Big Issues in CSCW session, CSCW 2013

ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing
26 February, 2013
San Antonio, TX

Big Issues in CSCW session


Ingrid Erickson – Designing Collaboration: Comparing Cases Exploring Cultural Probes as Boundary-Negotiating Objects

Cultural probes around boundary negotiating objects – prompts via Twitter, e.g. “Take a picture of sustainability (post it with #sustainability and #odoi11)” – leveraged existing platforms. Lots of very interesting images came from this. Content not profound, but prompts engendered communication with people on the street, people in teams, dialogues that generated new hashtags besides those requested. Led into a design workshop.

Another instance of using cultural probes with Light in Winter event (in Ithaca, NY). Found that probes have several properties that make them generative.

  • Exogenous: probes act like exogenous shocks to small organizations systems, interruption to normal practice that requires attention, initiating mechanism for collaboration.
  • Scaffolding: directed but unbounded tasks; hashtags and drawings act as scaffolds, directed boundary work to prompt engagement, informal structure that supports exploration over accuracy/specificity.
  • Diversity: Outputs improved by diversity – diverse inputs increased value, acted as funnel for diversity to become collective insight.

Think about designing collaboration – taboo topic with inherent implication of social engineering, but we’ve been doing it all along. As designed activities, cultural probes were oblique tasks to invite interpretation and meaning-making, build on exogenous shock value, give enough specificity for mutual direction, salient to context but easy to understand.

Potential to use distributed boundary probes? Online interaction space/s – assemble, display inputs; organize w/ hashtag/metadata; easy way to revise organizational schemes as they are negotiated; allow collaborators to hear thinking-aloud of fellow collaborators; can be designed as a game or casually building engagement over longer periods of time.


Steve Jackson – Why CSCW Needs Science Policy (and Vice-Versa)

CSCW impact means making findings relevant to new and broader communities, make the work more effective and meaningful in the world.

We’re all used to “implications for design” and maybe even “implications for practice”, but need to start including more “implications for policy” in our work moving forward. Often fail to make connections in a useful way, need to learn from policy and policy research. Not immediately relevant to all CSCW research, but relevant at the higher level. The connections are just underdeveloped relative to potential value.

Particularly important around collaborative science, scientific practices – Atkins report as a prime example. Separate European trajectory covered in the paper along with history of science policy as relates to CSCW. So-called “supercomputing famine” in the 1970’s (drew laughs) reflected ambition of transforming science with technologies. Leading examples – CI generation projects – may also be misleading as these are the big money CIs. Ethnographic studies now including up to 250 informants but all projects are examples from MREFC projects – major research equipment funding something something.

CSCW & policy gap – institutional tensions in funding, data sharing practices and policies, software provision & circulation.

Social contract with science – support, autonomy, and self-governance in exchange for goods, expertise, and the (applied) fruits of (basic) science – this was the attitude after WWI. Stepping away from pipeline model, moved toward post-normal science. Identified 3 modes of science, which are culturally specific. Can’t wait to read this paper!

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