Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Keeping the Conversation Going
A technology such as WikiBook lends itself to the creation of a medium that allows great input not only into the creation of content but also the manner in which that content is created and organized. In a pre-computer world dominated by board rooms and face-to-face meetings, it was simple to offer up information and work together as a group to compile information. The responses were immediate and actionable. As technology and electronic communication improved, however, the ability to isolate oneself and essentially work in a vacuum increased as well. The idea of Activity Theory does a great job of showing how the idea of WikiBook can continue the same effectiveness as dealing with each other in-person. This post will focus on three of the main points of Activity Theory:
Focus on Work Practice
When WikiBook was created, the emphasis was on specifically NOT telling users how to input content. Yes, there are very few strict rules about structure and some even looser rules regarding what is considered acceptable content, but generally, you can enter any type of information you want. The content is continually being reviewed for objectionable content, and certain ‘power users’ have the ability to reject parts or all of a user’s contribution.
Focus on Many Users
In direct contrast to a user blog, WikiBook welcomes content from multiple users. Programmers focus their energy on creating the best product and reviewing feedback to fit this unique niche. WikiBook, in this case, is the “mediator of human activity” and it is imperative the product be powerful and intuitive for the easiest possible use.
Focus on Active User Participation
As commented earlier, WikiBook has very loose guidelines regarding the creation of a page. A page can range from a very simple one- or two-sentence summary all the way up to a complex page loaded with pictures, audio clips, videos, and more. User are encouraged to learn the language and come up with their own ways of making their content educational and visually-appealing.
These three points come together to assist WikiBook in mimicking a face-to-face conversation very well. With the ability to add content and receive immediate feedback, WikiBook allows users from all over the world to interact as if they were in the same room.