[AG-TECH] VV Spatial metaphor (was AG Security)

Wenjun Liu wliu at mcs.anl.gov
Fri Sep 27 13:53:46 CDT 2002


In response to Brian's thread, I would like to expand the discussion into
more general design guidelines. Even though most people in this mailing list
are AG-TECH designers, I believe many may find my message off beat. Just
treat it as a casual encounter of a different kind and you won't find it too

Most technologies are based on reality but try to surpass reality. AG is a
good example. We have VV metaphor that imitates workplace arrangement with
different rooms and meeting places that we are all familiar with. But we try
to make it more flexible and powerful by providing us virtual proximities to
a larger or more appropriate set of colleagues over VV while in reality, our
office can only be surrounded by a few (sometimes, for task purpose, not so
suitable) others along a corridor.

And that is the reality and virtual reality (VR) that interest us.

A general guideline to design VR is to make it feel like real, e.g., try to
match face-to-face interaction in many VR efforts. But reality is not
necessarily good. For example, sometimes we complain that meetings in
reality waste too much of our time. Do we want to or did we already make AG
meetings "feel" more like real?

In addition to formal meeting, we also want casual/informal encounters over
AG because we think that is the way innovative ideas are revealed to us by
talking to strangers, people with different visions and knowledge. In
reality, however, casual/informal encounters happen most likely among people
who know each other well. Hence we can't hope to casual-interact with people
we don't know over AG. There get be some kind of mechanism to make us know
each other before we can casually interact. That mechanism is sometimes
called "pulling together similar interests." Conference in reality serves
that purpose pretty well. In a digital world, message posting can do it
better. PIG may make casual/informal encounters easier among people who know
each other. But to expand our scale of casual/informal encounters, we need
something else.

This brings us to another related guideline for designing effective VR: task
facilitation. Mentioning "group collaboration" is not specific enough for
design purpose. Collaboration has many forms. Talking is only one of them.
Although current AG supports talking pretty well, we get to include other
tools and features (distributed PowerPoint is only one of them) to make AG
really different from video conferencing.

It seems to me there are two types of efforts to improve AG:
1. Efforts to make it feel like real (imitative efforts): better audio,
video, user interface, etc. that make AG fade to the background; less
mediated, more communication.
2. Efforts to make it go beyond reality (creative efforts): tools like
information visualization that help people see things in a way otherwise
impossible in reality (processing information); or tools that facilitate
group processes like sending and receiving messages that stimulate,
exchange, extend, and apply creative ideas (creating knowledge).

We probably will see many efforts of the first category these days but may
see more of the second category in the future.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Brian Corrie" <brian.corrie at newmic.com>
To: <judson at mcs.anl.gov>; "Jay Beavers" <jbeavers at microsoft.com>; "Tony
Rimovsky" <tony at ncsa.uiuc.edu>; "Shawn Davis" <wdavis at ncsa.uiuc.edu>
Cc: <ag-tech at mcs.anl.gov>
Sent: Thursday, September 26, 2002 6:55 PM
Subject: RE: [AG-TECH] VV Spatial metaphor (was AG Security)

> Hello all,
> I feel the need to reopen this thread in anticipation of the AG2.0
> next week. There are two aspects to the VV metaphor that I would like to
> expanded. One is to make the venues feel more like a workspace. Perhaps
> means a better user interface (as Ivan suggests) and perhaps a better look
> and feel (as Jay suggests). My understanding of the original goal of the
> venues concept (correct me if I am wrong) was to provide both a scheduled
> place to meet as well as a casual place for like minded people to gather.
> many ways this was based on the way the folks at Argonne used their muds.
> use the AG venues using the scheduled meeting metaphor a fair bit but
> casual/informal use is not widely used other than to test things. One
> for this may be that until recently it was difficult to drop in on a venue
> from the desktop. Casual interaction is thus unlikely because one has to
> to a physical AG room. Perhaps the PIG and other ligher weight
> will help on that front.
> The other aspect that needs to be addressed is Ivan's third point. I think
> that the rooms need to be more flexible in how they are used. I would like
> be able to populate a venue with the technologies that I want to use for
> meeting and then want the venue to be able to handle the plumbing much
> it does now for audio and video. That is, I want to be able to say my
> has a powerpoint component and for the power point file to be distributed
> the remote site and to start automatically like vic and rat do now.
> Similarly, I would like to be able to say that my meeting uses higher
> MPEG 2 video. Or perhaps multipe video streams to which the client can
> subscribe. If we can do this in an extensible way (so we can add
> applications) then the AG becomes a very powerful and flexible tool (not
> it isn't already - read that as more powerful and more flexible 8-).
> Now I would be a happy camper if I was told we could do all this with
> 8-) If not, then I look forward to the discussions as to how we might be
> to move in that direction...
> Cheers,
> Brian

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