User experience of Community Displays

"Understanding and Designing for the Voluntary Adoption of Community Displays" by Harry Brignull is a very relevant thesis that deals with large digital wall display system for the support of informal social interaction in communal spaces.

One of the contributions of this thesis is a critical analysis of research studies revealing two distinct categories of Community Display settings: ‘one shot’ usage settings and ‘on-going’ usage settings. ‘One shot’ usage settings include one-off social events, conferences (McCarthy, 2003) and festivals (Agamanolis, 2003). (...) ‘On-going’ settings, on the other hand include common rooms (Houde et al, 1998), cafés (Churchill et al, 2003), and relaxation areas (Grasso, 2003), and are used regularly by an established community over a period of months or years.

Findings show that that the spatial distribution of interaction around a Community Display is of crucial importance to understanding its usage and adoption. The concept of ‘flow’ is introduced to describe the manner in which users move through space; and the concept of a ‘honey pot’ is introduced to describe the public interaction space around a community display which users are attracted to and congregate in because of the resources it offers. The public availability of interaction with a Community Display is found to be important in that it allows others to ‘oversee’ interaction while going about other things (Heath and Luff, 1991), creating opportunities for them to join in, and thus facilitating spontaneous social congregations. This overseeing is also found to be crucial to the learning process - studies carried out show that people predominantly learned about Community Displays by observing others using them, i.e. vicariously.

Why do I blog this? I am interested in how interaction could be spatially distributed and how potential users could apprehend such artefacts because it relates with my research about the impacts of technologies on space and place.