Ways of the hands
This paper presents an ethnographic analysis of the nature and role of gestural action in the performance of a remote collaborative physical task. The analysis focuses on the use of a low-tech prototype gesturing system, which projects unmediated gestures to create a mixed reality ecology that promotes awareness in cooperative activity. CSCW researchers have drawn attention to the core problem of the distortion effect along with the subsequent fracturing of interaction between remote ecologies and have emphasized the need to support the ‘projectability’ of action to resolve this. The mixed ecology resolves the distortion effect by enabling a remote helper to project complex objectfocused gestures into the workspace of a local worker. These gestures promote awareness and thus enable helper and worker to coordinate their object-focused actions and interactions. Analysis of the socially organized use of the system derives key questions concerning the construction of mixed ecologies more generally, questions which may in turn be exploited to drive the design of future systems.