Awareness in Social Networks

Back in 97, the CHI community was putting some effort in the creation of remote awareness platforms. These platforms allow friends and relatives to experience awareness of the other’s activities. These experiences are sometimes peripheral and sometimes more intrusive. Example of these systems is the AROMA platform in which two users could experience this kind of awareness through different output devices in their local office i.e., an abstract painting, a merry-go-round, and background sea sound.

I have not follow the development of this field ever since. The only work I can recall, from what I have been looking at while doing my PhD, is the Tableau Machine which makes abstract representations of the captured activities going on in households. However, I am sure that more research in the field will uncover many projects dealing with remote awareness and abstract representations of captured data.

This blog post brings to the table an idea: Social network sites help in keeping people informed on what their contacts have been doing lately, as much as every person wants to reveal. If a contact updates information in the social network very often, this information can induce awareness to the contacts. However, the person has to open the browser or any other input application in order to publish this information to the website, making the process intrusive and unnatural. On the other hand, the most popular social network sites are providing open API’s for external developers build applications for them. This situation (social network sites and open APIs) enables us to retake efforts like AROMA and build awareness applications. A simple example consists on building an application that runs locally, captures data from the camera, the microphone and the computer busyness, generates an abstract image and posts it to a facebook application. I cannot foresee what could happen next, bed it’s for sure a big test bed for awareness technology.

Awareness and Social Networks can be linked together. The stage is set.



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