Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Gregory D. Wilson
Anthony M. Townsend
This dissertation examines how a user experience team at a multinational corporation transforms a collection of software applications into a socially usable collaborative ecology. Collaborative ecologies are sociocultural systems that consist of persons, activities, tools, and ideas that are mutually constructive. The metaphor of ecology, which has emerged in the disciplines of human computer interaction, computer supported cooperative work, and rhetoric and professional communication, informs an ethnographic inquiry that includes seven months of daily immersion and ten hours of qualitative interviews. Drawing on a diverse reading of interdisciplinary theory, including traditional usability studies, genre theory, activity theory, and actor-network theory, the dissertation distills the construction of collaborative ecologies into three mechanisms: the selection of tools, the development of practices, and the mediation of ideas about those tools and practices. Applying selection, practice, and mediation in the context of the ethnographic study generates insights about the user experience team's activities, about the collaborative ecology that support them, and about how selection, practice, and mediation operate. These insights are useful for the design and facilitation of social and collaborative software systems because they suggest a way to understand the role that users, activities, tools, and ideas play in constructing their ecology.
Niedergeses, David, "Constructing collaborative ecologies: how selection, practice, and mediation assemble and shape social and collaborative software" (2012). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 12559.