Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Wikimedia as a CSCW, and how its transparency influenced group performance

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Input – Diversity[edit]

The personnel of Wikimedia is definitely diversified, with inputs from everywhere and anytime. The diversity made aggregation. Furthermore, the input was made in a real-time manner, so the content has the flexibility of relentless evolution and expansion.

McGrath's Task[edit]

More interestingly, taking McGrath’s model view, the Wikibook’s group-task seems a little bit different from conventional on/offline media. Before Wikimedia comes, the online-typed CSCW formats were mainly consisted of Q&A sessions, in a form of online forum or communities. Wikimedia builds the task more aggressively, not stopping problem-solving, it sets the task of “planning” a book. Carroll discussed in the book that groups perform better than single individuals under “planning” task. Thus, Wiki format works better for cooperation.

File:Classification of Group tasks (McGrath, 1983).png
Classification of Group tasks (McGrath, 1983)

Source of Origin - Transparency[edit]

Another interesting feature of Wikibook is that it completely separated communication into a book (output) and discussion (process). Also, even though it opens free editing without restriction, the source of origin clearly managed with history. I think the emphasis on transparency is very interesting; historically, online media has been notorious for being unanimous; this is completely opposite. I think this unusual transparency prevents “social loafing” at a certain point. Individual’s contribution or mass-ups are all tracked and opened to the public so that there’s no chance that the output being pooled with other group members. On the other hand, this transparency might deter the active participation with “social pressure”. The user might fear being aggressive on writing or editing content to avoid being silly when it turns out completely wrong information and the source of origin is apparent.