or shared folders can be included in the activity representation.
Within a distributed setting where information is
spread across several devices, activity-centered computing proved to provide additional advantages to
users. A computational unit representing an activity
across devices and locations offers a more consistent
mental model to the user. Information is automatically distributed across devices within the work context it relates to, removing the overhead of having to
transfer resources manually. Devices can become
activity visualizers that are part of a larger activity
ecology rather than independent computing entities.
Activities can be replicated across all devices to support a synchronized view, but additionally activity
resources can also be divided among several devices,
allowing for cross-device activity representations.
Different roles can be allocated to devices. For example, in ActivityDesk the desk itself becomes a master
activity manager that manages the rendering of
activities and resources on “slave” devices.
Our work with ABC has, however, also left us with a
range of open questions, which we would like to
address — potentially in collaboration with
researchers working in the field of AI. These issues are
in particular concerned with the modeling of human
activity and how activities are managed and handled
in daily use.
Ideally, computational activities reflect user intent.
For example, in a hospital setting, an activity-centered
electronic medical record would provide support for
patient-related activities, like a “prescribe medicine
for patient Hansen” activity. Such an activity would
help a physician to locate and bring up relevant information on a public display or on a mobile tablet computer. This, however, requires the system to know
what is relevant in this activity, and — as argued in
the introduction — in order to prevent possible
annoyances due to incorrect presumptions of human
intention, intelligibility needs to be supported.
During our close collaboration with users (
including hospital clinicians), it is evident that activity-
Figure 5. The ActivityDesk System.
ActivityDesk (Houben and Bardram 2013) is an activity-based information space for knowledge workers that aggregates different devices
and their containing resources into one interactive desktop space.