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Reconsidering Clark’s Theory in CSCW

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ACM Press


The use of Herbert Clark’s work as a theoretical framework in the Computer Supported Collaborative Work domain is often dismissed or judged as “cooked” and led to a large body of controversy. This article intends to reconsider his contribution and re-examined the criticisms he received. The main critics addressed to Clark are that his notion of Common Ground is far too mentalist and lacks “situatedness”. We argue that most of these criticisms stem from the verbal conversational aspects of Clark’s theory. We sustain here the idea that his broader model of the “joint action” provides a fruitful ground for research in CSCW. Through one case study of our research, we indeed show how what Clark defines as “Common Ground “could be interpreted in a situated context. The discussion also addresses how this model can serve as a design framework.


Nova, Nicolas; Sangin, Mirweis; Dillenbourg, Pierre (2008): Reconsidering Clark’s Theory in CSCW. From CSCW to Web 2.0: European Developments in Collaborative Design Selected Papers from COOP08. ACM Press. pp. 132-143. Full Papers. Carry-le-Rouet, France. 2008-05-20