Title page for ETD etd-05102007-120921

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Otitoju, Oluwabukumni Sharon
URN etd-05102007-120921
Title Man in the Mirror: A Mythology-Driven Exploration of Multiple User-Interpretations in a Multimedia Space
Degree Master of Science
Department Computer Science
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Harrison, Steven R. Committee Chair
Cao, Yong Committee Member
Webster, Dane Committee Member
  • embodied interaction
  • multimedia
  • human-computer interaction
  • ubiquitous computing
  • interpretation
  • Ambiguity
  • user study
  • art installation
  • museum
  • mythology
Date of Defense 2007-04-19
Availability unrestricted
Artists, designers and writers have long employed ambiguity as a tool in compelling their audience to deduce a personal meaning to their work. As computing becomes less of a strictly workspace, task-oriented phenomenon and more of a ubiquitous, life-space one, it is increasingly important to consider the intelligence of the user in the design of everyday computer-based things. Support of multiple user interpretation through ambiguity is an element whose appropriate inclusion in system design can compel the user to deduce a personal interpretation of the system’s meaning and utility.

The work in this paper explores the process by which users may come to deduce a meaning to an ambiguous work, both as individuals and collaboratively. Incorporating elements of ambiguity, we created SenSpace, an immersive physical environment that embeds the Greek myth of Narcissus within itself. The subsequent user study provided insight on the process by which naïve visitors may come to deduce their meanings of a work, both individually and collaboratively. Our results showed that there exists a trade-off between a user’s level of interaction and depth of the interpretation of the multimedia environment. We also show how ambiguity can be used as a design method, by incorporating observed user expectations into the system. This paper uses experimental evidence to advocate the design of systems that support not only the system goal the designer has in mind, but also the multiple perspectives and meanings that the user often brings to the system.

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