Awareness of the future and some thoughts about classification

Reading Mr. Heathcote's post about serendipity, it struck me as interesting that more and more awareness systems are directed towards the future. As Chris puts it "it’s exciting that there’s services looking at the future – much effort has gone into recording, collecting and remembering". For example dopplr allows people to say where you’re going to travel and when (eventually you're notified whether some contacts will be there too). Similarly, WAYN allows this for the present and the future. Another example is a whereabouts clock namad CLoc (slightly similar to the one designed by Microsoft) created at the Interactive Institute in Sweden. This clock is an interactive ambient display artefact that shows the current, past and planned location and activities of each member of a household. There is even a knob allows one to see the past location (captured through GPS reporting and radio beacons scanning) and the planned location proposed by the users. For more, see Fahlén, L., Frécon, E., Hansson, P., Avatare Nöu, A., & Söderberg, J. (2006). CLoc - Clock Interface for Location and Presence. ERCIM Workshop "User Interfaces for All", Bonn, Germany, 27 - 28 September 2006. What is interesting here is future location-awareness. Unlike past and real-time mutual location-awareness, it's impossible to capture future's location. What can be done is either to ask the user to give plans or to make automatic inferences based on data-mining of past locations and certain moments of time. Although automatic inferences can have some potential, the user explicitation of his/her future whereabouts is very pertinent IMO because it let the control (of revealing one's spatial behavior) in the hand of the user. This is extremely important in terms of user experience since it allows "intentionality": the giving of one's location is not a raw information, it's an act of communication that has underlying implications. In the dobblr, case, the underlying intention is declaring that one is free to contact the friend in the area: it's about declaring one's availability.

It finally occurred to me that the area of location-based application is now well differentiated by the time spectrum it covers. What I called mutual location awareness in my dissertation (knowing where other people are located) can relate to the past, the present and the future. Theories in Computer Supported Collaborative Work describes this in term of synchrony: participants may either be aware synchronously (knowledge about events that happen currently) or asynchronously (knowledge about events in the past). The problem here is that some asynchronous systems are both conveying elements about the past and the present; in addition, this variable does not account for knowledge about future events. Therefore, instead of using the synchrony metaphor, let's use "time span".

Why do I blog this? sorting out ideas for a paper about mutual location-awareness.