Enhancing the Epistemic Utility of Physical Spaces through Digital Information Interfaces

Kamran Sedig and Paul Parsons

Keywords

humaninformation interaction, information space, augmented physical space, digital information representations

Abstract

People perform many activities in physical spaces such as scientific museums, medical laboratories, and educational exhibits. Some activities performed in such spaces are for the purpose of making sense of the features of the space, learning about how elements within the space work, solving problems regarding relationships among items within the space, and so on. As all of these activities are fundamentally cognitive in nature, they may be labeled as cognitive activities (CAs). These activities involve and are related to knowledge of and/or knowing about physical spaces. Therefore, the degree to which physical spaces support such activities may be referred to as their epistemic utility. The epistemic utility of physical spaces has historically been limited due to the limited affordances that such spaces offer. Recent technological advances, however, provide opportunities for enhancing the epistemic utility of physical information spaces. Cognitive activity support tools (CASTs) are one such type of technology that can potentially enhance the epistemic utility of physical information spaces. The enhancement is in potential form as it depends upon the effective and proper design of CASTs. This paper draws upon research from the cognitive, information, and computer sciences to inform and motivate the conceptualization of CAST-augmented physical information spaces that have enhanced epistemic utility for performing CAs.

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