University of Sussex
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Supporting public availability and accessibility with Elvin: experiences and reflections.

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 14:08 authored by Geraldine Ann Fitzpatrick, Simon M. Kaplan, Tim Mansfield, David Arnold, Bill Segall
We provide a retrospective account of how a generic event notification service called Elvin and a suite of simple client applications: CoffeeBiff, Tickertape and Tickerchat, came to be used within our organisation to support awareness and interaction. After overviewing Elvin and its clients, we outline various experiences from data collated across two studies where Elvin and its clients have been used to augment the workaday world to support interaction, to make digital actions visible, to make physical actions available beyond the location of action, and to support content and socially based information filtering. We suggest there are both functional and technical reasons for why Elvin works for enabling awareness and interaction. Functionally, it provides a way to produce, gather and redistribute information from everyday activities (via Elvin) and to give that information a perceptible form (via the various clients) that can be publicly available and accessible as a resource for awareness. The integration of lightweight chat facilities with these information sources enables awareness to easily flow into interaction, starting to re-connect bodies to actions, and starting to approximate the easy flow of interaction that happens when we are co-located. Technically, the conceptual simplicity of the Elvin notification, the wide availability of its APIs, and the generic functionality of its clients, especially Tickertape, have made the use of the service appealing to developers and users for a wide range of uses.


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  • Published


Computer Supported Cooperative Work







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Department affiliated with

  • Informatics Publications


Publisher's version available at official url. Originality: describes a novel event notification infrastructure, presents results from a qualitative study of how client interfaces were used to support communication and awareness, and reflects on why the system worked in the way it did; Rigour: combines detailed technical discussion with in-depth field study data, with analysis integrates social and technical concerns; Significance: a new lightweight approach to the support of awareness and communication. Impact: Invited contribution for special issue on awareness, highlighting the key contribution in this area; referenced in diverse literatures beyond CSCW where originally published such as software engineering, middleware, knowledge management; Total citations in Google Scholar for this paper and its preceding conference paper are 212.

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