Towards Information and Communication Activity Navigations


Hideaki Takeda

National Institute of Informatics, Japan


1. From ICT to ICA

Computers and networks enrich and facilitate our life so that they now become indispensable for our life. They sometimes enhance our traditional daily activities with their increasing computing and networking power like documenting and communicating with other people, and sometime offer new ways for our activities with new technologies like WWW.

On the other hand, most people become to live with worry that unceasing improvement of computers and networks and installation of new software technologies would change their life and business.

It is not because of such technologies themselves but because of our vision to technologies. We are so eager to develop new technologies that we almost loose the original mission for development of technologies, i.e., technologies just for us. Shneiderman pointed out that we should shift our vision from gold computingh to gnew computingh. He explained it in his recent book as follows [1];

gThe old computing was about what computers could do; the new computing is about what users can do. Successful technologies are those that are in harmony with usersf needs. They must support relationships and activities that enrich the usersf experiences.h

We should shift our focus from information and communication technologies (ICT) to information and communication activities (ICA). We should investigate what are human activities on information and communication and how we can assist people in these activities.


2. Information and Communication Activities

Human activities on information such as collecting information and communication such as contacting to people are only a part of human activities but they become to play an important role more and more in modern life.

They include various kinds of activities. Shneiderman shows a simple and therefore understandable model called ART (Activity-Relation-Table) for them [1]. One axis of the table is activity category, i.e., Collect (information), Relate (Communication), Create (information), and Donate (Dissemination). The other is category of relationship, i.e.@Self, Family and friends, Colleagues and neighbors, and Citizens and markets. I agree with relationship categories, while I think that activity categories should be elaborated more because information handling and communication among people are mixed.

To explicate the difference, I propose two-layered model as an extension of his model. The first layer has three elements that concern information handling, i.e.,

              Collect (information)

              Create (information)


              Donate (information).

It shows user-centered view of life cycle of information (see Figure 1). Information is collected, then new information is created based on the collected information, and finally created information is donated to the society for future creation. It should be noted that new information is seldom created from scratch but created based on existing information[1].

The second layer has also three elements that concerns communication handling, i.e.,

              Relate (people)

              Collaborate (with people)


              Present (people).


It is communication-centered view of the above process. People establish relationship with other people, then collaborate with them to create new information, and finally present themselves as donor of new information. Having both information and communication layers is not redundant. What we refer as ginformationh in the context of computer technologies is stored data in computers, while human is the source of ginformationh in the broader sense, i.e., human can offer information dynamically. We should consider communication in order to include the function ghuman as information sourceh. This parallel view of information and communication activities have thus six categories as activities. Ideally all categories should be supported by computers. Some categories like Collect is well investigated, but others are not. In particular, the three categories in the communication layer should be investigated more.

We aim to investigate information and communication activities and support people in the all categories of the activities. We call such support ginformation and communication activity navigation (ICAN)h. It helps people to create new information by guiding information space and human network.


3. Our ongoing and past projects

In order to realize ICAN, we are conducting a variety of projects to solve the above problem. Some are to solve problems in a single part of ICA cycles, and others are to integrate different parts of ICA cycles (see Figure 2).

The first attempt is called gkMediah which finds relationship among people by analyzing WWW bookmarks[2][3]. It is directly related to gRelateh activity. The unique feature of this study among other studies for calculating similarity among bookmarks is that we place importance on folder structures to compare bookmarks. One of the results is that it is reliable to use folder structures than URLs, and the other is that we proposed a measurement to judge similarity of folder structure which can indicate similarity of people in their interesting topics.

Even relationship among people is obtained, it is usually organized locally so that it is not optimized from a global point of view. We proposed a method called gNeighborhood matchmaker methodh to optimize human network distributedly[4][5]. In this method, every participant in a network can take a role of matchmaking among people directly connected to her/him. By iterating this matchmaking, the network can be converged into an almost optimized one.

Our recent projects aim to realize seamless integration of six categories of activities. The first one is called gsocial schedulerh which is a collaborative scheduler run on mobile phones[6]. The unique feature of this system is that it can infer groups by analyzing scheduling requests and help people to form scheduling tasks. It is a small implementation of seamless integration of gRelateh, gCollaborateh, and gPresenth activities.

The second attempt is called gCommunity Navigatorh which is built to support people who attend an academic conference where people want to know people as well as to know research results. They can edit their interested papers and their acquaintances with this system then they can browse papers and people through the acquaintance network and receive recommendations on papers and people. This is another implementation of integrated services of six categories of activities.

The third attempt is called gSemantic Weblogh[7]. We focus on Weblog because Weblog is an integrated system for authoring and publishing, while WWW is basically a system

for publishing. It means that weblog supports activities in the in formation layer integratedly. The next target is to integrate the communication layer and the information layer. Weblog has also a good feature because weblog users tend to refer to each other and form so-called hweblog communitiesh. But this process is not supported explicitly by tools. Semblog suites extend Weblogs by adding flexible but uniform operations for Weblog sites and entries like aggregation and clipping, and facilities for searching and contacting to other Weblog sites. It means that Semblog suites support communication activities as well as information activities.



[1] Ben Shneiderman, Leonardo's Laptop: Human Needs and the New Computing Technologies, MIT Press, 2002


[2] Hideaki Takeda, Takeshi Matsuzuka, and Yuichiro Taniguchi. Discovery of shared topics networks among people --- a simple approach to find community knowledge from www bookmarks ---. In Proceedings of the Pacific Rim International Conference of Artificial Intelligence (PRICAI 00), Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, No. 1886, pages 668–678, 2000.


[3] Masahiro Hamasaki and Hideaki Takeda. Experimental results for a method to discover of human relationship based on www bookmarks. In N. Baba, L. C. Jain, and R. J. Howlett, editors, In Proceedings of Fifth International Conference on Knowledge-Based Intelligent Information Engineering Systems & Allied Thchnologies (KES-2001), volume 2, pages 1291–1295, Osaka, 2001. IOS Press. (Paper)


[4] Masahiro Hamasaki and Hideaki Takeda. Find better friends? -- re-configuration of personal networks by the neighborhood matchmaker method --. In Proceedings of the International Workshop on Semantic Web Foundations and Application Technologies (SWFAT), pages 73–76, 2003. (Paper)


[5] Masahiro Hamasaki and Hideaki Takeda. Neighborhood matchmaker method: A decentralized optimization algorithm for personal human network. In Proceedings of Seventh International Conference on Knowledge-Based Intelligent Information & Engineering Systems (KES2003), pages 929–935, September 2003. (Paper)


[6] Ohmukai and H.Takeda. Social Scheduler: A Proposal of Collaborative Personal Task Management. Proceedings of Web Intelligence (WI2003), 2003.


[7] I.Ohmukai, K.Numa, and H.Takeda. Egocentric Search Method for Authoring Support in Semantic Weblog. Workshop on Knowledge Markup and Semantic Annotation (Semannot2003), Held in conjunction with the Second International Conference on Knowledge Capture (K-CAP2003), 2003. (Paper)

[1] I do not claim that information creation is just combination of existing information. Rather creativity arises with understanding and interpretation of existing information.