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UX Week 2006: Facilitating Collaboration Notes

Ryan Freitas, Adaptive Path

Isn't it enough to set up basecamp? Nope, coordination isn't collaboration. Collaboration is about fostering ideas, intentions, and interests.

What we actually use to collaborate: email, secret IM name, mobile number, del.icio.us tags, blog, bloglines OPML, IM status, flicker, twttr.

All of these are about attenuation, status, and communication. All are from implicit and explicit. "Governance Architecture": a system for using simple tools that are better than monolithic solutions. A toolbox: each one is used for a particular task. An agreed-on framework.

Overcoming: out of the office, slow decision-making, email overload, "where'd we put that?", lack of alignment. Don't repeat efforts or have miscommunication--coming out of left field. Attending to others' thoughts, what I'm thinking about right now.

What's wrong with email-based collaboration? We're trying to do too much with a platform that is already overlaoded. Can't use a highly structured platform to capture highly unstructured activities.

Moving past the "Swiss Army Knife" of top-down solutions. Lightweight tools, not NO tools. If you avoid tools all together, there's no record of the conversation.

Need tools that facilitate distributed and autonomous collaboration. Lots of tools are available, but you need to experiment and play with them to evaluate them. Evaluate for appropriateness (does it work in this situation), commonality (is it something we can all access--can't be lightweight if its hard to set up), centralization (do we need all the features of this thing?), portability (can I get things in and out of it? control of the things you created), uptake (how quickly can we all share and use this?).

Styles of Collaborative Tools
Status: are people available? What are you up to? Status is more than location. SMS and IM don't need encouragement. Encourage narcissism. Real-time editing: email wasn't built for version control. Make and show changes in real-time. Show the value in order to gain adoption.
Attenuation: Collaborating by being aware. "Visible trails" that show common interests and are persistent. Not just what you're interested in, but why you are interested in it and the ideation behind it. You have an understanding before a deliverable is created.
Visualization: Instant set-up is crucial. Screensharing is more useful than seeing someone's face. Don't try these out when you really need it.

Wikipedia: All visitors can edit, create new articles, collaboration among users will improve articles. But don't replicate Wikipedia's bureaucracy!

Wikis can break the bottleneck of information. Centralized place for information that can replace intranets. Let people use it in the manner they see fit. Adoption shouldn't be a goal in and of itself.

Originally posted at Wednesday, August 16, 2006 | Comments (0)

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