EAGER: Transforming Everyday Social Activity Coordination Through Mobile Outeraction-Support Systems

Project: Research project

Project Details


One of the primary uses of interpersonal communication channels such as texting, instant messaging and mobile phone conversations is to coordinate social activities, such as the planning of a future face-to-face meeting. The PI has coined the term 'outeraction' to refer to the communicative processes used by people to manage future interactions (interactions about future interactions). Yet while outeraction is often primarily conducted through mobile communication, existing mobile applications provide limited or ineffective outeraction-support. This results in people investing a lot of effort into coordinating everyday activities using unstructured serial communication between relevant parties, thereby wasting a significant amount of time. The PI argues that the potential for the ever increasing adoption of 'smart phones' to transform everyday social coordination through the systematic development of mobile outeraction-support systems is hampered, because to date outeraction-support system building has lacked a firm foundation. There are few conceptual frameworks, little empirical knowledge of user requirements and attitudes, and the efficacy of system designs has not been established. Thus, despite more than 20 years of CSCW research into coordination processes, researchers have yet to instantiate a mobile outeraction-support system that demonstrates a systematic understanding of the overall design space and provides outeraction-support by complementing existing group norms for coordination. The broad goal of this EAGER is to lay the foundation, through the instantiation of innovative software that embodies lessons learned from studies into everyday social coordination practices, for future work that will significantly expand our knowledge of how to design mobile outeraction-support systems. A particular focus will be to address people's desire for a shared view of the status of the activity planning process (e.g., knowing who can come to an event at a particular time). As part of the research plan, the PI will conduct a series of laboratory and field studies in which he will explore issues such as the importance of reachablity and locatablity of actors and resources to the social activity coordination and negotiation process, the extent to which negotiations / conversations regarding key components of a social activity (its 'what', 'where', 'when', 'why', and 'how') can be scaffolded or require open discourse between actors, and the types of group interaction management (floor) controls individuals often use to organize social activities (current event management software often assumes a single event organizer and provides floor controls that match that assumption, even though everyday experience suggests that social coordination is often far more democratic and ad hoc). Each of the studies will be associated with extensive software application development, which will exploit and build upon the hardware resources made available at the PI's institution through the NSF-sponsored SmartCampus mobile social computing system testbed.

Broader Impacts: Using computer technology to improve people's ability to engage in social activities of interest and coordinate with others is a simple way to increase our social connectivity. This is important, because individuals embedded in richly connected social environments are better able to handle personal setbacks such as financial failures and illness, and to provide social support for others. Therefore, developing mechanisms for the deployment of mobile outeraction-support systems, so that we are able to more effectively coordinate with one another, is important for society as a whole.

Effective start/end date6/15/105/31/12


  • National Science Foundation: $149,991.00


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