- Jan 2019
The urgency of time may make it too onerous forthe extra effort of articulating actions as they are beingperformed, yet most emergency response requires somecommunication.
Interaction of time (tempo/pace) and breakdowns in articulation work.
Explicitly articulated narratives mayalso make clearer that multiple sequences of actions maybe occurring simultaneously, thus resolving role conflictsby allowing multiple ways to accomplish a task
Evokes Schmidt and Bannon's articulation work in CSCW.
In other words, the articulation work , which had to be made explicit previously, became in part implicit by being embedded in the document and in the actions taken upon the document.
Evokes Schmidt and Bannon's articulation work
By ignoring the diversity and discord of the ‘goals’ of theparticipants involved, the differentiation of strategies, and the incongruence of theconceptual frames of reference within a cooperating ensemble, much of the currentCSCW research evades the problem of how to provide computer support for peoplecooperating through the establishment of a common information space.
Has this design challege been adequately addressed in CSCW (and CHI, for that matter) in the last 30-ish years?
On the one hand, the visibility requirement is amplified by this divergence. Thatis, knowledge of the identity of the originator and the situational context motivat-ing the production and dissemination of the information is required so as to enableany user of the information to interpret the likely motives of the originator. On theother hand, however, the visibility requirement is moderated by the divergence ofinterests and motives. A certain degree of opaqueness is required for discretionarydecision making to be conducted in an environment charged with colliding inter-ests. Hence,visibility must be bounded.
What role does system meta data (version control, user history, etc.) play in bounding the visibility of decision making?
This also seems to be an area ripe for more collaborative design approaches (participatory, reflective, feminist, etc.)
Thus, a computer-basedsystem supporting cooperative work involving decision making should enhancethe ability of cooperating workers to interrelate their partial and parochial domainknowledge and facilitate the expression and communication of alternative perspec-tives on a given problem. This requires a representation of the problem domainas a whole as well as a representation, in some form, of the mappings betweenperspectives on that problem domain.
This seems to still be a major challenge in information system design as well as collaborative workflow. Even if the information/meta context is made available, do people use it?
If the decision making process (1) involves a large and indefinite number of peo-ple, (2) requires the integration of a number of different perspectives or domains,and (3) continues for a protracted period of time or even indefinitely, the interpreta-tion of the objects in a common database and hence the construction of a commoninformation space is hampered by the fact that the other originators and recipientsare not co-present.
Ways to better integrate people engaged in distributed work are needed.
Is this still true some 27 years later?
Three particular information quality problems are raised by Schmidt and Bannon:
1) provenance (originator) of the information and his/her/its reliability
2) context of the information
3) politics of the information
The fact that information produced by discretionary decision making cannotbe conveyed anonymously has important implications for CSCW systems design.Naturally, such information must be accompanied by the identity of the source.But how to represent and present the identity of the source?
This dilemma also applies to the complexity of representing time in information systems.
In cooperative work settings involving discretionary decision making, the exer-cise of mutual critique of the decisions arrived at by colleagues is required for allparticipants. Therefore, in order to be able to assess information generated by dis-cretionary decision making, each participant must be able to access the identity ofthe originator of a given unit of information.
Source credibility is a complex problem for SBTF. it is not always clear how/why a person on social media has certain information, how they interpret it, and how they summarize it.
At the level of the objects themselves, shareabilitymay not be a problem, but in terms of their interpretation, the actors must attempt tojointly construct a common information space which goes beyond their individualpersonal information spaces. A nice example of how this is a problem has been givenby Savage (1987, p. 6): ‘each functional department has its own set of meaningsfor key terms. [...] Key terms such aspart, project, subassembly, toleranceareunderstood differently in different parts of the company.’
This would be good to explore with SBTF in the interviews. Particularly, whether there are different meanings to time modes, time meta data, etc., applied by Core Team, Coordinators, GIS Team, experienced volunteers, new volunteers, etc.
Is this part of the problem with articulating the information extracted from social media and entering it in the Google Sheet in order to become an artifact?
Their importance lies in the interpretation human actors place on themeaning of the representational object. The distinction between the material carrierof information—the object—and its meaning is crucial. The material representationof information in the common space (e.g., a letter, memo, drawing, file) exists asan objective phenomenon and can be manipulated as an artifact. The semantics ofthe information carried by the artifact, however, is, put crudely, ‘in the mind’ of thebeholder, and the acquisition of information conveyed by the artifacts requires aninterpretive activity on the part of the recipient. Thus, a common information spaceencompasses the artifacts that are accessible to a cooperative ensembleas well asthe meaning attributed to these artifacts by the actors.
Here Schmidt and Bannon describe the basis for articulation work in a common information space -- which encompasses interactions and breakdowns between information, metaphors, sensemaking, and artifacts.
From a time mode perspective, this gets at what I describe as synchronization.
Cooperative work is not facilitated simply by the provision of a shared database, butrequires the active construction by the participants of a common information spacewhere the meanings of the shared objects are debated and resolved, at least locallyand temporarily. Objects must thus be interpreted and assigned meaning, meaningsthat are achieved by specific actors on specific occasions of use. Computer supportfor this aspect of cooperative work raises a host of interesting and difficult issues.
Pretty much a nutshell of the SBTF time study challenges.
These protocols, formal structures, plans, procedures, and schemes can be con-ceived of asmechanismsin the sense that they (1) are objectified in some way(explicitly stated, represented in material form), and (2) are deterministic or at leastgive reasonably predictable results if applied properly. And they aremechanisms ofinteractionin the sense that they reduce the complexity of articulating cooperativework.
People apply "mechanisms of interaction" to reduce the complexity of the articulation work.
Schmidt and Bannon use these examples:
• Formal and informal organizational structures • Planning and scheduling • Standard operating procedures (see Suchman's work on situated action) • Indexes and classifications for organizational and retrieval (see Bowker and Star on boundary objects/infrastructures)
Therefore, instead of pursuing the elusive aim of devising organizational modelsthat are not limited abstractions and thus in principle brittle when confronted withthe inexhaustible multiplicity of reality, organizational models in CSCW applica-tions should be conceived of asresourcesfor competent and responsible workers.
Schmidt and Bannon posit that organizational models in CSCW should be flexible enough to support new interpretations/evaluations of the model (contingent on circumstances), as well as capture decisions to "adapt, circumvent, execute, modify, etc. the underlying model".
In this section of the paper we broach two aspects of this articulation issue, onefocusing on the management of workflow, the other on the construction and manage-ment of what we term a ‘common information space’. The former concept has beenthe subject of discussion for some time, in the guise of such terms as office automa-tion and more recently, workflow automation. The latter concept has, in our view,been somewhat neglected, despite its critical importance for the accomplishmentof many distributed work activities
A quick scan of ACM library papers that tag "articulation work" seems to indicate the "common information space" problem still has not attracted a lot of study. This could be a good entry point for my work with CSCW because time cuts across both workflow and information space.
Nicely bundles boundary infrastructure, sense-making and distributed work
Definition of articulation work: "Articulation work arises as a integral part of cooperative work as a set of activities required to manage the distributed nature of cooperative work. In the words of Strauss (1985, p. 8), articulation work is ‘a kind of supra-type of work in any division of labor, done by the various actors’:
However, in general cooperative workin real world settings has a number of characteristics that must be taken into accountif CSCW systems are to be acceptable to users and, hence, commercially viable:
Characteristics of cooperative work:
(Taken verbatim from the paper)
• "Cooperative ensembles are either large, or they are embedded within larger ensembles."
• "Cooperative ensembles are often transient formations, emerging to handle a particular situation after which they dissolve again".
• "Membership of cooperative ensembles is not stable and often even non-determinable. Cooperative ensembles typically intersect."
• "The pattern of interaction in cooperative work changes dynamically with the requirements and constraints of the situation."
• "Cooperative work is distributed physically, in time and space."
• "Cooperative work is distributed logically, in terms of control, in the sense that agents are semi-autonomous in their partial work."
• "Cooperative work involves incommensurate perspectives (professions, specialties, work functions, responsibilities) as well as incongruent strategies and discordant motives."
• "There are no omniscient agents in cooperative work in natural settings."
A cooperative work arrangement arises simply because there is no omniscientand omnipotent agent. Specifically, a cooperative work arrangement may emerge inresponse to different requirements (Schmidt,1990):
cooperative work arrangements include:
(verbatim from paper) • "augment the mechanical and information processing capacities of human individuals"
• "combine the specialized activities of multiple workers"
• "application of multiple problem solving strategies and heuristics to a given problem"
• "application of multiple perspectives and conceptions on a given problem"
The Rich Diversity of Cooperative Work
Three many take-aways from cooperative work:
It involves people doing work with specific characteristics, e.g., distributed, formed as ensembles, etc.
Cooperative work occurs to produce a product or service together because of "technical necessities or economic requirements"
is not limited by specific forms of interaction between workers
As a research effort that involves a large number of established disciplines,research areas, and communities, CSCW is an arena of discordant views, incom-mensurate perspectives, and incompatible agendas. However, in the conception ofCSCW proposed here—as a research area devoted to exploring and meeting the sup-port requirements of cooperative work arrangements, CSCW is basically adesignoriented research area. This is the common ground. Enter, and you must change.
Circa 1992 this description of CSCW as a design-oriented research area made sense to find some common ground between the CS groupware faction and the org studies, designers, social science, etc. Does this still hold up today?
CSCW should be conceived of asan endeavor to understand the nature andrequirements of cooperative work with the objective of designing computer-basedtechnologies for cooperative work arrangements.
Definition of CSCW (per Schmidt and Bannon). This is contested.
Schmidt and Bannon argue later (pg 49) that "If CSCW is to be taken seriously, the basic approach of CSCW research should not be descriptive but constructive."
- distributed work
- system design
- articulation work
- boundary objects
- situated action