could be on-line too). Organized by Scott Counts, Henri ter Hofte, and Ian Smith, this workshop "workshop seeks to address these and other key issues around the proliferation of social software on mobile devices. Additionally, the workshop focuses on research tools and approaches for studying these questions, projected future directions for social software on mobile devices, and the role of related technologies, such as hardware and communication protocols. Workshop position papers cover a wide range of topics, from privacy issues to study methodologies to novel social presence mechanisms."

Overall, the papers are dealing with:

  • the balance between awareness information (location, availability, profile...) and privacy
  • the balance between automatic capture of context and an explicit disclosure by the users
  • the use of social-software applications and their relevance for users in various groups (sportspeople, patient communities...)
  • how these applications might be used to share different content (music, digital photography)

Among others, and related to my research I found interesting:

  • Affective Speech for Social Communication: Implementation Challenges in Text-to-Speech for Short Messages by Alia Amin: I am intrigued by this finding
    "Currently, short messages (e.g. SMS/MMS) are only available in visual form. However, in certain situations, users may like to have these messages presented in audio form. (...) Evaluation of this alternative presentation reveals that, for emotion recognition, it was easier to interpret emotion messages generated from affective synthetic speech."

  • REXplorer: A Pervasive Spell-Casting Game for Tourists as Social Software by Rafael Ballagas, Steffen P. Walz and Jan Borchers. It's an interesting pervasive game designed to enhance the tourist experience in the medieval city of Regensburg. The game offers good perspectives and pertinent situations.
  • “That doesn’t tell me what I want!” by David Dearman is perhaps the closer to my interests. Dearman is studying location disclosure in mobile communication. He seems to be interested by this to design more efficient applications:
    "For disclosure applications to be useful and eventually prevalent they need to respect the privacy of their users when disclosing their location, ensuring no information or detail is revealed beyond what they are comfortable disclosing. Inversely, if the information disclosed is not appropriate to the task the requester is attempting to accomplish then they will not use the application."

    This is explicitly an act of "mutual modeling" that aims at supporting coordination between agents (a topic I address in my research).

  • In Visibility Within Mediated Networks: An Exploration of Contextual Factors by Catherine Dwyer and Starr Roxanne Hiltz, I appreciated the reference to Catherine Cramton's work: it's basically the premise of their work: designing applications which aim at increasing mutual knowledge between electronically connected collaborators. This topic is of great importance in the CSCW community.
  • Exploiting Social Environment to Increase Cellphone Awareness by Ashraf Khalil and Kay Connelly offers a pertinent approach:
    "a collaborative approach to minimizing inappropriate cellphone interruptions. The approach uses Bluetooth technology to discover and communicate with the surrounding cell phones in order to read their notification profiles. The profile of the majority is assumed to be the most suitable setting for the current social environment. Cellphones running the collaborative service can automatically update their profile according to the majority profile or at least alert the user to do so. (...) For instance if a user in a meeting has forgotten to turn his cell phone ringer off, his cell phone can contact other cell phones in the same room and learn that most of them have their ringer off. Consequently, the cell phone can safely assume that it should also have its ringer off, and when the meeting is over the cell phone can return to its default state (ringer on) without the user having to take action. (...) we envision many other interaction paradigms between users and the surrounding environments that could benefit from such approach. For example, cell phones may carry their users’ preferences for room temperature, and smart places could customize the room temperature according to the majority’s preference."

Why do I blog this? even though I am more concerned by how location awareness features of this sort of tool might modify collaboration, the topic addressed here are interesting and sometimes related to what we do with catchbob.