|1.||To characterise the pattern of verbal communication in design tasks mediated by computer supported communication.|
|2.||To determine the extent to which object focused communication is coupled with visualisation (e.g. co-occurs with drawing, gesture or object manipulation).|
|3.||To establish the impact of communication medium (video and whiteboard) on these patterns of communication.|
|4.||To characterise the pattern and use of mechanisms, i.e. drawing, gesture and object manipulation.|
To determine the functions of visual three dimensional communication in industrial design we must study what, why and how designers actually communicate. One approach, employed in many studies, has been to study directly designers face to face communication during design related activities (e.g. Tang and Leifer 1988; Bly, 1988; Scrivener et al., 1995).
However, Hollan and Stornetta ( 1992) have argued against the use of face to face interaction, or "being there" as a model for telecommunications design. They draw a distinction between needs, media and mechanisms in which communication needs are independent of the medium used. Mechanisms are ways to meet communication needs that are enabled by a medium. They argue that while needs are media independent, mechanisms are closely connected to specific media. A corollary of Hollan and Stornetta's argument is that communication can only be studied in the context of particular media and mechanisms. They also argued that new mechanisms are required for new media, and mechanisms which are effective in one medium, such as CMC, may be awkward or clumsy in another, such as face to face communication. Gaver ( 1992) has also argued along similar lines, that different media offer different affordances and have different limitations. Therefore, the mechanisms employed in face to face visual three dimensional communication may not provide us with insights into effective CMC mechanisms, nor may we learn much about the affordances or limitations of CMC. Consequently, we chose to