Readings' list

Victoria Bellotti and Keith Edwards, Intelligibility and accountability: human considerations in context-aware systems, Human-Computer Interaction, 16(2-4), 2001, 193-212.

Defining the context from a human perspective.

Dey's paper proposes a conceptual framework for context aware applications, and implicit is the assumption that by being "aware" of the context a system can infer that it should take certain actions.
There are two problems with their framework:

  1. Designer are unlikely to be successful representing human and social aspects of context such that machine can act in our behavior. Therefore design principles must enables human beings to understand the system and empower them to take decisions on how to proceed.
  2. A component-based approach may not equip the designer with the tools to provide visibility and control. The component hides the data acquisition by sensors, for example, but is is important to know which kind of sensors are used (audio vs. video for example).

Human Consideration in Context

People are difficult to deal with as contextual entities, they improvise, they are contingent and non deterministic. Thus only non human aspect of the context should be handled by devices.

Basic Context Awareness: Responsiveness to the Environment

    Context aware system that respond to their environment in some way (air conditioner, security systems ...). They can supplant human initiative in the most careful proscribed situation.

Human Aspect of Context: Responsiveness to People

In most situations involving human users need direct control because sensors alone cannot determine the situation.
The system needs to be intelligible so the user can understand how it works and how to control it. This would also help when the system is not working like expected.

Systems need to involve users in action outcomes. Separating applications from the basic sensing , inferencing and services make the system much more difficult to control from a human point of view.

Social Aspect of Context: Responsiveness to Interpersonal

Interpersonal relationships are very difficult to deal with, we cannot let a system act in our behalf. Even if we decide to share some documents in some situations, we may not want to share them in others. Also things may change with time. Moreover we have not idea of who will have access to info.
Mediation between people are an ambitious and threatening aim.

Intelligibility: Context-aware systems that seek to act upon what they infer about the context must be able to represent to their users what they know, how they know it, and what they are doing about it.

Accountability: Context-aware systems must enforce user accountability when, based on their inferences about the social context, they seek to mediate user actions that impact others.

A framework for intelligibility and accountability in context aware systems.

Context aware systems must embody certain design principle that acknowledge the fallibility and inaccuracies inherent in their inferencing systems by equipping users with tools necessary to interact intelligently and responsibly.


  1. Inform
  2. Feedback:
        Feedforward: What will happen if
        Confirmation: What I am doing and what I have done
  3. Enforce identity and action disclosure
  4. Control

For example, for feedback, users need to know: