Investigating Awareness-Supporting Techniques in Co-located Sensemaking

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Virginia Tech


Co-located sensemaking has benefitted from multi-user multi-touch devices such as tabletops and wall-mounted displays. Sensemakers use these displays to establish personal workspaces in which to perform individual sensemaking tasks, while preserving a shared space for the exchange and integration of findings. A large open interaction space allows multiple sensemakers to interact with the display at the same time and to communicate with partners face-to-face. However, collaborative systems must balance the tradeoff between working separately to complete individual work, and the need to communicate and maintain collaborative awareness. Dividing the tasks and working at the same time might encourage more alternative exploration paths, but reduced social exchange could also lead to weak mutual understanding and increased effort for work integration. Furthermore, close collaboration on the same task increases mutual awareness, but the tendency toward one-person dominance or turn-taking interaction underutilizes individual time and space, thereby reducing the benefits of divide-and-conquer. The four studies introduced in this dissertation investigated co-located space factors for notifications and shared visualization as two awareness-supporting techniques to assist individual contribution and teamwork. The research identifies control, awareness, and communication as key co-located space factors to balance cooperation, coordination, contribution, and communication. Knowledge on how notification and visualization techniques affect the co-located factors is explored and summarized. The findings identify design knowledge to better balance the individual work and styles of collaboration. Finally, this dissertation concludes by examining how awareness-supporting techniques affect the relationship between control, awareness, and communication.



Collaboration, Sensemaking, Awareness