Towards a Dynamic Multiscale Personalized Information Space
The Convivial Computing Salon at <Programming>, 2020
The historical moment when a person worked in front of a single computer has passed. Computers are now ubiquitous and embedded in virtually every new device and system, connecting our personal and professional activities to ever-expanding information resources with previously unimaginable computational power. Yet with all the increases in capacity, speed, and connectivity, our experiences too often remain difficult, awkward, and frustrating. Even after six decades of design evolution there is little of the naturalness and contextual sensitivity required for convivial interaction with computer-mediated information.
We envision a future in which the existing world of documents and applications is linked to a multiscale personalized information space in which dynamic visual entities behave in accordance with cognitively motivated rules sensitive to tasks, personal and group interaction histories, and context. The heart of the project is to rethink the nature of computer-mediated information as a basis to begin to fully realize the potential of computers to assist information-based activities. This requires challenging fundamental presuppositions that have led to today’s walled gardens and information silos. Our goal is to catalyze an international research community to rethink the nature of information as a basis for radically advancing the human-centered design of information-based work and helping to ensure the future is one of convivial, effective, and humane systems. In this paper, we propose a new view of information systems, discuss cognitive requirements for a human-centered information space, and sketch a research agenda and approach.