Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/A Turn to the Social
Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) can be studied from many angles. In Chapter 8 of his book, Carrol discusses it from the angle of Distributed Cognition (DCog), specifically Socially Distributed Cognition, which attempts to describe group activity in a way similar to how Cognitive Science describes an individual’s cognition. He also discusses, though briefly, that study of DCog has led to a turn to the social, or an attempt to describe this distributed form of cognition using the social sciences. By using both social and cognitive sciences, we can begin to understand how a shared editing platform, like a Wiki, can be used to help
Social and Cognitive Come Together
The article “The social and the cognitive in human-computer interaction” discusses the intersection of Social and Cognitive sciences and how they can be used to describe human-computer interaction. Social Science gives researches a way to collect information on the social process of collecting, creating, sharing, and modifying shared knowledge, which can be thought of as being created by a social mind. The article then describes that these methods could also fall under the Cognitive Sciences as they describe, represent, analyze, organize, and transmit shared data, all of which are cognitive and can be used the bridge the gap between Cognitive Science and HCI via Social Science methodologies.
Applying this to Wikis
As mentioned above, Social and Cognitive sciences can be used to describe how groups of people come together to create and share knowledge. A good platform to support this work is a Wiki, which give distributed users the ability to create and edit articles. Individuals enhancing the articles with their own personal expertise so the knowledge as a whole can grow and the shared knowledge becomes much greater than the sum of each individual’s knowledge. The shared platform allows a diverse set of users to participate in this shared knowledge. The diversity is not only in the knowledge of the users, but their own individual cultural views and thoughts on the knowledge, which leads to different views which can make the knowledge far more robust. This diversity could not be found in face-to-face knowledge sharing as it would be incredibly difficult to get all of the people who can participate in a Wiki together in a face-to-face environment due to the distances between them. The article on turning to the social did bring up one downfall to group work: the difficulty in tracking changes by the group. In a group work environment such as a Wiki, users can (for the most part) change anything they wish, so change tracking is crucial so people’s contributions are not wiped out. Most Wiki platforms keep track of changes, so unintentional or malicious changes can be undone. People that contribute to Wikis are also very good at reviewing and editing the changes made. They will also do their best to follow up on any new information that is added to make sure it is accurate, going so far as to remove data that is not sufficiently cited to a point that it can be verified. This group self-auditing can be seen as another form of the ‘’social mind’’ referenced in the article
We need to use the methodologies discussed above to decide if the benefits of Wikis outweigh their detriments. A Wiki is only as good as individuals who are maintaining it. If they follow a set of standards for the knowledge that is allowed on the Wiki, and the level of support each individual needs to give for their contributions (how and what they cite to support their additions) and keep track of all changes; a Wiki can be a very powerful and beneficial tool that gives diverse groups of individuals the ability to come together and create a body of shared knowledge that is greater than any of them could create alone and, by applying both Social and Cognitive science methodologies, HCI experts can design interfaces to support this community.
- Carroll, J. M. (Ed.). (2003). HCI models, theories, and frameworks: Toward a multidisciplinary science. Morgan Kaufmann.
- Anderson, R. J., Heath, C. C., Luff, P., & Moran, T. P. (1993). The social and the cognitive in human-computer interaction. International journal of man-machine studies, 38(6), 999-1016