Lowering Barriers to Distributed Design Research Collaboration

Year: 2009
Editor: Norell Bergendahl, M.; Grimheden, M.; Leifer, L.; Skogstad, P.; Lindemann, U.
Author: Sirkin, David Michael; Sonalkar, Neeraj; Jung, Malte; Leifer, Larry John
Section: Human Behavior in Design
Page(s): 279-286


This paper presents experiments that were undertaken at the Stanford Center for Design Research to enable remote participants to engage in weekly design research gatherings. The context of these sessions had a number of individual participants at multiple locations and a large group at Stanford where the sessions were held ? an interaction we term 1-to-1-to-many. Each session varied between 3 major categories of exchange: informal socializing, formal presentations and dynamic Q&A dialog. This tested current video conferencing technology to its limits and necessitated exploratory prototyping to address issues of social and content-rich interaction between remote and local participants. We found (1) that providing a communication channel for the remote participants to talk amongst themselves helped to create a strong sense of community distinct from that of the larger group, (2) that aggregating the representations of remote participants to a single shared display diminished the sense of each individual's persona, but disaggregating them without sufficient supporting technology led to a perception of disembodiment, and (3) that these effects were magnified during informal exchanges.

Keywords: Communication Technologies, Virtual Organizations, Distributed Communities, Informal Interaction, Remote Collaboration


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