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Situated Remembrance Agent

What is a remembrance agent?

Brad Rhodes at MIT has developed a Remembrance Agent. This is a software agent linked to a note-taker application. The agent identifies key words in the notes currently being made by the user and offers links to previous notes on similar topics. The links are updated continuously in a window at one corner of the user's display. The user is free to ignore the links or follow them as he pleases.

What is a situated remembrance agent?

The MIT agent suggests matches in the event of related content, but you could also imagine cross-linking objects when their associated situation matches the current situation. For example, when John is in your office a situated rememberance agent offers links to the documents you were working on when John was previously in your office. Indeed it would also be possible to cross-reference situation and content. For, example when John is in your office it might suggest links to documents mentioning him, or when you type John's name into a document, it might reference a photo taken in his presence, or when you enter a supermarket it automatically retrieves a list headed "supermarket shopping".

Why is it so important to the programme?

The remembrance agent demonstrates the possibility for pro-active, serendipitous behaviour that comes from a computing device that follows the wearer's context automatically. In particular the situated remembrance application offers one of the simplest useful services: retrieval. Thus this is an excellent first application to investigate how it feels to have a computer take the inititiave without specific prior programming by the user. In addition we want to establish by how much interaction with a computer is simplified once the device shares your context. In other words, if traditional human-computer interaction comprises bringing the computer into line with your personal context and specifying a service, then how much of the HCI problem disappears if the computer is already tracking your context, leaving you merely to specify the service relative to your current context?

traditional hci = context specification + relative service specification

situated hci = relative service specification

context specification - typically this involves establishing or navigating a directory structure capable of capturing the range of contexts in which the user may find themselves.

relative service specification - within the esatblished context selecting which of the likely services is actually required.

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