Research diary for my Master thesis project: From Efficiency to Engagement: Game Dynamics on the Social Web. Tim Koch-Grünberg, Aveiro, Portugal.
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reading notes: Designing for Collaboration and Communication

These are my notes taken while reading Chapter 4 - Designing for Collaboration and Communication from the book PREECE, J., ROGERS, Y., SHARP, H. (2002): Interaction Design: beyond Human-Computer Interaction. Halfway through the post I switch from normal language to bullet-points lists. This happened because I was spending too much time pondering the form of my notes instead of the content.

 

 

Designing for Collaboration and Communication

 

We, as a society, developed diverse communication mechanisms which aid us to communicate efficiently with each other, even if most of the time we aren't really aware of them. Three examples of these mechanisms include conversational mechanisms, coordination mechanisms and awareness mechanisms.

 

1. Conversational Mechanisms

Talking comes naturally to us, but actually it is a quite complex social coordination. Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson (1978) described three rules which govern whose turn it is to say something. These rules are checked from 1 to 3, cycling through them if one of them is not applied:

1 – a current speaker chooses the next speaker by asking an opinion, question or request. If this does not happen, the next rule applies.

2 – another person decides to talk. If this does not happen, the next rule applies.

3 – the current speaker continues talking. If this does not happen, the cycle starts again at the beginning.

 

We can observe this behaviour frequently in real-life: when somebody says all he has to say, without feeling the need to pass the word to somebody else (rule #1 did not apply), but nobody else decides to talk (rule #2 did not apply), and the first speaker still has nothing more to say (rule #3 did not apply), an embarrassing silence might arise. Shortly afterwards, the first speaker might ask his partner what he thinks (maybe just to break the silence), starting the cycle again at rule number 1.

 

Another way to conceptualize talking is through adjacency pairs, as identified by Shegloff and Sacks (1973). Here, conversational remarks are supposed to come in pairs. The first sets the stage and expectation of what is to come next, directing the way in which what actually comes next is heard and interpreted. Adjacency pairs may get embedded into each other, when instead of replying to the first remark, the conversation partner makes another remark.

 

If a conversation is coming to a situation of uncertainty and potential misinterpretation, repair mechanisms need to be applied to repair the conversation to a state of correctly functioning information flows. Discovering breakdowns in communication requires that both partners are aware and pay attention to what is being said. If not, they may misinterpret each other without realizing it.

 

2. Coordination Mechanisms

Coordination takes place when a group of people act together to achieve something. To help us coordinate our individual actions towards a greater goal, we employ a diverse set of coordination mechanisms. Some of these include:

 

3. Awareness Mechanisms

Awareness allows us to know what is happening and who is talking to whom. It is important in learning about our (physical and social) environments and our potential conversation and cooperation partners.

People that work together need to be constantly aware of what the others are doing, specially if their work is closely associated, depending on the latest actions of their partners. If somebody in a closely-knit team, due to distractions or other reasons, isn't aware of his partners actions, he might carry on his work based on the latest situation he was aware of. This might result in errors and inappropiate behaviour.

 

4. Conceptual Frameworks

There are a number of different conceptual frameworks (borrowed from other disciplines) which allow us to conceptualize and analyze social interaction. Two of these are the language/action framework and distributed cognition.

 

4.1. The language/action framework

 

4.2. Distributed Cognition

 

4.3. Other Conceptual Frameworks

Other conceptual frameworks include:

 

References

 


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