moving between PDAs, groupware and public displays

We are investigating how people move between individual and group work over technologies including personal digital assistants (PDAs), shared public displays, and remote groupware. In particular, we are trying to understand the distinction between personal and public artifacts, the relationship of these artifacts to the devices that they live on, and how people move artifacts between the devices.

SharedNotes is a system that allows people to create and manipulate both personal and public notes between three devices: a personal digital assistant (PDAs, in this case the Palm Pilot), a large public display, and their office computer (which acts both as a personal device and a system for remote collaboration). What makes this choice of devices interesting is that PDAs are perceived as highly personal devices, single display groupware are highly public devices, and office computers sit somewhere in-between. However, we wanted these three devices to support both the personal and public activity that occurs over some task. The left figure shows how a person would see their personal and public information on their PDA, while the right figure shows how this same information is reflected in the public display.

Essentially, people can work on their PDAs or computers for personal work, bring some or all of their work into a meeting using a public display, work on the public display either directly or indirectly through their PDAs, and walk away with a record of all public contributions.

Primary Investigators

Michael Boyle (Research Assistant)
Saul Greenberg (Supervisor)


  • Low Level Protocol developed for communicating information between PDAs and GroupKit.
  • SharedNotes implemented on the PDA.
  • SharedNotes implemented in GroupKit, supporting both public displays and remote participants.
  • Paper presented at Workshop on Handheld CSCW, ACM CSCW Conference, November 4, 1998.

Current Status

  • A usability study of the system is in preparation. We will redevelop our ideas further based on the outcome of the study.