Technology Scaffolds Supporting Compromise in a Multivariate Problem Space
thesisposted on 17.02.2017, 00:00 by Joey T Rene Shelley
Compromise is a unique form of collaboration, where participants have fundamentally different values that are in conflict, but where they nonetheless seek a mutually acceptable solution. What differentiates compromise from bargaining, a well-addressed activity in the existing Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) research, is that all participants have a vested interest in seeing each other’s concerns satisfied. This distinction has major implications for how to design software supports for compromise. Although two subfields of HCI explicitly study how software can be structured to support collaboration—Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL) and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)—much of the existing research is built upon assumptions that do not parallel the underlying theories of compromise. In the CSCL domain, learning is often assumed to be accomplished when participants’ understandings converge into a shared mutual understanding, and much of CSCW research assumes that participants have a shared goal. Compromise fundamentally differs from these understandings of collaboration in that each participant’s individual goals and preferences remain salient throughout the process. Thus, I claim that the software supports described in the literature do not sufficiently support compromise. This work addresses how designing with the goal of supporting compromise differs from designing for collaboration, and what specific design recommendations and technological scaffolds are generated when designing with compromise in mind. To this end, I use the literature around compromise to propose guidelines for the design of technology scaffolds for supporting compromise, and distinguish them from existing CSCL/CSCW scaffolds. Refining the sociocultural concept of the Zone of Proximal Development, I introduce the Zone of Proximal Interest (ZPI) to explain how users may, with scaffolding, grow to consider other’s interests as part of their key decision-making processes. A design-based research methodology was used to examine how the theory-driven scaffolding design strategies can be applied an urban planning context, supporting the compromise tasks of evaluating proposals for desirability at both individual and group levels and developing mutually acceptable proposals. Through this research, the ZPI scaffolds developed were shown to support participants as they evaluated and constructed compromise solutions.