Smart labs and social practice: social tools for pervasive laboratory workspaces: a position paper

Taylor, Josie; Minocha, Shailey; McAndrew, Patrick; Brasher, Andrew and Joinson, Adam (2006). Smart labs and social practice: social tools for pervasive laboratory workspaces: a position paper. In: Designing for e-Science: Interrogating New Scientific Practice for Usability, in the Lab and Beyond, 26-27 Jan 2006, e-Science Institute, Edinburgh, UK.



The emergence of pervasive and ubiquitous computing stimulates a view of future work environments where sharing of information, data and knowledge is easy and commonplace, particularly in highly interactive settings. Much of the work in this area focuses on tool development to support activities such as data collection, data recording and sharing, and so on. We are interested in this kind of technical development, which is both challenging and essential for science communities. But we are also interested in a broader interpretation of knowledge sharing and the human/social side of tools we develop to support this. We are keen to know more about how groups of different kinds of scientists can make their work understandable and shareable with each other in a multidisciplinary setting. This is a complex task because boundaries and barriers can emerge between disciplines engendered by differences in discourses and practices, which may not easily translate into other discipline areas. In the worst case, there may be some hostility between disciplines, or at least doubt and scepticism. Nevertheless, sharing approaches to research, research expertise, data and methods across disciplines can be a very fruitful exercise, and encouragement to engage in this activity is particularly pertinent in the digital era. Issues of privacy and security are also key aspects – knowing when and how to release data or information to other groups is crucial to providing a safe environment for people to work, and there are several sensitivities to be explored here.

In this paper we describe an evolving situation that captures many of these issues, which we aim to track longitudinally.

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