Pervasive informatics: theory, practice and future directions
Pervasive informatics as an emerging interdisciplinary study focuses on how information affects human interaction with built environments. Pervasive informatics is different from pervasive computing in that its focus is on ICT-enhanced physical and social spaces, called intelligent pervasive spaces, rather than on the technology itself. An information-rich social interaction taking place within intelligent pervasive spaces offers a complex domain of study. Many theoretical approaches are relevant to the design of effective pervasive spaces. For example, a socio-technical systems (STS) approach is helpful to understand and support the provision and use of intelligent spaces and pervasive technologies. This article reviews some related contributing theories, including STS, computer-supported cooperative work and semiotics. Semiotics, the study of signs, symbols and information, is used to examine the efficacy of a built environment on physical, empirical, syntactical, semantic, pragmatic and social levels. The prototypical expression of 'agent-in-environment' allows analysis of the ontological dependency (or affordance) between the space and its capability. With an empirical example, the article illustrates how the semiotic approach is used in the design of pervasive spaces, which would lead to the further conceptual development of a pervasive informatics approach, including new methods and techniques.