Hybrid ecologies: understanding cooperative interaction in emerging physical-digital environments


We consider the emergence of hybrid ecologies, which marry mixed reality environments and ubiquitous computing environments together to bridge the physical-digital divide. Hybrid ecologies are new class of digital ecology that merge multiple environments, physical and digital, together. Collaboration in these emerging environments is characterized by ‘fragmented interaction’ in that it is mediated by interaction mechanisms that are differentially distributed. Unpacking the collaborative nature of fragmented interaction requires that we uncover the ordinary interactional competences that users exploit to make differentially distributed mechanisms of interaction work and the distributed practices that articulate ‘seamful’ representations and provide for awareness and coordination.

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The research on which this article is based was funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Equator Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration (, and the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s e-Social Science Research Node DReSS (

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Correspondence to Andy Crabtree.

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Crabtree, A., Rodden, T. Hybrid ecologies: understanding cooperative interaction in emerging physical-digital environments. Pers Ubiquit Comput 12, 481–493 (2008).

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  • Cooperative interaction
  • Ethnography
  • Ecology
  • Mixed reality environments
  • Ubiquitous computing environments
  • Hybrid ecologies