Reading Note : effects of proximity on collaboration

Bookmarklets | MOVABLE TYPE

Kraut, R. E., Fussell, S. R., Brennan, S. E., & Siegel, J. (in press). Understanding effects of proximity on collaboration: Implications for technologies to support remote collaborative work. In P. Hinds & S. Kiesler (Eds.)

Distributed work. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

In this paper, the authors identify the mechanisms by which proximity males collaboration easier :

1. Initiating conversations : easier in physical settings than in mediated communication
1.1 proximity increases frequency of communication (people communicate most with those who are physically close)
1.2 likelihood of chance encounter
1.3 transitions from encounters to communication (+ expe : Kendon and Ferber, 1973)
1.4 community membership and repeated encounters -> common ground
BUT : (disdavantage of physical proximity) people must attend to the same thing at the same time : it must be synchronous + the opportunistic and spontaneous communication that is supports is not always welcome (interruption, loss of privacy) + it privilege people who are nearby
WITH technology : possible chatrroms and moo : chance to encounter thanks to buddy list (whi is available)

2. Conducting conversations
common ground, mutual knowledge
precise timing of cues, coordination of turn-taking, repaire of misunderstanding
BUT (disdavantage of physical proximity): cognitive demands on speaker and listener (monitoring what is being said, feedback…)
WITH technology : possible even though it is more difficult with other media, cf article Clark and brennan, least collab effort

3. Maintaining task and team awareness
BUT (disdavantage of physical proximity): this information (conveyed by physical proximity) is necessary for internal communication but not sufficient
WITH technology : challenging because too much information could be disruptive. But systems do exist. Here I can cite studies about the effect of awareness tools (cf my master thesis)