Proceedings of the 31st International BCS Human Computer Interaction Conference (HCI)
3-6 July 2017
A novel collaborative artefact reconstruction environment design is presented that is informed by experimental task observation and participatory design. The motivation for the design was to enable collaborative human and computer effort in the reconstruction of fragmented cuneiform tablets: millennia-old clay tablets used for written communication in early human civilisation. Thousands of joining cuneiform tablet fragments are distributed within and between worldwide collections. The reconstruction of the tablets poses a complex 3D jigsaw puzzle with no physically tractable solution.
In reconstruction experiments, participants collaborated synchronously and asynchronously on virtual and physical reconstruction tasks. Results are presented that demonstrate the difficulties experienced by human reconstructors in virtual tasks compared to physical tasks. Unlike computer counterparts, humans have difficulty identifying joins in virtual environments but, unlike computers, humans are averse to making incorrect joins. A successful reconstruction environment would marry the opposing strengths and weaknesses of humans and computers, and provide tools to support the communications and interactions of successful physical performance, in the virtual setting.
The paper presents a taxonomy of the communications and interactions observed in successful physical and synchronous collaborative reconstruction tasks. Tools for the support of these communications and interactions were successfully incorporated in the “i3D” virtual environment design presented.