The context of a display ecology

In Displays in the Wild: Understanding the Dynamics andEvolution of a Display Ecology, Elaine M. Huang, Elizabeth D. Mynatt, Jay P. Trimble is an in-depth field evaluation of large interactive displays; it exemplifies the "context of a display ecology".

It's a study about large interactive displays within a multi-display work environment used in the NASA Mars Exploration Rover (MER) missions, used in a complex and ecologically valid setting. What is interesting, is the lessons learned from this experiment:

the “success” of a large interactive display within a display ecology cannot be measured by whether a steady state of use is reached. Because people appropriate these tools as necessary when tasks and collaborations require them, there may be a natural ebb and flow of use that does not correspond to success or failure, but rather to the dynamic nature of collaborative work processes. Success is therefore better evaluated by examining the ease and extent of support that such displays provide when tasks call for a shared visual display or interactive work surface. (...) Another important lesson regarding the value of large displays in work environments came from our observation of the interplay between interactive use and ambient information display. In the realm of large interactive display research, a decrease in interactivity is often viewed as a failure of the system to support workgroup practices. We observed a migration from interactive use to ambient information display, and through our interviews discovered how valuable this ambient information was. (...) in the greater context of a display ecology, it is misleading to evaluate the isolated use of a single system; the existence of other displays in the environment means that it is important to understand how the ecology functions as a whole, not just how individual displays are used.

Why do I blog this? I found this paper interesting because it describes how people made use of such a display; the highlights researchers brought forward also show pertinent issues in the domain of ambient/interactive furnitures, which could be helpful for some of our projects at the lab.