Place Centric P3-Systems

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Place Centric P3-Systems use physical space/s to delineate virtual space/s in

which associated users’ actions and interactions can be seamlessly represented.

In other words, this approach uses virtual spaces that represent

physical locations. These can be divided into systems that are built around

virtual spaces that contain online representations of people’s use of physical

space and those that contain online interactions related to physical location. The

first approach can be used to provide users with a remote understanding

through virtual spaces of how an associated physical space is used. It is only

with the recent advent of person-locator technology that it is now possible to

seamlessly provide such data, and the review of this approach will be fairly

brief. The second approach is where virtual space/s representing physical

space/s are used to manage user interactions, such as message exchanges. This

is one of the traditional approaches adopted by community networks and digital

cities projects to support community interactions.

Place Centric P3-System Features Based on Use of Space by People

• Synchronous Communication or Synchronous Location Awareness

A number of Place Centric P3-Systems exist that provide visualizations of

current use of defined geographical areas/spaces. ActiveMap is a

software application that enables users to visualize the location and

movement of users within a workplace environment, providing largescale,

real-time awareness (McCarthy & Meidel, 1999). The application

provides a window with a background showing a map of the physical

layout of the workplace. In the foreground, images of the faces of people

in that workplace are superimposed over the locations in which they were

last seen. Similarly, the ActiveCampus System’s ActiveCampus Explorer

Map enables such a feature by overlaying online maps with avatars

representing online buddies at a physical location (Griswold et al., 2003).

The Active Badge system also provides a similar feature with the LOOK

(location) command, which supplies users with details about the badges

that are currently in the specified location. A number of operators of Wi-

Fi networks provide visualizations of the physical location of users

connected to their network, although this is typically in an anonymous

format. An example of this is CMUSky, which shows usage of CMU’s

Wireless Andrew System (http://www.cmusky.org/map_usercentric.html).

All these systems provide synchronous location awareness of users in

either an identified or anonymous manner.

• Asynchronous Communication or Asynchronous Location Awareness

The visualization of use of physical space online can be based on historical

(asynchronous) use of the space in question. In a sense online room

calendars providing information about the usage of room spaces are such

systems. Using location technology, such systems can be extended to

include a mechanism for noting attendance in a physical space and making

the data available in persistent historical format. This works similarly to the

people-centric asynchronous systems, however, the focus here is on

defined physical places rather than people’s use of multiple locations.

FolkMusic (Wiberg, 2004), when fully instantiated, system will use GPS

receivers to map audio traces left by individuals to geographic locations,

resulting in music files being associated with specific locations. Result

would be a labeling of a physical space by the musical preferences of

people who use the space in question.

Place Centric P3-System Features Based on Interactions in Matching

Virtual Places

As noted above, this approach involves virtual spaces, which represent

physical space being used to manage user interactions, such as message

exchanges. This is the traditional method used by community networks and

digital cities projects to support community interactions. “Community networks”

aim, through computer-mediated communication systems, to support

interactions among geographical neighbors (Schuler, 1994). An example of a

community network system can be something as simple as an email list for and

about residents of a small township or something more complex such as a

MOOsburg. The MOOsburg community network system of Blacksburg,

Virginia in the United States provides a choice of tools including an interactive

map that can be panned or zoomed to locate and navigate to virtual representations

of geographical places, along with a related chat area, and location

linked web board (Carroll & Rosson, 2003).

Digital cities integrate urban information and create public online spaces for

people living or visiting those cities. “Digital cities” typically provide online

interaction spaces. For example, America Online’s Digital City, Inc., service

(http://digitalcity.com) provides online interaction spaces for local chat and

personals in addition to standardized location-relevant content such as hotels,

restaurants, amusement parks, day trips and itineraries, airport information and

shopping. “Digital city 2” projects in Europe and Japan use high-fidelity,

Internet-based simulacra of cities, updated continuously via cameras and other

sensors to provide data (Ishida, 2002). Digital City Kyoto, like many digital city

projects, addresses a wide range of goals spanning technology development,

new information services and applications, and support for community life

(Ishida, 2002; http://www.digitalcity.gr.jp/). However, such a broad assortment

of features can reduce the chances of gaining broad community support,

participation and collaboration (Aurigi, 2000).

• Synchronous Communication or Synchronous Location Awareness

Synchronous online interaction spaces used by “community networks”

and “digital cities” are of this type. With the creation of more immersive

online environments, the specificity of the representations of physical

geography is increased as it allows interactions to be associated with

specific areas of cartographic visualizations. Wireless network coverage

is also used to increase geographic specificity of interactions by both

enabling and limiting the geographic area in which a set of online interactions

can occur. For example, Wi-Fi (802.11) access points can offer

community chat (e.g., Michigan wireless AP chat) that is limited to the

geographic range of the access points in question. Interactions can be tied

to a place through visualizations of the interactors using the space. The

ActiveCampus Explorer system’s makes this possible by allowing for

nearby buddies displayed on a community map to be messaged (Griswold

et al., 2003). However, this approach is place centric rather than people

centric because the interaction space is not simply created by interpersonal

proximity, rather it is framed within an online map which

represents physical location.

• Asynchronous Communication or Asynchronous Location Awareness

Perhaps the most common type of online interaction space used by

community networks and digital cities is of this type, using traditional

asynchronous communication tools such as email lists and web boards to

support online community interactions for or about a particular physical

location. Some interesting examples of system design approaches developed

outside of the framework of community networks and digital cities

include: spatially (latitude/longitude) addressable web-based bulletin

boards, such as IBM’s World Board, that enforce the geocoding of

messages (Spohrer, 1996); “community geoblogs” (http://

www.brainoff.com/geoblog/); and systems that allow computer mediated

messages to be linked through virtual post-it notes or graffiti to location.

These digital notes behave like electronic Post-its, visible to authorized

users on their mobile devices when they enter the vicinity (Brown, 1995)

or remotely (Burrell & Gay, 2001). In the systems that do allow the

reading of such messages remotely, messages are indexed by locations,

which can be searched or found through the navigation of online maps.

Examples of such systems include E-Graffiti (Burrell & Gay, 2001),

Geonotes (Espinoza et al., 2001), and the “graffiti” function of the

ActiveCampus Explorer (Griswold et al., 2003).

Summary

Table 2 summaries the systems and major system features reviewed in this

section.