Mediating Group Dynamics through Tabletop Interface Design

Meredith Ringel Morris, Anne Marie Piper, Anthony Cassanego, Anqi Huang, Andreas Paepcke, A., Terry Winograd
IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 2006
We encounter tables in a variety of situations in our everyday lives—at work, school, and home as well as in restaurants, libraries, and other public venues. The ubiquity of tables results from the utility of their affordances. Tables’ horizontal surfaces permit the placement of objects, and their large surface area affords the spreading, piling, and organization of these items. Chairs afford sitting and relaxing, making work around tables leisurely and comfortable. Perhaps most importantly, tables allow face-to-face collaboration among a small group of colocated individuals. One of the primary reasons people perform tasks at tables is because of the social affordances they provide. Consequently, when designing next-generation interactive table technology, this technology’s impact on group dynamics is a key issue. The effect of group dynamics on the use of the technology likewise has important bearing on interactive table design.