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Designing for the invisible: user-centered design of infrastructure awareness systems
Hincapié-Ramos J., Tabard A., Bardram J.  DIS 2010 (Proc. of the 8th ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, Aarhus, Denmark,  Aug 16-20, 2010) 302-305. 2010. Type: Proceedings
Date Reviewed: Dec 6 2010

Aiming to develop an infrastructure awareness system, Hincapié-Ramos, Tabard, and Bardram apply card sorting for assessing users’ ideas on infrastructures. They relate awareness model cards (AMC)--their method--to Halskov and Dalsgård’s inspiration cards [1], but the origin can easily be placed more than a half-century earlier.

Card sorting is an appealing research paradigm; its simplicity is probably its biggest strength. Since its introduction in the late 1940s, it has shown its usefulness in a number of fields, such as psychology, computer science, and design [2]. Card sorting is used to assess several characteristics of people; in most cases, they have associations as a common denominator.

The authors propose two types of cards: focus--that is, users’ interests--and nimbus--that is, the information an object projects about itself [3]. The extent to which users’ interests and system characteristics map to each other can then be assessed. This is illustrated in a pilot study, but only some qualitative characteristics of this study are provided.

Overall, the paper introduces an interesting method founded on existing research paradigms. Its introduction is timely, as it enables the assessment of users’ awareness of ambient (invisible) technology. However, validation studies are needed to confirm its usefulness in practice.

Reviewer:  Egon L. van den Broek Review #: CR138618 (1109-0968)
1) Halskov, K.; Dalsgård, P. Inspiration card workshops. In Proc. of the 6th Conference on Designing Interactive Systems Carroll, J.M., Bødker, S., Coughlin, J., Eds. ACM Press, 2006, 2–11.
2) Wood, J.R.; Wood, L.E. Card sorting: current practices and beyond. Journal of Usability Studies 4, (2008), 1–6.
3) Benford, S.; Fahlin, L. Proceedings of the Third European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW 93). Springer, 1993.
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