Situatedness

The last academic paper on my list of recommended reading for the “modest” corrections on my PhD thesis is; Schaper, Marie-Monique, Santos, Maria, Malinverni, Laura, Zerbini Berro, Juan & Pares, Narcis. 2018. Learning about the past through situatedness, embodied exploration and digital augmentation of cultural heritage sites. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies 114: 36-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2018.01.003. Its a title that intrigues – I am particularly interested in what “Situatedness” means. It’s of course one of those somewhat invented words that academia lives on, and as I type is underlined as a possible typo. But often when you read about these things, you can see why the word chosen is the only one that will do in this context. Let’s see if that’s true this time.

First a quick note to self: this paper is a bout the education value of a digital experience, and given that I have already been warned that I overuse learning as a motive for visiting, I should be wary of quoting too much from this paper. It starts by explaining the digital technologies have a place in archeological other heritage sites for reasons as diverse as “these sites are often empty of objects which are probably housed in museum buildings” and “weather can become an important barrier for having fixed information displays and even more so for audiovisual or interactive material.” It goes on to discuss two paradigms for Augmented Reality: “Window on the World” and “World as Support” Window on the World, is the most commonly experienced overlays the real world with the digital data. World as Support “recognizes the surrounding physical world dynamically (i.e. topography, objects, users, gesture and motion) and projects the context-aware digital information directly onto it.” They argue that this second paradigm is better for heritage sites as it does not distract the user from the physical, but rather enhances it and draws attention to it. Having experienced both (though not perhaps the second quite as the authors intend) I am not convinced that the difference is massive, if using, say Microsoft’s HUD, though I will agree that it is better than using an AR function on a mobile device, where your window is only six inches across.

This though is what the word situatedness relates to. – with World as Support methods, the authors argue “Situatedness triggers different emotions and helps to foster certain aspects of the learning content.” Interestingly though, at one point they say “Other interpretations were evoked by the children’s physical presence (situatedness) in the shelter.” So situatedness is implied to be equivalent to what other people call presence. Now, the word “presence” does have an interesting history academically, which I have written about. And yes, often it refers more to being immersed in a virtual world, but I argue (and indeed I make my case in the link post) it is a better word to use when talking about the real world as well. But I do recall my external examiner taking issue with the word. I think I will stick to my guns, but maybe cite this paper as the source of an alternative word which I can, as they have done, parenthesise.

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