Evaluating Collaboration

Defining a method to evaluate collaboration is a hard and challenging issue. Billinghurst, Belchera, Guptaa & Kiyokawaa in their studies about Augmented Reality collaborative interfaces proposes three key points :

performance measures : typical performance measures include how fast a task can be completed, and the quality of the outcome of the collaboration.
process measures : objective communication measures that capture the process of collaboration extracted from transcriptions of audio and video recordings and notes made during the collaborative task : frequency of conversational turns, incidence/duration of overlapping speech, number of interruptions, turn completions, dialogue structure, back-channels… Gesture and non-verbal behaviors can also be analyzed for characteristic features.
subjective measures : based entirely on the users perception of their experience.

Defining an appropriate metrics to discriminate collaboration patterns is difficult and according to my Pierre Dillenbourg, each research group has his own metric or method of evaluation…

Below I put a discussion on the moo with Colin about that stuff.
TO DO -> write a white paper about that and visit Amy Joller (Italy) and Martin Muhlenbrock (Xerox, Grenoble)
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Weblogs, awareness and transactive memory

How come weblogs, awareness and transactive memory are related ?

As a matter of fact, weblogs, by presenting somebody’s thought, references, activities, plans and so on, is a kind of asynchronous awareness tool. Dourish and Belloti (1992) gave one of the best-known definitions for awareness: “awareness is an understanding of the activities of others, which provides a context for your own activity”. Asynchrouns means that information is presented in an historical perspective. It can be a summary of the whole information collected after a period of time (compile function) or a differentiation between recent information and past ones (decay function). Information presented in weblogs in a longitudinal/historical way provide users with a context for their own activities.

Transactive Memory is a theory proposed by Wegner (1987). This theory examines the process by which individuals determine who knows what and who knows who knows what. Information presented in weblogs are a way to enable transactive memory within a team

Mobile Phones Profiles

Marketing people try to categorize people by building profile in order to sell them the most appropriate stuff. I’ve listed below few so-called “profiles” : ‘balanced enjoyers’, ‘inside explorers’, ‘cool followers’, ‘status seekers’, ‘asian aspirers’, ‘trendsetters’ (this one is too simple :), ‘fun loving youth’, ‘professional pioneers’, ‘selective pioneers’, ‘practically phoners’…

Jacques Chirac is the prototype of a cool profile : ‘grandfather’s phone’ as told him the swedish prime minister, so cool !

I don’t know whether their marketing studies takes into account the real practice/use of the mobile devices by potential users but those categories sounds too good to be relevant 🙁

J’ai lu un texte très intéressant de Gilles Deleuze (dans Pourparlers, 1990) : “Post-Scriptum sur les sociétés de contrôle” qui traite du glissement qui s’opère actuellement des sociétés disciplinaires apparues au XVIIIème (famille, école, usine, hopital, prison). Ces institutions sont finies, seule leur agonie est gérée. Deleuze rejoint ainsi Foucault, Virilio et Burrough en parlant de société non plus disciplinaire mais de contrôle : l’entreprise remplace l’usine, la formation permanente remplace l’école… Contrairement à la société disciplinaire où on n’arretait pas de recommencer dans chaque institution différente (et ou chaque individu était défini par sa signature et son matricule), la société de contrôle n’en finit avec rien (l’essentiel étant alors le password -> qui renvoit à l’accès cf. L’âge des Accès de Jeremy Rifkin). De plus, à chaque type de société correspond des machines exprimant les formes sociales capables de leur donner naissance et de s’en servir : les vieilles sociétés utilisaient leviers, poulies, horloges voire machine énérgétiques; les sociétés de contrôle : machines de troisième espèce, machines informatique et ordinateurs. On passe donc d’un capitalisme de production à un capitalisme de surproduction dans laquelle les entreprises ont une “âme”, révélation terrifiante s’il en est : le marketing est devenu l’instrument du contrôle social.

“Ce qui compte n’est pas la barrière mais l’ordinateur qui repère la position de chacun licite ou illicite, et opère une modulation universelle.”
“Les anneaux d’un serpent sont encore plus compliqués que les trous d’une taupinière”

Cognitive functions tu support Collaborative Work

I’ve made a brief review of the cognitive functions that should be fullfilled for collaborative work:Group memory/Storing the context/Group mirrors/Conflict/disagreement/Explanation/Internalization/Appropriation/Shared cognitive load/Mutual regulation/Social grounding/Division of labor/Building a shared understanding of the situation.

In order to augment collaboration with mobile technologies, we should provide effective tools to support those functions. For instance, a collaborative weblog (where two or more users could post messages) is a way to support group memory.

Misceallanous Stuff

I was thinking of innovatives ways to use mobile devices for educational purposes. We could propose a kind of game in a city where players have to collaborate (different roles could be assigned), performing a joint acivity where they need to negotiate. Maybe I could use something like that to test the effects of location-awareness on collaborative processes !

Thanx JJ for the reference about microdocuments. It is definetely the trend nowadays. Smoogle defines it as documents made up of microcontents : “no less than three words and no more than 1,100 words in length, has a title, text body, a single topic, and links to other documents on the Internet or within a network environment, and has a url or semantic means that can be addressed through a link any body following that link can find the document” : from sms to blogs entry. Knowledge management benefits from this trend : those documents represent a very efficient way to deliver information. The content in itself is also reduced to the focused information. Using microdocuments is a good way to eliminate noise around the information. This makes me think of the actual trend : reading reuters headlines instead of reading press articles : you got the info and just the facts.

Another term for microdocument is nanopublishing.

Submitted Paper for International Conference on Groupware

I have written a paper for the International Conference on Groupware in Autrans, France (Sunday 28, September – Thursday 2, October 2003). Here is the abstract :

The Impact of Awareness Tools on Mutual Modelling in a Collaborative Video-Game

This paper describes the findings of an experimental research concentrating on collaboration in a multi-player video game. The overall goal is to study the cognitive impacts of the awareness tools. The focus is in finding an effect on performance as well as on the representation an individual build of what his partner knows, plans and intends to do (i.e. Mutual Modelling). Using an awareness tools has a significant effect by improving task performance. However, the players who were provided with this tool did not show any improvement of their mutual modelling. Further analysis on contrasted groups revealed that there was an effect of the awareness tool on mutual modelling for players who spent a large amount of time using the tool.

This research was conducted for my MSc dissertation. I still want to work on the very issue of studying the socio-cognitive impacts of awareness. I think my focus will be directed towards context-awareness or location-awareness and thus relations between space and cognition.

Stuff about Social Space

Social Space is a crux issue. It should be considered as the cornerstone of joint activities and hence to collaborative work/learning. This space is build considering the traces left in the environment (virtual or not) by people. We all send signals into social space that can be decoded by others as trace for a potential use. For instance, “following the leader” to the baggage claim is an action we often perform : in this case, we see somebody (the first guy who jump off the plane 🙂 following a certain path (this is the signal). We decode this signal as a cue : this guy may be aware of the way one should follow to get to the baggage claim.

According to Per Persson and Fredrik Espinoza’s talk, there is to kind of social spaces :

direct social space : synchronous interaction like one-to-one communication (face2face, chat), copresence of people, mutual awareness, use of shared artefacts… We don’t really need to decode the trace since there are some “conventions” like verbal language, signs…
indirect social space : we need to decode the signal : following the leader as I explain above, fingerprints, others were here, public crowds, recommender systems, traces of group identity (uniforms, brands), tags and graffiti, annotations…

Furthermore, human beings are definetely social animals. We love living in social space and we’re all observers (yeah this is linked to Piaget’s constructivism 🙂 who interprets others’ signals.

The VCR watches TV for you !

I really like this quote from Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency :

“Take the VCR, for example. Not only can it watch TV for you, it can watch more channels and watch them better than you can. Similarly, the Electric Monk does your believing for you. Instead of having to wade through mountains of propaganda, you’d tell your Electric Monk to pick a few random hopeless causes each week.”

The book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Science Fiction (written by Cory Doctorow and Karl Schroeder and published by Alpha Books)seems to be a good reference… a starting point to write something during my spare time 🙂

Additionally (I don’t know if you notice that this post is total chaos), I’ve discovered that the “copyleft” concept I fancy exists : The Creative Commons “is devoted to expanding the range of creative work available for others to build upon and share” CC proposes to share creative works, different licenses are opened. Cory Doctorrow’s book “Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom” is a cool example.