Publication: Traces: Visualizations of Interaction

Groupware that provides a distributed shared workspace is becoming more and more common. However, it is often difficult in these systems to maintain awareness of other people's actions and activities. One reason for this difficulty is that people's representations in groupware are neither as noticeable nor as expressive as their bodies in the real world. The hypothesis in this research is that making people's actions easier to see will improve awareness, communication, and coordination in collaborative tasks. I propose as the solution to the problem the idea of traces– visualizations of people's interaction with the shared workspace. Traces differ from previous interaction history systems in that they are oriented around people and their actions, rather than on artifacts and the changes made to them. This paper describes the idea of traces, and then describes two applications of the idea: first, telepointer trails that made gestures persistent, and second, location tracks that record people's paths as they move and work in the shared workspace. Initial user feedback suggests that both techniques are valuable for certain kinds of collaborative situations.




Carl Gutwin
University of Saskatchewan


Gutwin, C. 1999. Traces: Visualizations of Interaction., Technical Report HCI-TR-99-01, Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan.


@techreport {traces-tr,
author= {Carl Gutwin},
title= {Traces: Visualizations of Interaction},
year= {1999},
number= {HCI-TR-99-01},
school= {Department of Computer Science, University of Saskatchewan}