Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Working hard (or hardly working) in a collective wiki effort

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Working hard (or hardly working) in a collective wiki effort (Cindy Marinak)[edit]

WikiBook’s support of distributed users and ability to externalize representation (Carroll, 2003) effectively provides "transparency" of a collaborative computer-mediated interface in enabling human(s)-human(s) interaction. However, motivation to contribute may be deterred based on a set of factors related to Karau and Williams’ theory of collective effort.

The theory of collective effort highlights two motivational problems, social loafing and social pressure. According to HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks, social loafing is a phenomenon describing the degradation of individual productivity and contributions when working with a group. Social loafing may be reduced when contributions are identifiable. The downside of knowing the contributor’s identity is the potential for censorship and volume of shared data based on social pressure. (Carroll, 2003) How might the individual be judged by the group?

While social loafing and social pressure are potential deterrents, I believe knowing an individual’s contributions provides accountability; ideally, it promotes more balanced contributions from individual group members, particularly in environments where face-to-face context is not possible due to a team’s composition. For instance, many companies are comprised of offshore teams and/or remote employees. The distributed workforce (often across multiple time zones) requires additional ways of coordinating efforts and communicating shared ideas and processes. While these team members may have a window of time each day to exchange ideas via applications like WebEx or personal communicator, additional tools are necessary to support a productive environment.

When there is positive group synergy, team goals are clearly conveyed, and individuals are encouraged to contribute, wikis may provide a transparent and collaborative central location for communicating ideas and processes.


Works Cited Carroll, J. M. (2003). HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.