BOOTNAP: Criteria for Collaborative Task Domain Selection
We need to choose a task for two people to collaborate on through the
computer. The collaborators will have voice and/or text typing and/or
ability to point and draw and use diagrams, plus whatever
manipulations are needed (if any) specifically for the task. Some
desiderata for a good task are:
- Easy to get computer support for. Hopefully there is already
software to display and allow manipulation of whatever task-specific
elements are required (if any).
- Complexity. The task must be complex enough to generate
interesting discussion and collaboration. It shouldn't be something
so simple that one participant can easily just go off and solve it by
himself without any thought.
- Need for Planning. This is related to the previous
criterion, but more specific. The task should be something where
thinking about what to do (and therefore talking about it) can be
useful rather than just doing it.
- Potential for Misunderstanding. Since we are studying
grounding, there should be some potential for grounding to fail and
require repair. This is obviously related to the previous two
criteria, but we also want the discussion to have some points of
ambiguity where participants could have different ideas of what is
being said/referred to/ etc.
- Graphical Dimension. The participants should be able to
manipulate something. Either the solution itself or the process of
arriving at it should be representable in a graphical form. On the
other hand, we'd prefer not to have something that absolutely requires
graphical representation if we are going to examine how grounding is
affected by diagrams.
- Formalizability. The final phase of the project is to
actually design a computational system to be one of the collaborators,
using protocols discovered from the first phases. Thus, we need to
pick a task that's not too "fuzzy", so that a computer collaborator
would have a chance at somewhat normal interaction.
- Feedback. It should be possible to run something,
or test the solution that is arrived at, so participants can be
satisfied that they've actually solved the problem successfully.
- Reality. The task should preferably be something fairly
natural - that people might actually do and find useful, rather than a
very artificial task that seems less like communicating over the
computer and more like doing some weird computer thing.
- Fun. The task should be somewhat enjoyable, so
collaborating seems more like fun, than just a difficult or boring
chore that will lead to unnatural reactions from subjects.
- Joint goals. We want this to be a true collaboration
rather than a competition. Though we might allow different initial
knowledge to help "force" interaction, we want there to be one joint
goal for both participants rather than (even partially) competing
goals which would lead more to negotiation than collaboration.
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