People wish to maintain a level of awareness of timely information, including presence of others in the workplace and other social settings. We believe this provides better exchange, coordination and contact within a community, especially as people work in asynchronous times and distributed locations. The challenge is to develop lightweight techniques for awareness, interaction and communication using shared information appliances. In this paper, we describe the design of an exploratory responsive display projected within a shared workspace at the MIT Media Lab. The system uses visual sensing to provide relevant information and constructs traces of people’s activity over time. Such aware portals may be deployed in casual workplace domains, distributed workgroups, and everyday public spaces.