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What’s new for awareness researchers?: an interview

I was interviewed at SASO as part of collecting what people thought were the ways forward and important topics for pervasive systems.

The Aware project co-ordinates between a collection of EU projects into self-awareness and adaptive systems. As part of its remit it collects the evolving opinions of the research community to try to decide where the research is leading, and in particular what are the emerging questions that might be supported by future EU initiatives. Interviewing researchers is a new departure that I haven’t seen before, and they interviewed several people with diverse backgrounds to get a broad sweep of the area.

I focused on how little we understand how to model what people actually do in the course of their lives, and consequently how hard it is to explain these processes to computers and build computer-mediated analysis and support.

(Sorry about the noise in the background, we were standing in a corridor….)


  1. Your description of the problems of providing effective computing support for people’s lives reminded me of descriptions of the problems people with Asperger’s syndrome have picking up contextual clues, understanding the flow of conversation, and so on.

    Is there any mileage in looking at the coping techniques which have been developed by and for them which, as I understand it, involve them learning to detect these things by conscious reasoning, to see if they can tell us anything useful about who computers could do it?

    • That’s a great idea!

      You may also be able to do a better job is you have a handle on the processes the people are engaged in as “primary” tasks, and then look for “intrusions” into this flow by “secondary” tasks: so if you’re going for a cup of tea and on the way stop to get your mail and to call in on someone. The interleavings are relatively constrained, more so than in the normal calculi we’d use to model processes, so it might make for an interesting new way to describe them.

      I like the idea of looking at people’s deliberative approaches to handling context, though, if we can turn them into something that we can describe properly.

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