Imprint is a touchscreen kiosk that visualizes data from a printer queue. Print jobs, when compared to other work-related activities such as surfing the web or sending and receiving email, capture a slice of important documents for many workers. A worker might glance at many hundreds of emails, but she may choose to print only an important few. Imprint samples what workers print and therefore can extract and make visible important topics, issues, and problems that a workgroup community is dealing with. Workers at companies in the U.S. used 3.2 billion reams of paper in 2004, much of it as they print and copy documents.
Imprint monitors a printer (or group of printers), parsing out text, images, and even layout information from the queue. Imprint displays visualizations of aggregated data on a large touch-screen kiosk in the printer area as an interactive slideshow. Imprint visualizations depict two broad classes of information: social information, information about which members of the community are printing, what concepts are popular, and what sub-groups and tensions are present in the community and second, environmental information, information about how much paper, toner, and energy is being used as individuals print their documents.
Our hypothesis, that we are currently testing in long term deployments, is that community members will use Imprint's visualizations to reflect on their habits and activities and on the community itself. In doing so, we expect that they might adopt printing practices to manage their social identities and perhaps to reduce their use of energy, paper, and toner. More important than member's actions are their motivations and thinking; we want to determine if Imprint can serve as the beginning of discussions, conversations, and explorations into this often ignored but potentially very helpful data set.