Physical versus Digital Sticky Notes in Collaborative Ideation
In this paper, we compare the use of physical and digital sticky notes in collaborative ideation. Inspired by a case study in a design company, we focus on a collaborative ideation task, which is often part of pair-wise brainstorming in design. For comparison and to focus on the different materiality, we developed a digital sticky notes setup designed to be as close to the physical setup as possible, not adding any advanced digital features, even though technology has reached a stage where more sophisticated use of digital sticky notes on digital boards is possible. In this paper, we present a study of ideation among pairs of experienced sticky note users. The ideation sessions were video recorded and analyzed to focus on how collaboration is supported across the two setups. Based on quantitative analyses of the participants’ interactions with the artefacts, talking patterns, position and attention during the sessions, we qualify how the differences and similarities between the two setups have an impact on note handling, ideation techniques, group dynamics and socio-spatial configuration, e.g. the use of the room, the boards and tables. We conclude that, while the physical setup seems more appropriate for creating notes and posting notes, the digital setup invites more note interaction. Nevertheless, we did not find significant differences in the ideation outcome (e.g., number of notes created) or how participants collaborated between the two setups. Hence, we argue that collaborative ideation can successfully be supported in a digital setup as well. Consequently, we believe that the next step in a technological setup is not an either or, but should bring the best of the two worlds together.