This collection started life as an idea for a symposium at the Society for Research in Child Development in New Orleans, 1993. The idea for the symposium had been to present some of the work that contemporary researchers were conducting in the area of joint attention. The notion that human experience is grounded in its shared nature is one whose significance has long been recognized, and joint attention is a topic that has been on the agenda for developmental psychologists for several years. However, research on joint attention has typically been discussed in isolated subcommunities. The SRCD symposium was supposed to be a first step in bringing together some of these lines of research. In selecting contributors, it quickly became clear that quite a large number of individuals had equally legitimate claims on representation, and that although research on joint attention was spreading in new directions, it was also starting to cohere in an exciting way. A book compiling more of these lines than could be represented in a single symposium seemed the right next step. We therefore explored the potential territory and selected a number of individuals and groups representing the primary domains of interest. It is significant, we believe, that everyone we approached agreed that the project was extremely timely and agreed to participate, in some cases in the face of considerable competing obligations. We are very grateful to the contributors for their promptness.
After the first drafts of the chapters had been collected, Amy Pierce, then our editor at Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, suggested that a foreword might enhance the structure of the book. No one has played a more important role in bringing to our joint attention the shared nature of human experience than