Human-Computer Interaction: Communication, Cooperation, and Application Design

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

criticize the prevailing model of communication in the management literature that they call a "conduit model". The conduit model is based on message transmission metaphor, where the interpretation of messages is unproblematic. Boland and Tenkasi suggest another model based on Wittgensteinian language- games. For this model they introduce the concepts of communities of knowledge, and perspective making and taking. A community of knowing is a group of specialized knowledge workers dealing with a part of an overall organizational problem, and in doing so, involved in their own language-game.

Perspective making is a process, where a community of knowing clarifies and strengthtens its understanding of the problem at hand and its ability to deal with it. The knowledge of a community must be represented explicitly to be communicable, but, at the same time, the very process of perspective taking facilitates also better understanding of the distinct ways others will try to communicate. The knowledge must then be represented and made available to others in a way which preserves the uniqueness of a perspective, so that it can be incorporated in the perspective-taking process. Perspective taking means that communities of knowing actively take each other into account within their own language games and construct new games for interaction. Members of one community must "take another's perspective" -- be able to recognize different ways of knowing of others -- to appreciate, exchange, evaluate and integrate the knowledge represented from another perspective with that of their own.


3 A Framework for Perspective Making and Taking

This paper takes a first step to develop a simple categorization for contextual information to help perspective making and taking. The framework is based on the structure of activity in Activity Theory (see e.g. Nardi 1996). Activity Theory (AT for short) is but one of the many potential foundations for such categorization. For the purpose of this paper, however, AT seems to be a strong candidate: the very concept of activity has been constructed to help to contextualize human actions. Thus it can be assumed that the theory seriously attempts to consolidate the essential features of a context.

According to AT, cooperative work processes can be seen as work activities. The issue that distinguishes work activities from each other is the existence of a particular object. The concept of object contains not only the material to be cooperatively transformed in a process, but also the potentiality of the outcome to fill a certain need, a vision that motivates the whole cooperative effort.

Activities are realized in actions, combined into a process where the object is manipulated and transformed. The actions are performed by the community of actors, that has been organized according to the needs of manipulation and transformation of the object and resources available. Each of the stakeholders

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