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J. Facilitating Communication Valued computing tools can enhance certain types of direct communication while opening up opportunities for more ambient and tangential signs and messages. Designing for such meaningful interchange requires a critical understanding of where and how people deem communication to be important. During application envisioning, product teams can map and explore their onscreen applications’ potential roles in current and desired communication scenarios. By taking time to think through different possibilities for interpersonal connectivity and mediated interchange, teams can uncover opportunities to tailor their functionality concepts to the conversational flows of knowledge work practice.


A knowledge worker’s involvement in an activity often begins and ends with communication. In between these two points, workers’ may also communicate extensively as part of the unfolding narratives of their actions. Product teams can easily overlook potential communication scenarios that are inherent to their sketched application concepts. These scenarios can present key opportunities to more fully tie a computing tool into the larger trajectories of knowledge work activities. Without sufficient consideration of these trajectories, onscreen products can easily become isolated islands of functionality that workers must effortfully incorporate into their existing communication methods. Given that workers may not appreciate application options that are somehow redundant with the communication channels that they are already using, product teams can envision useful methods of incorporating or connecting to targeted workers’ existing channels in meaningful ways. Beyond associations with existing channels, teams can also envision specialized functionality concepts to support well characterized communication needs, whether offline or onscreen. These functionalities might support existing practices or promote new ones, such as new forms of situated communication within an application’s own information locales, either in real time or asynchronously. This category contains 7 of the 100 application envisioning ideas in this book: J1. Integral communication pathways J2. Representational common ground J3. Explicit work handoffs J4. Authorship awareness, presence, and contact facilitation J5. Public annotation J6. Streamlined standard communications J7. Pervasive printing Product teams can use these ideas to explore functionality concepts that could support communication needs within the scope of knowledge work activities that they are targeting. Ideation focused on how a product could mediate existing and new forms of communication can help teams uncover innovative and genuinely valuable opportunities to more completely bridge cooperative and collaborative work practices. These bridging functions can offload certain communicative efforts and promote high comprehension experiences for workers exchanging information and thinking together. The central notion of this category is most closely related to the “Exploring work mediation and determining scope” (A), “Providing opportunities to offload effort” (E), “Enhancing information representation” (F), and “Clarifying central interactions” (G) categories.

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