Fail Better: Lessons Learned from a Formative Evaluation of Social Object Labels

This paper presents Social Object Labels as an in-gallery commenting platform and reports on a formative evaluation of the concept focusing on visitors’ awareness and mental models of the developed prototype. Findings confirm many design assumptions underlying the evaluated prototype but also flag up serious problems resulting in low engagement levels. They suggest a need to de-emphasise optical markers in the user interface, to provide visitors with a clear idea about the potential rewards of engagement and to align the interaction design with users’ expectations shaped by the wider interaction environment. The paper concludes with an tentative outlook on future design directions.

Keywords: Social Object Labels; User Generated Content; Pervasive Displays; Ubiquitous Annotation; Mobile Interaction.

Winter, M., Gorman, M.J., Brunswick, I., Browne, D., Williams, D. and Kidney, F. (2015). Fail Better: Lessons Learned from a Formative Evaluation of Social Object Labels. 8th International Workshop on Personalized Access to Cultural Heritage, PATCH @ IUI 2015, March 29–April 1, 2015, Atlanta, USA.


Ad-hoc Registration and Configuration of Social Object Labels

This poster and demo presents Social Object Labels (SOLs) as a ubiquitous annotation platform and highlights the specific aspect of ad-hoc registration and configuration. It argues that this quality reduces costs and risks for organisations trialling and adopting the system, as it allows deployment in the target environment without custom development, workflow changes or technical assistance. The paper discusses functionality related to ad-hoc deployment and registration and their implementation in a current SOL prototype.

Keywords — Ubiquitous annotation; Pervasive displays; Digital signage.

Winter, M. (2014). Ad-hoc Registration and Configuration of Social Object Labels. Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Pervasive Displays (PerDis 2014), Jun. 3-4, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Constructing a public around social object labels

In their report on the Imperial War Museum’s Social Interpretation project, Giannachi and Tolmie (2012) suggest that QR codes need suitable framing that gives visitors a clear reason why to scan the code and why to share their thoughts. They point out that this requires a comprehensive organisational effort to promote an active and social visitor experience.

A theoretical grounding for this idea is provided by DiSalvo, Maki and Martin (2007), who offer the concept of “constructed public” based on John Dewey’s (1927) idea that a public does not exist a priory but is brought together around a meaningful social condition.

Accordingly, designers should acknowledge the limited scope of any public and carefully consider who the public is and how it came together. This move away from “the public” as a general population towards “a public” as a selective subset of that population primed for engagement has important implications for the design and evaluation of interactive public systems.

In a design context, it presumes awareness of the system’s existence and interest in, or even agreement with, its purpose and aims, shifting part of the responsibility for these aspects from system design to the wider user experience design.

In an evaluation context, it takes into account whether and how a public was created around the system as an important factor in its adoption, going beyond classic aspects such as perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use (Davis, 1989) and perceived social norms (Venkatesh and Davis, 2000) as the main factors for technology acceptance.

How can we construct a public around social object labels?

Davis, F.D. (1989). Perceived Usefulness, Perceived Ease of Use, and User Acceptance of Information Technology. MIS Quarterly, 13(3), pp. 319-339.

Dewey, J. (1927). The public and its problems: An essay in political inquiry. Penn State Press, 2012.

Disalvo, C. and Ave, S. H. (2007). MapMover : A Case Study of Design-Oriented Research into Collective Expression and Constructed Publics. In Proc. CHI 2007, pp. 1249–1252.

Giannachi, G. and Tolmie, P. (2012). Info-Objects: Embedding objects with audience interpretation. Project report. Digital R&D Fund for the Arts. 

Venkatesh, V. and Davis, F.D. (2000). A Theoretical Extension of the Technology Acceptance Model: Four Longitudinal Field Studies. Management Science, 45(2), pp. 186-204.

BLE vs. NFC Infographic

Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) has repeatedly been touted an NFC killer in the ongoing debate about suitable technologies for physical mobile interaction (PMI). Here’s an infographic comparing BLE and NFC.


Star ratings in the physical world

5-star graffiti stencil source

There clearly is appetite to transfer popular social concepts from the Web to the physical world:
Free 5-Star Graffiti
stencils for urban annotation. Source 

prototype v.2 

Electronic alternative developed by ubinote. Prototype v.2 with e-ink screen and Wifi connection.
Connect via QR code, NFC or Bluetooth LE. Get in touch if you’d like to run a trial.

Social Object Labels

This position paper introduces and discusses Social Object Labels, small pervasive displays for ubiquitous social object annotation. Taking an HCI perspective, it relates user experience problems with ubiquitous annotation described in the literature to a lack of dynamic information available to users and argues that small pervasive displays can address these problems by providing dynamic situated information that supports users before, during and after interaction. The paper describes three potential application domains for ubiquitous social object annotation and presents related scenarios to illustrate possible uses and interactions in concrete terms. It defines the design space for Social Object Labels with reference to related display concepts such as ambient displays and interactive public displays, and structures the defined space by discussing salient design aspects. The paper concludes with a summary and outlook on future research.

Keywords— HCI; Pervasive Displays; Ambient Displays; Interactive Public Displays; Ubiquitous Annotation; Pervasive Sociality; Social Object Labels; User Generated Content

Winter, M. (2014). Social Object Labels: Supporting Social Object Annotation with Small Pervasive Displays. Proceedings of the 2014 IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (PerCom 2014), Mar. 24-28, Budapest, Hungary, pp. 489-494.

Bluetooth LE

Bluetooth LE (BLE) seems to be all the rage right now with many proclaiming it an NFC killer and the future of both, indoor positioning and pervasive service interaction. Key in this context are BLE “beacons” that broadcast information about an object or place. Mobile devices pick up this information and – via signal strength – can estimate how close they are to a beacon. By triangulating closeness to a few beacons, devices can then calculate their position in space. Furthermore closeness information can be used in the context of proxemic interaction [1], where devices display different information and interaction options depending on how close you are to a point of interest.

[1] Check out the Jan-Feb 2011 issue of Interactions Proxemic Interactions: The New Ubicomp?

Some BLE beacons available today:

estimote estimote2




ap ap2