Invited Talk: Peter Tolmie

We’re pleased to announce that Peter has accepted our invitation to give a talk at the workshop. See below for title and abstract, as well as his bio.

The Practical Organisation of Mobile Group Interaction

Abstract. For over forty years now there have been ethnomethodological studies of interaction being conducted in various kinds of work and leisure environments for the purposes of informing systems design. Many of the most notable earlier examples of these studies were conducted in the field of computer-supported cooperative work. A number of the early studies in this canon – principally work practice studies of air traffic control and bank work at Lancaster University – began to identify some gross organisational problems in the practice of group work that were fruitful as a frame for studies geared into design. These included matters such as ‘plans and procedures’, ‘distributed coordination’, and ‘awareness’ and built upon Garfinkel’s original discussions of the rational or reason-able characteristics of social organisation such as ‘accountability’, ‘a shared taken for granted world’ (which was borrowed in turn from phenomenology) and the inevitably situated and practical character of human action. It is worth revisiting these matters as organisational problems to be addressed in ordinary everyday practical action when engaged in mobile group interaction. what is the impact upon their character when interactions across groups can be more widely distributed and conducted when on the move as a consequence of using mobile technologies? During this talk I will revisit these key organisational concerns and discuss them by drawing upon a variety of examples from my own studies, conducted since I was first employed as an ethnographer at Lancaster in the late nineties. In particular I shall be exploring facets of how interaction across groups can be both facilitated and breached through the use of mobile technologies, leading to a range of issues such as the blurring of cohorts and the consequences of new modalities of awareness and availability of other people’s actions.

Bio. Dr Peter Tolmie is a Senior Research Fellow in the Mixed Reality Laboratory at the University of Nottingham. He was originally a member of the Centre for CSCW at Lancaster University, doing studies of middle management in retail finance. In 2000 he was recruited by Xerox Research Centre Europe and worked at XRCE’s Cambridge laboratory until its closure in 2002. During this time he conducted numerous studies of small businesses and home environments.  In 2002 he moved to XRCE’s sister laboratory at Grenoble in France and became Area Manager of XRCE’s Work Practice Technology group at the beginning of 2005. Here his work focused on a range of topics including consultancy practice and remote service assistance.  Since starting work with the MRL in May 2006 his studies have covered a range of different topics: the use of home networks and evolving infrastructures; pervasive gaming; a longitudinal study of inhabitants occupying an energy efficient home; the social context of musical performance and its consumption; the work of personal assistants; family rural activities; museum visiting practices; and the general conduct of domestic life. He has also worked on several projects as an independent consultant, most notably a wide-ranging study of TV and film production in collaboration with the London-based company Cleverplugs, looking to inform the development of new kinds of workflow technology across the film and television industries; a study of the work of bid managers to inform new ways of supporting distributed knowledge-intensive work; and examining the communication and decision-making practices amongst health professionals treating patients with breast cancer.

He has been published widely in both journals and conferences in the domains of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Ubiquitous Computing and Human-Computer Interaction, is the author of a book on intimacy in domestic environments, the joint author of a book on ethnographic work in design, and the joint editor of two recently published volumes of articles relating to ethnomethodological studies of work and of play. He is also an active reviewer for a number of the major computing conferences and journals and regularly serves as an associate and sub-committee chair.

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