Activity-Centric Support for Ad Hoc Knowledge Work A Case Study of co-Activity Manager

Steven Houben, Jakob Bardram, Jo Vermeulen, Kris Luyten, and Karin Coninx

In Proceedings of CHI 2013: the International Joint Conference on Ambient Intelligence, Paris, France, April 27 - May 2, 2013, pp. 2263-2272.
[~20% acceptance; 1963 submissions]


Modern knowledge work consists of both individual and highly collaborative activities that are typically composed of a number of configuration, coordination and articulation processes. The desktop interface today, however, provides very little support for these processes and rather forces knowledge workers to adapt to the technology. We introduce co-Activity Manager, an activity-centric desktop system that (i) provides tools for ad hoc dynamic configuration of a desktop working context, (ii) supports both explicit and implicit articulation of ongoing work through a build-in collaboration manager and (iii) provides means to coordinate and share working context with other users and devices. In this paper, we discuss the activity theory informed design of co-Activity Manager and report of a 14 day field deployment in a multi disciplinary software development team. The study showed that the activity-centric workspace supports different individual and collaboration work configuration practices and that activity-centric collaboration is a two-phase process consisting of an activity sharing and per-activity coordination phase.