Integrating Awareness in Cooperative Applications through the Reaction-Diffusion Metaphor
The paper discusses the notion of awarenessfrom the point of view of the design of asupportive technology. This perspectiverequires a deeper understanding of the ways andmeans people adopt to deal with awarenessinformation as well as considering theintegration of awareness tools with toolssupporting other forms of coordination. First,we suggest to consider two types of awareness:by-product awareness that is generated in thecourse of the activities people must do inorder to accomplish their cooperative tasks;and add-on awareness that is the outcome of anadditional activity, which is a neat cost forthe cooperating actors in relation to what theymust do and is discretional in that it dependson actors' evaluation of the contingentsituation. Secondly, we propose areaction-diffusion metaphor to describe theawareness phenomenology and to take intoaccount the two above-mentioned types ofawareness integration. The model ofawareness derived from the metaphor makesvisible and accessible by different types ofusers a set of elemental primitives whoseflexible composition allows them to constructthe awareness mechanisms they dynamically need. These primitives are incorporated in a softwaremodule that can be used in combination withcoordinative applications for sake of promotingawareness information. The main architectureof the module is presented together with itsinteroperability with the target application;moreover, a simple example illustrates how theincorporated primitives can be used to buildawareness mechanisms.