The Distributed Work of Local Action: Interaction amongst virtually collocated research teams
Existing research on synchronous remote working in CSCW has highlighted the troubles that can arise because actions at one site are (partially) unavailable to remote colleagues. Such ‘local action’ is routinely characterised as a nuisance, a distraction, subordinate and the like. This paper explores interconnections between ‘local action’ and ‘distributed work’ in the case of a research team virtually collocated through ‘MiMeG’. MiMeG is an e-Social Science tool that facilitates ‘distributed data sessions’ in which social scientists are able to remotely collaborate on the real-time analysis of video data. The data are visible and controllable in a shared workspace and participants are additionally connected via audio conferencing. The findings reveal that whilst the (partial) unavailability of local action is at times problematic, it is also used as a resource for coordinating work. The paper considers how local action is interactionally managed in distributed data sessions and concludes by outlining implications of the analysis for the design and study of technologies to support group-to-group collaboration.