From CSCW to new workstations:
       the itsme project

         by Giorgio De Michelis and Marco Loregian
              ...
Outline


             The scenario
             CSCW research
             The metaphor of ‘stories and venues’
         ...
The scenario




May 2009       3
1984: during the Superbowl


 Apple launches the Macintosh
  A new personal computer with a
  graphical user interface bas...
The desktop metaphor


Based on similarity with physical
environment
Familiar tools and operations
Reflecting some specific ...
From the ‘90s on


All personal computers adopt the desktop metaphor
There is a dramatic growth of the size of internal an...
Problems of the desktop metaphor
                                                  well known since the ‘80s



Very depen...
Additional problems with the user interface
(Ravasio et al. 2004)

Concerning the interface: the desktop metaphor should h...
Three main problems with PCs


The personal computer has been unable to cope with the evolution
of the Cyberspace:
  infor...
Today


On-line computing is not yet ubiquitous
The PC lacks some capabilities, compared to the Web
Different users have d...
How to possibly solve these issues


Refer to better metaphors (also non-physical)
Get rid of hierarchies (when they are n...
CSCW research: basis for innovation




May 2009                          12
The early CSCW debates


CSCW community formed in the mid ‘80s
The early years of CSCW were extraordinary for the number o...
Winograd & Flores


Language-action perspective
  Inextricable binds linking together words and actions, conversations and...
Suchman (vs. Winograd)


Situated action perspective
  Very nature of human practice, its being situated in space and time...
Holt


Coordination theory with the idea of centers
  Projects as networks of inter-related centers
  Better having a pers...
Dourish


Concepts of place and of embodied interaction




  May 2009                                      17
Malone et al.


Semi-structured messages
  Even text objects like messages contain a structure where you can find
  some in...
Our idea, itsme vision:
Stories and Venues




May 2009                  19
A new workstation


 Helping to avoid the dispersion of information
 Embodying what we know about knowledge work
 Designed...
Avoiding the dispersion of information


 A new front-end where:
  Related objects, messages, urls, people contact details...
The lessons of ethnographic research on work


What human beings do is embedded in their relations with other
  people: ac...
The target users of itsme


High-value users, i.e., all those who have a great number of
interactions with other people, m...
A new metaphor: ‘stories and venues’


Our life interweaves a large number of different stories
Each story has its partici...
itsme: research




May 2009          25
itsme workstation scheme (vision)




  May 2009                          26
itsme: a workstation based on the metaphor of ‘stories
and venues’

At any moment, itsme presents the venue of the story i...
What’s a venue in the itsme UI?




  May 2009                        28
itsme interface layers




  May 2009               29
The look of a venue




  May 2009            30
Venue details




    Create new message   Highlight related items   Single channel view


  May 2009                     ...
The home, where venues are




  May 2009                   32
Limbo and transition panel




    Limbo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbo

  May 2009                                  ...
itsme: development




May 2009             34
itsme: components


A new workstation, with a radically new design


An open-source ‘back-end’ supporting stories (named G...
itsme architecture overview




  May 2009                    36
“Our” Linux


Two members of our team started Sabayon Linux       www.sabayon.org

  Binary GNU/Linux based on Gentoo
  Fo...
Front-end architecture (version 0.1)




  May 2009                             38
itsme: the back-end rationale


Files can be tagged, linked and have an XML-like structure
An email system supporting conv...
The itsme back-end: Guglielmo (more about rationale)


Open source project, available as a framework (with plugin
technolo...
Guglielmo (architecture, version 0.1 RC3)




  May 2009                                  41
Development milestones


A three - year process
Two years for the development of the system beta
  (spring 2008 - spring 2...
itsme: communication, involvement,
participation




May 2009                             43
itsme community website


Provide information about the project
Create a community discussing about the scenario in which ...
May 2009   45
May 2009   46
Concept evaluation http://www.itsme.it/evaluation   (since October 2008)




   May 2009                                  ...
itsme emulator (version 0.2.0, unreleased: public release scheduled for early June 2009)




    May 2009                 ...
itsme first interactive prototype (version 0.1 released internally Apr. 1st)




   May 2009                              ...
The help we need


Three active communities, supporting itsme from the very beginning:

   Research (CSCW, KM, ID)

   Ope...
Next steps in communication


Presentations in major Universities/conferences

Courses at major Universities and Education...
Conclusion


The desktop metaphor can no longer support effectively personal
computing
CSCW research provides the basis fo...
Any other question?




May 2009              53
Thank you for your attention!
giorgio.demichelis@itsme.it
marco.loregian@itsme.it


www.itsme.it
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itsme tutorial at CTS 2009

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In the last 30 years, the desktop metaphor has become the standard user interface for workstations, with
its pros (e.g., ease of learning) and cons (e.g., interaction constraints for skilled users, lack of context
awareness). In this tutorial we present itsme, an initiative to create the next-generation workstation –
especially designed for users who think that what they do holds value. Much of what we present derives
from CSCW research, while Interaction Design research shapes the project, as well as the involvement of
a wide and heterogeneous community of contributing people. The early design phases of the project led to
the definition of a new metaphor for personal computing, called ‘stories and venues’. The metaphor is
being adopted for the development of a radically new front-end for the Linux operating system.
The tutorial illustrates (through the itsme case) how CSCW research can drive the design and
development of an innovative project

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itsme tutorial at CTS 2009

  1. 1. From CSCW to new workstations: the itsme project by Giorgio De Michelis and Marco Loregian giorgio.demichelis@itsme.it marco.loregian@itsme.it © 2008 by Itsme S.r.l. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Itsme S.r.l.
  2. 2. Outline The scenario CSCW research The metaphor of ‘stories and venues’ The itsme approach Research Development Communication Conclusion, Q&A May 2009 2
  3. 3. The scenario May 2009 3
  4. 4. 1984: during the Superbowl Apple launches the Macintosh A new personal computer with a graphical user interface based on the desktop metaphor It delivers the ideas developed at Xerox PARC by Alan Kay (and colleagues) to a large public, at a reasonable price May 2009 4
  5. 5. The desktop metaphor Based on similarity with physical environment Familiar tools and operations Reflecting some specific work practices May 2009 5
  6. 6. From the ‘90s on All personal computers adopt the desktop metaphor There is a dramatic growth of the size of internal and external (fixed and removable) memories of personal computers The email becomes a universal medium The Web, invented by Tim Berners-Lee, evolves far beyond some of the PC limits (e.g., social computing) May 2009 6
  7. 7. Problems of the desktop metaphor well known since the ‘80s Very dependent on the culture (of the designers) (Olsen and Korfhage 1994) Implies a physical organization of elements that is tightly coupled to the logical organization, and vice versa Requires memorizing where a lot of stuff is (Ravasio et al. 2004) Depends on hierarchical file system OK for a limited number of items, if each item is meant to be available in a single place (and not in different contexts), as long as the user is able and willing to keep things sorted May 2009 7
  8. 8. Additional problems with the user interface (Ravasio et al. 2004) Concerning the interface: the desktop metaphor should help novice users but it does not, the screen plane is regularly misused and overcrowded, skilled users are irritated by similarities between the screen plane and the file system’s interface, and the user interface is too intrusive Concerning the underlying system: the separation between files, email and bookmarks is inconvenient, temporary material (short term notes) are not supported, resources cannot be linked even if they belong together, classification and gaining overview implies additional effort May 2009 8
  9. 9. Three main problems with PCs The personal computer has been unable to cope with the evolution of the Cyberspace: information overload (from keys to gigas; more and bigger objects) dispersion of information (in the file system, attachment folder, e-mail, browser) backwardness of the PC file system with respect to the Web (no tags, hyperlinks, and structure) May 2009 9
  10. 10. Today On-line computing is not yet ubiquitous The PC lacks some capabilities, compared to the Web Different users have different needs and desires Who has control? May 2009 10
  11. 11. How to possibly solve these issues Refer to better metaphors (also non-physical) Get rid of hierarchies (when they are not needed) Learn from the Web (e.g., folksonomies) Put the user, and not the workplace, at the center of the world There is a lot of (forgotten?) research literature from which we can learn how to do it May 2009 11
  12. 12. CSCW research: basis for innovation May 2009 12
  13. 13. The early CSCW debates CSCW community formed in the mid ‘80s The early years of CSCW were extraordinary for the number of new ideas that were presented to its conferences and for the passion animating the discussions raised by them May 2009 13
  14. 14. Winograd & Flores Language-action perspective Inextricable binds linking together words and actions, conversations and interactions The concepts of ‘conversation for action’ and of ‘commitment for future action’ has deeply influenced our research for over twenty years (e.g., De Cindio et al., 1986; De Michelis and Grasso, 1994) May 2009 14
  15. 15. Suchman (vs. Winograd) Situated action perspective Very nature of human practice, its being situated in space and time and within the experiences people share during their life Sharp dispute with Winograd and Flores (Suchman, 1987b, 1994; Winograd, 1995), but we think they offer complementary views (De Michelis, 1995) May 2009 15
  16. 16. Holt Coordination theory with the idea of centers Projects as networks of inter-related centers Better having a personal system than one shared by all the participants to a cooperative process May 2009 16
  17. 17. Dourish Concepts of place and of embodied interaction May 2009 17
  18. 18. Malone et al. Semi-structured messages Even text objects like messages contain a structure where you can find some information that can be used to trigger agents and/or commands Coordination Theory May 2009 18
  19. 19. Our idea, itsme vision: Stories and Venues May 2009 19
  20. 20. A new workstation Helping to avoid the dispersion of information Embodying what we know about knowledge work Designed for those people who “think what they do holds value” Based on a new metaphor: ‘stories and venues’ May 2009 20
  21. 21. Avoiding the dispersion of information A new front-end where: Related objects, messages, urls, people contact details, information sources, and tools appear together All objects are characterized by tags and links A ‘back-end’ enabling Linux to support it May 2009 21
  22. 22. The lessons of ethnographic research on work What human beings do is embedded in their relations with other people: actions and interactions Action and communication are strictly intertwined Any action is situated in space, time and, often, in the story within which it has sense The stories a person lives are not disjoint Stories are viewpoints on actions and interactions May 2009 22
  23. 23. The target users of itsme High-value users, i.e., all those who have a great number of interactions with other people, manage loads of information, live a great number of stories at the same time, but do not have adequate support to manage the complexity of their life Professionals Managers Intellectuals Knowledge workers May 2009 23
  24. 24. A new metaphor: ‘stories and venues’ Our life interweaves a large number of different stories Each story has its participants and objects Each story has its venue, where you can access its participants and objects Each person lives in several diverse interweaving venues The new metaphor is characterized by its being plural and its reflecting situatedness of human experience May 2009 24
  25. 25. itsme: research May 2009 25
  26. 26. itsme workstation scheme (vision) May 2009 26
  27. 27. itsme: a workstation based on the metaphor of ‘stories and venues’ At any moment, itsme presents the venue of the story in which its user is acting itsme users do not need to search for things: they have them at hand itsme creates, maintains and updates the venues of its user itsme venues can be corrected, modified and organized by its user itsme is not intrusive: its behavior is purely reactive May 2009 27
  28. 28. What’s a venue in the itsme UI? May 2009 28
  29. 29. itsme interface layers May 2009 29
  30. 30. The look of a venue May 2009 30
  31. 31. Venue details Create new message Highlight related items Single channel view May 2009 31
  32. 32. The home, where venues are May 2009 32
  33. 33. Limbo and transition panel Limbo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbo May 2009 33
  34. 34. itsme: development May 2009 34
  35. 35. itsme: components A new workstation, with a radically new design An open-source ‘back-end’ supporting stories (named Guglielmo) A front-end embodying the venue metaphor A service supporting the migration of Microsoft, Apple, and Linux users to itsme A consistent and reliable plan for further improvements of the system May 2009 35
  36. 36. itsme architecture overview May 2009 36
  37. 37. “Our” Linux Two members of our team started Sabayon Linux www.sabayon.org Binary GNU/Linux based on Gentoo Focused on user: simplicity, style, usability Entropy package management framework The way to easily distribute and maintain itsme itsme front-end as an alternative UI May 2009 37
  38. 38. Front-end architecture (version 0.1) May 2009 38
  39. 39. itsme: the back-end rationale Files can be tagged, linked and have an XML-like structure An email system supporting conversations, with bi-directional links between messages and attachments A browser locating its bookmarks in the file system Navigation systems within venues Multiple views of venues May 2009 39
  40. 40. The itsme back-end: Guglielmo (more about rationale) Open source project, available as a framework (with plugin technology) to implement any other metaphor But with design requirements initially extracted from itsme interaction manual Technologically decoupled from front-end implementation May 2009 40
  41. 41. Guglielmo (architecture, version 0.1 RC3) May 2009 41
  42. 42. Development milestones A three - year process Two years for the development of the system beta (spring 2008 - spring 2010) Two years for the development of the migration support system (autumn 2008 - autumn 2010) Creating a partnership for the development of a hardware prototype to hit the market May 2009 42
  43. 43. itsme: communication, involvement, participation May 2009 43
  44. 44. itsme community website Provide information about the project Create a community discussing about the scenario in which we are working Design with us and interactively evaluate what we are doing May 2009 44
  45. 45. May 2009 45
  46. 46. May 2009 46
  47. 47. Concept evaluation http://www.itsme.it/evaluation (since October 2008) May 2009 47
  48. 48. itsme emulator (version 0.2.0, unreleased: public release scheduled for early June 2009) May 2009 48
  49. 49. itsme first interactive prototype (version 0.1 released internally Apr. 1st) May 2009 49
  50. 50. The help we need Three active communities, supporting itsme from the very beginning: Research (CSCW, KM, ID) Open source software (Linux community) High-Tech industry (particularly in Europe) Good coverage of Itsme milestones by media and research community world- wide Support from public institutions in Italy and Europe May 2009 50
  51. 51. Next steps in communication Presentations in major Universities/conferences Courses at major Universities and Educational Institutions Collaboration with research groups on itsme’s issues and related topics May 2009 51
  52. 52. Conclusion The desktop metaphor can no longer support effectively personal computing CSCW research provides the basis for innovation itsme is implementing next-generation personal computing We are an open community, in which you are welcome May 2009 52
  53. 53. Any other question? May 2009 53
  54. 54. Thank you for your attention! giorgio.demichelis@itsme.it marco.loregian@itsme.it www.itsme.it

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