Antti Oulasvirta of the UC Berkeley School of Information gave a lecture on Mobile Awareness Services.
The goal discussed was how to create an “awareness cue” on a cell phone device which has a limited screen size, and a limited bandwidth for communicating information to the end users, but needs visual, and textual cues which are easily learned, and used. When intending to communicate with another person or group of people it is desirable to know where they are located, and what they are doing so that one may know when creating a conversation is useful, and appropriate. Some of this can be incorporated into a computer controlled system because people have known routines, and would not wish to be disturbed when at work or sleeping for example. There is the possibility of adding other filters for situation based contacts or making active contacts when some particular social situation or particular environmental condition is in play. Some “clues for contact” might include personal group dynamics, or world wide stimulants with which the person would wish to be in instant communication. These contacts could be more than just cell phones, and include computer linkages, and perhaps radio and TV contacts.
Because, the cell phone and other linked devices are constantly with the individual, and available to them, this hooked up person has a different relationship with the world. Other unhooked people don’t have their immediacy. The linked person has more ad hoc encounters which make sense of the world, make many otherwise obscure happenings topical, and give emotional significance even to distant people’s problems. These hooked in people come to live a life of streaming current information of which they are a living interactive, and meaningful part. Because living in this interactive world makes their life more meaningful they come to understand, and use it for more things, and the world becomes a better place for them and their friends.