Progressing on from my previous post regarding the subjective nature of locations in a National Park (i.e. that rangers view places differently from each other and that their views may also change over time), I have written something in the conclusion of my OZCHI paper that I think hits the nail on the head. Location is not enough – location is just a coordinate. The question is, how can you infer the context that exists between a location and the person? Why is that person in a place and what are they hoping to do there?

Here’s the part from the paper. If you’d like the references mentioned just let me know:

Geovisualisation is an important tool that assists in the analysis and discovery of information amongst the plethora of location-based data we now have ready access to. The act of visualising data is repaid exponentially in terms of cognitive savings (Larkin & Simon, 1987), and can lead to the formation of deeper and better quality understanding about a problem domain (Lowe and Bouchiex, 2008).

However, the subjective, social nature of knowledge does highlight the importance of people in the ecology of sense-making and knowledge discovery – it is important not only to understand how people will interact with geo-visualisation interfaces, but also how they go about generating and absorbing knowledge from their existing social structures; that is, how they share and communicate with each other.

Any intelligent interface designed to meet the needs of the current research project should not only be concerned with the display of location-based data, but it should also be aware of the social and environmental contexts in which it is being used.

Subsequently, it is not enough that data being displayed be tagged with a location in the form of GPS coordinates. From a machine and computational perspective this is the necessary first step towards providing information about a place, but from a human-interaction perspective the display and dissemination of this data needs additional context. Simply: a person may be in the same location for entirely different purposes, and an intelligent location-based service needs to be aware of this purpose.

Geovisualisations are an important tool for the sense and decision-making processes, but it is the role of the holistic design of a system (that includes geovisualisation) to infer a better quality understanding of the goals and motivations of a user based on their location. It is hoped that further research in this project will provide insights into how location can be augmented with this further context, and how geovisualisation can assist users to explore this.

I think I’ve latched on to a new take on the project, but I need to do more reading into ubicomp and context-awareness to get a better understanding of what work has already been done in this space.

Any suggestions? Thoughts? Thanks!


2 Responses to Location is not enough

  1. Daniel Szuc says:

    Context and understanding of need at that moment
    is the sweet spot. Given the opportunity to speak
    with and get a deeper understanding of the user
    in that context helps too :)

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks Dan, I agree. It will be interesting to see the broad categories of “place” that individual people have, but it’ll also be interesting to see how a single spot in a park is viewed by different people.

    Excited to get stuck into some of the hands on field work!

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