In this project, we explored if we could build a low-cost collaborative environment for social network analysis. Such an environment depends not only on the displays and the available input, but also on the design of the visualization itself. To create a low-cost collaborative environment we used multiple off-the-shelf projectors that can be simply pointed at a blank wall to create a large display. We retrofitted NodeTrix, a single-user social network visualization tool to accept multiple mouse-pointers so that four participants could work in parallel on a task. We called the new tool CoCoNutrix for Co-located Collaborative NodeTrix.
However, it was not clear to what extent such a simple approach would supports collaborative information analysis. We, therefore, ran a user study in three different organizations. The results showed that the low-cost setup was very effective but that the visualization already had many features that made it a good candidate for collaborative work. The paper below points at more considerations for retrofitting other single-user visualization tools for collaborative work.
This is a screen that participants started from. It shows the social network of a university department. Nodes are people, links connecting them indicate a co-publication.
This is a result screen. Participants were given the task to create groups of people who belong together (based on self-established criteria).
This is how people were using the system in collaboration: In Calgary...
and in Sydney.
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