Is the writing on the wall for tabletops?

Pantidi, Nadia; Rogers, Yvonne and Robinson, Hugh (2009). Is the writing on the wall for tabletops? In: Proceedings of Interact 2009: 12th IFIP TC 13 International Conference, 24-28 Aug 2009, Uppsala, Sweden, pp. 125–137.



We describe an ethnographic study that explores how low tech and new tech surfaces support participation and collaboration during a workshop breakout session. The low tech surfaces were post-it notes and large sheets of paper. The new tech surfaces were writeable walls and a multi-touch tabletop. Four groups used the different surfaces during three phases: i) brief presentation of position papers and discussion of themes, ii) the creation of a group presentation and iii) a report back session. Participation and collaboration varied depending on the physical, technological and social factors at play when using the different surfaces. We discuss why this is the case, noting how new shareable surfaces may need to be constrained to invite participation in ways that are simply taken for granted because of their familiarity when using low tech materials.

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