Tuesday 12pm, 24 February 2015

Marlow photo

Designing for the future of collaboration

Jennifer Marlow

Research Scientist - FXPAL


Technology is increasingly enabling new forms of work to be done at a distance. In large-scale endeavors such as peer production and crowdsourcing, people collaborate with and build off the work of others, many of whom they have never met in person. The combination of social media features with online work environments has the potential to change the nature of work in many fields by increasing visibility of people’s actions and allowing people to learn from and assess others’ expertise. However, little is known about the psychological and behavioral impact of exposure to increased detail about unknown others in a peer production setting.
In this talk, I will describe a series of studies I have conducted looking at the impact of increased social transparency and the ability to view others’ activities on attitudes and behaviors towards strangers in an online peer production context. I will discuss findings from interviews with open source software project owners on GitHub to understand how they were using information to inform their impressions of unknown contributors. These initial insights then informed a series of experiments evaluating how activity trace design and visualization influence perceptions of others and reactions to their work.
I will also discuss recent work looking at another facet of remote collaboration in which we have been exploring how geographically distributed teams are using technology to share and create digital artifacts.


Jennifer Marlow is a Research Scientist at FX Palo Alto Laboratory, Inc. She recently received her PhD from Carnegie Mellon’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute. Her research focuses on social computing and computer-supported cooperative work. Specific interests include understanding how technology and social media facilitate online collaboration, learning, and professional development, and enable awareness and interaction across geographic and temporal distance.