Communities of interest

EXTERNAL AND SHAREABLE ARTIFACTS AS OPPORTUNITIES FOR SOCIAL CREATIVITY IN COMMUNITIES OF INTEREST
GERHARD FISCHER
Center for LifeLong Learning & Design (L3D)
Department of Computer Science and Institute of Cognitive Science University of Colorado

Abstract. Complex collaborative design activities cannot be solved by individuals or by a single group. Communities of interest (defined by their collective concern with the resolution of a problem) bring together several communities of practice that represent groups of practitioners from different domains. Reaching common understanding between these communities is a major challenge for information technologies due to the communication divide that exists between their respective cultures. Social creativity exploits the “symmetry of ignorance” to create new artifacts and new understanding in the context of framing and solving design problems. This paper develops a conceptual framework that emphasizes the critical importance of externalizations (specifically boundary objects) for social creativity in communities of interest. This framework has been used in our theory- guided system development efforts such as domain-oriented design environments, the Envisionment and Discovery Collaboratory, organizational memories, and course information environments. These socio-technical environments illustrate the need, the use, and the possibilities for creating design situations that can be understood and further evolved by all stakeholders.

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