Reflection #8 – [11/14] – Viral Pasad

Robertson, Toni, and Ina Wagner. “CSCW and the Internet of Things.” ECSCW 2015: Proceedings of the 14th European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, 19-23 September 2015, Oslo, Norway. Springer, Cham, 2015.

The authors look at the Internet of Things from the lens of Computer-Supported Co-operative Work (CSCW). The authors urge us to analyze existing and upcoming illustrations of Internet of Things (IoT) applications using the key concepts of CSCW, namely coordination mechanisms, differences across contexts and common information spaces, and awareness. They provide a great introduction on literature at the interaction of IoT and CSCW and a few examples of implications of applying the metaphor of cooperation to objects and spaces related to IoT.

They cite various examples to explain how the ‘advent’ of Internet of Things could encourage groups, organizations, communities, and networks. They also explain how IoT Applications could help businesses, and as a matter of fact, every step of the Supply Chain. They ask questions like, In an IoT Application in which smart objects socialize to find information (interaction – as explained by Steve Whittaker), how would human users: 
– understand these actions,
– configure or work with these protocols that these smart objects follow.  

Another thing that they inspire thought about is how would smart objects, understand and respond to local contexts, local practices and state changes, basically highlighting the awareness of these smart devices as well.

This paper does not directly relate to my project, but I love the ideas shared in this work, especially that of applying the CSCW Lens to something unrelated.

Lastly, I would like to attempt trying to place this paper in the broader scheme of things. Firstly, this article seems like and probably is, an attempt to bring the communities of IoT and CSCW closer. Furthermore, the authors are great researchers (with h-indices > 30) and clearly well read on Human Computer Interaction and CSCW literature. This makes me, a student and budding researcher in the field of Human Computer Interaction, kind of skeptical about this marriage between IoT and CSCW instead of HCI. I do agree that HCI with all three paradigms is a difficult beast to tame, so this is not a criticism of their work, but more of a curious thought sparked after reading this article. Having said that, I would also like to quote this articulation which probably explains their motivations well.