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The Equator 'City' Project: Mixing Media and Showing Seams

Matthew Chalmers*

University of Glasgow

As part of the Equator interdisciplinary research collaboration (, the City project has been exploring the combination of media such as mobile devices and collaborative virtual environments. We have built collaborative systems for cultural heritage and tourism, for mobile games, and for environmental science. These have generally involved online visitors to a museum or the city streets interacting with on-site visitors to the museum or the streets. Sometimes, the people online are also on-site. Overall, the project explores the interconnection and interweaving of activity in heterogeneous media which are usually treated in an isolated way. One of the issues that has arisen in this work is the limits, errors and boundaries that arise from the physical nature of each digital medium, for example the spatiotemporal variation of 802.11 cells and of GPS, and the discrete categories of user models. Usually these 'seams' are either assumed to be non-existent or treated as problems to solve, but we are exploring an alternative 'seamful' design approach where a system interface reveals and exploits selected aspects of the variability of infrastructure.

* Matthew Chalmers is Reader in Computer Science at the University of Glasgow and Academic Co-Director of the Kelvin Institute.

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