Spaces within Spaces The Construction of a Collaborative Reality

University dissertation from Kista : Institutionen för data- och systemvetenskap (tills m KTH)

Abstract: This thesis is about collaborative activities in interactive spaces. These spaces are characterized by having shared, large displays in combination with private displays and software tools that facilitate a fluent sharing of information between people and their resources. The aim is to understand the collaborative activities in interactive spaces in terms of how team members are allowed to contribute to the overall work and what influence the physical qualities of space have on the collaboration. The research questions focus on the ways team members come to contribute to the work, how roles and functions are handled during collaboration, and how the physical qualities of the space influence the collaborative activities. To investigate these issues two empirical studies were conducted. The first study focused on two student teams that carried out conceptual design activities. The second study focused on geographically distributed meetings of an international research network. Data was mainly collected using video recordings, observations and questionnaires. The analyses are primarily based on detailed investigations of video recordings. The results showed in the first study that the large, touch-sensitive displays made it possible for the team members to interact and contribute to the work in several ways, which led to more equalized roles. In the second study the setting was more complex; the use of both video- and audio conferences made it difficult for the team members to overview the situation and to take part in the conversations, and their roles became more accentuated. It was further found that the physical- and the social space were intertwined: they appeared as spaces within spaces. The team members were also in a concrete sense constructing spaces within spaces: they created their own spaces in the common space and they often made transitions between shared and private, focal and peripheral work.