Ambient information representation: managing increasing data (overseas travel grant)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: School of Computer Science


This is a travel grant application, to allow me to work alongside collaborators in South Africa for a period of nearly seven weeks.As our lives become increasing augmented by digital media, we are subject to an onslaught of data about us, our family, friends, and the world in general. There is easier access to our personal information (such as the state of an investment portfolio, or our bank account details), wider availability of general information (news sites, weather data, mobile blogs) or via increased use of social media (messenger on mobile devices, Facebook). This increased availability of data has gone hand-in-hand with an increased ability to access it anywhere through mobile and personal devices, making us permanently connected to and aware of this digital world. It is not only that mobile devices alter what we can and may want to present to people: the nature of users being mobile allows them to be anywhere, often engaged in other activities that are the primary focus of their attention: because of this, there is a new and increasing problem in nways that do not force themselves to the forefront of attention, and hence interventions may have to be of a different form to those we are currently designing for computer applications and websites. Investigating the most appropriate ways to present information to people who are not necessarily focussed on that information or on the device, to do it in an effective, unobtrusive manner, and to discover the underlying principles behind the perception and interpretation of this information is the aim of this work.The visit has two primary aims. The first is to actively work alongside Prof Gary Marsden, University of Cape Town, exploring new ideas in ambient information displays on both large and small (including mobile) devices. This visit is likely to develop new ideas in the visualization of ambient information, in the subtle presentation of that information, in the design of such systems, and in deepening our knowledge of how people notice, perceive and interpret such displays. The second is to encounter something new: to gain a greater understanding of the impact that technology can have on a different society to the one I am used to, working on an existing community project with both Prof Marsden and Prof Paula Kotze, University of South Africa.


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Beale R (2009) What does Mobile Mean? in International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction