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Subjectivity in Collaborative Virtual Environments

Dave Snowdon, Kai-Mikael Jää-Aro
Although it is generally desirable that users in a collaborative virtual environment should perceive it in the same way (albeit from independently controlled viewpoints) we argue that in some situations it may be useful to allow users' views of the environment to diverge. For example, in the field of abstract information visualisation it is possible to imagine several techniques for visualisation of the same data set. Since the data set has no intrinsic "natural" representation (unlike a 3D CAD model for example) the choice of a particular technique will depend on the task at hand or on the preferences of the user. It is therefore natural for visualisation systems to present the user with a number of choices which govern the nature of the visualisation presented to them. Users would like to collaborate using these visualisations but current CVEs force all users to share the same presentation of the environment thereby giving users the choice of either working independently or collaborating using a representation of the information that may not be well suited to their needs. We therefore argue that users should be able to tailor their views of the VE to those that best suit their needs and still be able to collaborate. We refer to such environments as subjective environments [Snowdon'95]
proc. of workshop on System Aspects of Sharing a Virtual Reality, at CVE'98, June 1998, Manchester,UK

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