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The Magic Window: lessons from a year in the life of a co-present media space

James Hyun Hoi Kim, Carl Gutwin, Sriram Subramanian, The Magic Window: lessons from a year in the life of a co-present media space. ACM Group. November 2007. PDF, 534 Kbytes.

Abstract

The windows and doorways that connect offices to public spaces are a site for people to gather awareness information and initiate interaction. However, these portals often reveal more information to the public area than the office occupant would like. As a result, people often keep doors and window blinds closed, which means that nobody can gather awareness information, even those with whom the occupant would be willing to share. One solution to this problem is a co-present media space a?? a computer-mediated video connection at the boundary between an office and a public area. These systems can provide both greater privacy control to the occupant and greater overall awareness information to observers. To see how co-present media spaces would work in real world settings, we built what we believe are the first ever co-present media spaces, and deployed them in two offices. From observations gathered over fifteen months, it is clear that the systems can do a better job of balancing the occupanta??s need for privacy and the observersa?? need for awareness better, than a standard window. However, we also identified a number of issues that affected the use and the success of the systems: the existence of alternate information sources, confusion with existing social norms, disparities between effort and need, and reduced interactional subtlety for observers in the public area. Our work contributes both a novel arrangement of a media space for co-present collaborators, and the first investigation into the design factors that affect the use and acceptance of these systems.

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