Criterion: Operational transparency

Exemplar: Meeting rooms, the Ontario Telepresence Project

Bill is Principal Scientist at Alias | Wavefront, director of the Telepresence Project, and a professor of Computer Science at the University of Toronto.

It sounds banal to state that the interactions in group activity are complex, but when it comes to supporting such interactions via technology, it seems that even the banal, or seemingly obvious, needs to be made explicit. Perhaps this is because, despite the complexity, we are so skilled in the task, that we take it for granted, or forget how long it took us to learn. A bit like tying up one's shoelace, or riding a bicycle. Note, however, that all of the preceding has to do with the "how" or operational aspects of group dynamics, not the content. And it is just as well that we are skilled in these tasks, or else there would be serious task interference between the "how" and the "what" aspects of interaction.
All of this leads to the point that when group interactions are mediated by technology, the risk of interference rises dramatically. And the simple point that follows, then, is that the objective of good design is to make the intrusive aspects of the technology disappear as quickly as possible. In this presentation, we will discuss how this can be achieved, using examples from the Ontario Telepresence Project. What will unfold is a story of adaptive environments, that have knowledge about domain specific activities, and which are tailored to fit the existing (social) skills of the group - skills already acquired from a lifetime of living in the everyday world.

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