Studies of mediation

The mediating role of a smart artifact within an activity consists of i) reading the actions of actors subscribed to the activity, ii) processing and interpreting those readings based on the moral principles of the activity’s dominant form of sociality, and iii) signaling suggestions or enabling affordances that promote interaction between actors. This rises two fundamental questions about the design of such artifact: First, how actions of a smart artifact can signify an ongoing social situation for the actors? Second, in what extent actors interaction within an activity is improved by the actions of a smart artifact?

In order to explore answers to these questions, this research program formulates comparative studies in which custom designed smart artifacts act as mediators aiming to improve social interaction in several ways. The overarching idea is to contrasts an instance of a given social interaction with another instance of the same interaction but mediated by a smart artifact. The contrast reveals to what extent such mediation elicits positive or negative interactions such as cooperation, collaboration or the development of trust between participants.

The intervention in each study has different instantiations of smart artifacts. The aim of each instantiation is to facilitate activity participants the thinking and understanding about their collective activity. These smart artifacts are designed as adaptive signifiers, which are cognitive affordances that signify in real time the current interaction of subjects. While each smart artifact estimates potential conflicts between the program-of-actions of subjects, it displays dynamic representations intended to convey the ideal equilibrium of resources of the ongoing activity.