Ways of the Hands

  • David Kirk
  • Andy Crabtree
  • Tom Rodden


This paper presents an ethnographic analysis of the nature and role of gestural action in the performance of a remote collaborative physical task. The analysis focuses on the use of a low-tech prototype gesturing system, which projects unmediated gestures to create a mixed reality ecology that promotes awareness in cooperative activity. CSCW researchers have drawn attention to the core problem of the distortion effect along with the subsequent fracturing of interaction between remote ecologies and have emphasized the need to support the ‘projectability’ of action to resolve this. The mixed ecology resolves the distortion effect by enabling a remote helper to project complex objectfocused gestures into the workspace of a local worker. These gestures promote awareness and thus enable helper and worker to coordinate their object-focused actions and interactions. Analysis of the socially organized use of the system derives key questions concerning the construction of mixed ecologies more generally, questions which may in turn be exploited to drive the design of future systems.


Task Space Distortion Effect Mutual Awareness Partici Pant Remote Collaboration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bekker, M., Olson, J. and Olson, G. (1995) “Analysis of gestures in face-to-face design teams”, Proceedings of DIS ’95, p. 157–166, Michigan: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bly, S.A. and Minneman, S.L. (1990) “Commune: a shared drawing surface”, Proceedings of Office Information Systems 1990, p. 184–192, Cambridge, Massachusetts: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  3. Crabtree, A., Rodden, T. and Mariani, J. (2004) “Collaborating around collections”, Proceedings of the CSCW ’04, pp. 396–405, Chicago: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  4. Dourish, P. Adler, A., Bellotti, V. and Henderson, A. (1996) “Your place or mine?”, Computer Supported Cooperative work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing, vol. 5(1), p. 33–62.Google Scholar
  5. Fussell, S. et al. (2004) “Gestures over video streams to support remote collaboration on physical tasks, Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 19(4), pp. 273–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gutwin, C. and Penner, R. (2002) “Visual information and collaboration”, Proceedings of CSCW ’02, p. 49–57, New Orleans: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  7. Heath, C. and Luff, P. (1991) “Disembodied conduct: communication through video in multimedia office environment”, Proceedings of CHI ’91, p. 99–103, New Orleans: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  8. Heath, C. and Luff, P. (1992) “Media space and communicative asymmetries”, Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 7, p. 315–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hindmarsh, J., Fraser, M., Heath, C., Benford, S. and Greenhalgh, C. (2000) “Object-focused interaction in collaborative virtual environments”, ACM ToCHI, vol. 7(4), p. 477–509.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hollan, J., Hutchins, E. and Kirsh, D. (2000) “Distributed cognition: toward a new foundation for human-computer interaction research”, ACM ToCHI, vol. 7(2), p. 174–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hughes, J. et al. (1994) “Perspectives on the social organization of work”, Field Studies and CSCW (COMIC Deliverable 2.2), p. 129–160, Lancaster University.Google Scholar
  12. Ishii, H. and Kobayashi, M. (1992) “Clearboard”, Proceedings of CHI ’92, p. 525–535, Monterey: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  13. Kendon, A. (1996) “An agenda for gesture studies”, Semiotic Review of Books, vol. 7(3), p. 8–12.Google Scholar
  14. Kirk, D.S. (2004) “Performance effects of using a mixed reality surface for collaborative physical tasks”, Equator Technical Report, University of Nottingham.Google Scholar
  15. Kirk, D.S. and Stanton-Fraser, D. (2005) “The effects of remote gesturing on distance instruction”, to appear in Proceedings of CSCL 2005, May 30–June 4, Taipei: ISLS.Google Scholar
  16. Koleva, B., Benford, S. and Greenhalgh, C. (1999) “The properties of mixed reality boundaries”, Proceedings of ECSCW ’99, p. 119–137, Copenhagen: Kluwer Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  17. Kuzuoka, H. et al. (1999) “Agora: a remote collaboration system that enables mutual monitoring”, Proceedings of CHI ’99, p. 190–191, Pittsburg: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  18. Kuzouka, H., Kosaka, J., Yamazaki, K., Suga, S., Yamazaki, A., Luff, P. and Heath, C. (2004) “Mediating dual ecologies”, Proceedings of CSCW ’04, p. 477–486, Chicago: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  19. Luff, P. et al. (2003) “Fractured ecologies”, Human-Computer Interaction, vol. 18(1), p. 51–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Ou, J. et al. (2003) “Gestural communication over video stream: supporting multimodal interaction”, Proceedings of ICMI ’03, p. 242–249, Vancouver: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  21. Sacks, H., Schegloff, E., and Jefferson, G. (1974) “A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking in conversation”, Language, vol. 50, p. 696–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Schmidt, K. and Bannon, L. (1992) “Taking CSCW seriously: supporting articulation work”, Computer Supported Cooperative Work: An International Journal, vol. 1(1), pp. 7–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Schmidt, K. (2002) “The problem with ‘awareness’”, Computer Supported Cooperative work: The Journal of Collaborative Computing, vol. 11(3), p. 285–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Suchman, L. (1987) Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Suchman, L. (2000) “Embodied practices of engineering work”, Mind, Culture & Activity, vol. 7(1), p. 4–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sudnow, D. (1978) Ways of the Hand: The Organization of Improvised Conduct, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Tang, J.C. and Minneman, S.L. (1990) “VideoDraw:”, Proceedings of CHI ’90, p. 313–320, Seattle: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  28. Tang, J.C. and Minneman, S.L. (1991) “VideoWhiteboard: video shadows to support remote collaboration”, Proceedings of CHI’ 91, p. 315–322, New Orleans: ACM Press.Google Scholar
  29. Tang, A. et al. (2004) “Embodiments and VideoArms in mixed presence groupware”, Technical Report 2004-741-06, Department of Computer Science, University of Calgary.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Kirk
    • 1
  • Andy Crabtree
    • 1
  • Tom Rodden
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Computer Science & ITUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations