Talk at the giCentre: How Good is Good Enough?

Posted: January 27th, 2008 | No Comments »

Last Wednesday, I gave a 20min brownbag talk at the giCentre at the City University in London. The presentation was divided in several parts. First, I define the shortcomings in location-aware computing and their consequences that generate a socio-technical gap. I continued by highlighted that the problems do not necessarily lay in the immaturity of technologies, but also in the failure to match people’s own perception of space (granularity, multiple-spaces). Then I detailed the evidences of this gap from my studies and observations of the appropriation of location-aware applications (CatchBob! and Satnav in Taxi). That lead me to describe an approach that leverages digital traces to tailor location information and define user’s the area of attention and their perception of area of influence of points of interest. In that context, I described the Tracing the visitor’s eye project and briefly introduced the context of future experiments (WikiCity and the Wireless City). The slides are online (5.5MB).

Girardin Gicentre Brownbag.016

The presentation generated lively exchanges with Jonathan Raper, Jason Dykes, Aidan Slingsby, David Mountain, Jo Wood that benefited me to frame of my thesis. Besides arguing on the potential of volunteer generated information (VGI), the discussion centered on the influence of the presentation of location information on the behavior of people (the difference in the communication in CatchBob! (passivity), multiplicity of the sources of information and location-information trunking for taxi drivers) and these behaviors influence the data (feedback loop in WikiCity, geotagging in Flickr). I was in fact advised to focus on how the co-evoluation between location-aware systems and their user’s practices/behaviors (data influencing the behaviors influencing the data).

Relation to my thesis: This week’s trip in the UK is about testing my ideas and approaches with a verity of experts from different fields (I got the pleasure to meet UCL’s Jon Reades to discuss urban planning and urban computing). I must admit that it is a truly rewarding experience to pick the brains of geographers, geovisualization experts and social scientists and have them criticize my work. Presenting and arguing on the current state of my research work should help me create a “meme” and that everybody starts to believe my “story”. Many people have now advised me to get back to my different experiments and (re)define what there is to study for each of them. Categories or research thems and specific question should help me focus on 1 specific aspect and help me find the gaps in “my story” (e.g. thesis).