Collaborative computing/Mutual Awareness

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As a high level definition, Mutual Awareness is a practice - neither a state nor a technique, Mutual Awareness is about making other attendees in any kind of cooperation aware of the activities of other group members and the overall progress of the group. Hence, a practice.

As a concept, different texts and theorists deal with the term in different ways. In the texts we have been focusing on in this course, we see e.g. differences between how the concept is being defined and contextualized in the conceptual text of Schmidt (2002) versus the operational text of Dourish and Bellotti (1992). While Schmidt aims to discuss nuances of the term, and in which forms of group work you can still talk about Mutual Awareness (in contrast to e.g. articulation work of second order), Dourish and Bellotti are aiming to operationalize the concept in four specific case studies, all exploiting different techniques and mechanisms to make group members aware of each other's contributions in a team work.

There is, however, to a certain extent a common core understanding of the concept in the two above mentioned texts, as well as in Bardram & Hansen (2010). All of these agree that the overall purpose of Mutual Awareness, and with that, that purpose of the mecahnisms by which you create Mutual Awareness, is to allow individuals to adapt their work to the group's, and to integrate their activities with the group activites, while causing the lowest possible level of 'disturbance' to others. This facilitates alignment of the group - i.e. Mutual Awarenss is in many ways a vital part of cooperation or even a prerequisite of a smooth cooperation.