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Talk on how to repair the digital divide among political factions. Suggested socio-technical pattern language for intelligent discourse. John C. Thomas

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  1. 1. John Charles Thomas, Problem Solving International San Diego, PPDD Workshop, 5/25/2017 Building Common Ground in a Wildly Webbed World: A Pattern Language Approach "In addition to digital divides due to differences in access and accessibility, we now face another divide in terms of basic views of reality. Convincing seldom works; manipulation can work but is unethical. Are there socio-technical patterns that can serve as respectful and productive guides to problem solving for people with common problems but different world-views? What can we learn from what has worked to bridge other digital divides when applied to this new one?"
  2. 2. The Doubled Down Digital Divisive Divide ❖ Society is much more differentiated than when language and customs evolved. ❖ Society is in a hurry even though finding common ground is even harder. ❖ Hence, people often begin by focusing on differences in order to “resolve” things quickly. We have more opportunities for communication than ever before; and more miscommunication.
  3. 3. Instead… ❖ Begin with finding fundamental common ground: ❖ Family ❖ Food ❖ Fun ❖ Physical Tasks Requiring Many Hands
  4. 4. Pattern: Greater Gathering ❖ In companies (or societies), people naturally differentiate and come to have “sub-communities” ❖ On periodic or special occasions such as holidays, weddings, graduations, post-competition dinners, come together in a greater gathering. ❖ Examples: Company picnic, Mardi Gras, Caroling, etc.
  5. 5. Pattern Languages ❖ Concept initiated by Christopher Alexander for Architecture and City Planning ❖ A “Pattern” (as used here) refers to the named general solution to a recurring problem. ❖ (Complete) “Patterns” include a title suggesting solution, statement of the problem, opposing forces, an outline of a solution, links to other patterns, diagram, evocative picture, etc. ❖ A “Pattern Language” is a network of such Patterns that cover at least a substantial portion of the problems commonly encountered in a domain ❖ Since adopted to many domains; e.g., ❖ Object-Oriented Programming ❖ Organizational Change ❖ Human-Computer Interaction/User Experience ❖ Pedagogy
  6. 6. Some Socio-Technical Patterns Relevant to the “Digital Divide” ❖ “Who Speaks for Wolf?” ❖ Reality Check ❖ Small Successes Early ❖ Bohm Dialogue ❖ Elicit from Cultural Diversity ❖ Narrative Insight Method ❖ Greater Gathering ❖ Begin at Common Roots
  7. 7. ❖ Who Speaks for Wolf? ❖ Based on Native American Story. ❖ Encourages that all stakeholders & perspectives be consulted early. ❖ NYNEX counter-example: Voice Intercept Project (first use of speech recognition in public network). ❖ Initially, Central Office Managers not consulted. ❖ Copied Format from AT&T ❖ Lawyers didn’t like that… Thomas, J.C., Lee, A., & Danis, C (2002). “Who Speaks for Wolf?” IBM Research Report, RC-22644. Yorktown Heights, NY: IBM Corporation.
  8. 8. Who Speaks for Wolf? *Synonyms: Engage all the Stakeholders * Abstract: A lot of effort and thought goes into decision making and design. Nonetheless, it is often the case that bad decisions are made and bad designs conceived and implemented primarily because some critical and relevant perspective has not been brought to bear. This is especially often true if the relevant perspective is that of a stakeholder in the outcome. Make sure that every relevant stakeholder’s perspective is brought to bear early. * Problem: Problem solving or design that proceeds down the wrong path can be costly or impossible to correct later. As the inconvenience and cost of a major change in direction mount, cognitive dissonance makes it somewhat likely that the new information will be ignored or devalued so that continuance along the wrong path is likely. * Context: Complex problems such as the construction of new social institutions or the design of complex interactive systems require that a multitude of viewpoints be brought to bear. Unfortunately, this is all too often not the case. One group builds a "solution" for another group without fulling understanding the culture, the user needs, the extreme cases, and so on. The result is often a "system" whether technical or social, that creates as many problems as it solves.
  9. 9. Who Speaks for Wolf? * Forces: + Gaps in requirements are most cheaply repaired early in development; it is important for this and for reasons of acceptance (as well as ethics!) by all parties that all stakeholders have a say throughout any development or change process. + Logistical difficulties make the representation of all stakeholder groups at every meeting difficult. + A new social institution or design will be both better in quality and more easily accepted if all relevant parties have input. Once a wrong path is chosen, both social forces and individual cognitive dissonance make it difficult to begin over, change direction or retrace steps. * Solution: + Provide automated reminding of stakeholders who are not present. These could be procedural (certain Native Americans always ask, "Who Speaks for Wolf" to remind them) or visual or auditory with technological support. * Examples: + In “A behavioral analysis of the Hobbit-Orcs problem”, people find it difficult to solve a simple puzzle because it appears that they must “undo” progress that has already been made. + As a positive case, some groups make it a practice to “check in” at the beginning of any meeting to see whether any group members have an issue that they would like to have discussed. In “User Centered Design”, and “Contextual Design” methodologies, an attempt is made to get input from the intended users of the system early on in the design process.
  10. 10. Who Speaks for Wolf? * Resulting Context: When every stakeholder’s views are taken into account, the solution will be improved in quality and in addition, there will be less resistance to implementing the solution. * Rationale & Elaboration: Much of the failure of "process re-engineering" can be attributed to the fact that "models" of the "is" process were developed based on some executive's notion of how things were done rather than a study of how they were actually done or asking the people who actually did the work how they were done. A "should be" process was designed to be a more efficient version of the "is" process and then implementation was pushed down on workers. However, since the original "is" model was not based on reality, the "more efficient" solution often left out vital elements. Technological and sociological "imperialism" provide many additional examples where the input of all the stakeholders is not taken into account. Of course, much of the history of the US government's treatment of the Native Americans was an avoidance of truly including all the stakeholders. A challenge in applying the "Who Speaks for Wolf" pattern is to judge honestly and correctly whether, indeed, someone does have the knowledge and delegation to "speak for Wolf." If such a person is not present, we may do well to put off design or decision until such a person, or better, "Wolf" can be present. * Related Patterns: Radical Co-location (Provided all stakeholders are present in the radical co-location, this tends to insure that their input will be given at appropriate times). * Known Uses: As a variant of this, a prototype creativity tool has been created. The idea is to have a "board of directors" consisting of famous people. When you have a problem to solve, you are supposed to be reminded of, and think about, how various people would approach this problem. Ask yourself, "What would Einstein have said?" "How would Gandhi have approached this problem?" And so on.
  11. 11. ❖ Reality Check ❖ Fast programmers are good programmers. If you measure KLOCs, you will get KLOCs. ❖ NYNEX: Math models for growth in phone lines failed to account for faxes & then Internet. Lost 10’s of millions of dollars. ❖ Oil Company’s math models showed growth in demand. It took six years to revise models in 1970’s “energy crisis.” Lost 10’s of billions of dollars. ❖ Putting on wet greens at The Masters; the down-side of skill: self-reinforcement occurs before the reality check.
  12. 12. ❖ Small Successes Early * Abstract: Some problems require large teams of relative strangers to work together cooperatively in order to solve the overall problem. Yet, people generally take time to learn to trust one another as well as to learn another's strengths and weaknesses and preferred styles. Plunging a large group of strangers immediately into a complex task often results in non-productive jockeying for position, failure, blaming, finger-pointing, etc. Therefore, insure that the team or community first undertakes a task that is likely to bring some small success before engaging in a complex effort. * Context: A complex undertaking requires the interaction of many people with various backgrounds, skills, and temperaments. Often, whether in an industrial setting or a community building effort, many of these people have not worked together before. The group wants to get started and wants to be successful. Although their diversity is a potential source of strength, at first, there is likely to be natural confusion about how to proceed because people will have different experiences about the best way to organize and proceed. We don’t expect children to be instant experts. Why should we expect new groups to be? * Forces: + Problems are often too complex for all aspects to be addressed simultaneously. + If a problem is understood, it is logically better to deal with the hardest constraints first. + The structure of complex problems often becomes more clear as one tries to solve the problem. + A part of any complex problem solving process requiring more than one person is the interaction and relationship among the people. + People in a new team need to learn about each other's skills, working styles, and trustworthiness. + When people get frustrated because of non-success, they tend to blame each other. + As people work toward a goal, the goal tends to become viewed as more valuable and therefore people are willing to work harder to reach it.
  13. 13. Small Successes Early * Solution: Therefore, when bringing new teams or organizations together, it is useful to begin with a small success. In this way, people begin to learn about each other and trust each other. People learn more about the nature of the problem domain. This makes tackling more difficult problems later relatively easier. * Example: At the kick-off to a new software development project, rather than having the people be invited to "attend" an event that is "thrown" for them, encourage them to organize a party, cook-out, pot-luck, song-fest, or storytelling event among themselves. In the process of organizing and carrying out this activity, they will learn about each other's styles, learn about the trustworthiness of others, and be encouraged by having a success. Alternatively, the team might simply work on an aspect of the problem to be solved, provided it is something fairly clear that will result in "success" quickly. For instance, the team might initially work profitably on a short presentation about the project, a poster, or a scenario but not immediately jump into working on a systems design or a requirements document. * Rationale: As people experience team success, they tend to view the others in the team more positively. Teamwork is often hard under the best of circumstances. In highly complex problems, when people come together from different cultures, backgrounds, or agendas, it often becomes so difficult as to seem impossible. Rather than having people simultaneously attempt to solve a complex problem AND at the same time learn to work together as a team, it is often more effective to separate the otherwise tangled problems. First, have the people solve a tractable problem where it is clear that they have a common agenda. A successful experience working together to solve that simple problem will help people learn each other's styles, strengths, weaknesses and so on. With this knowledge and trust, they can now move on to try to solve more difficult problems. The human factors psychologist James Welford was called in as a consultant to deal with what appeared to be a very large age effect. People over 35 were having a tremendous difficulty learning new hand weaves. The difficulty, as Welford discovered, was in two tangled problems. On the one hand, it was hard to see the actual threads and second, it was hard to learn the patterns. What Welford did was introduce a short training segment with very large, quite visible cords. Once people had mastered that, they were transferred to the much smaller production size. This eliminated the "age effect" and in fact, both older and younger people learned much more effectively and efficiently. In similar fashion, we argue that trying to solve a complex problem with virtual strangers, especially when there is reason to believe there may be a difference in agendas, is a "tangled problem." Untangling the getting to know people from the complex task will help insure ultimate success. Some care should be given to the task and setting. The "small successes early" task should allow some degree of give and take, some opportunity for expressive, not just instrumental communication. People should have the opportunity and space for doing something creative, for sharing stories, for physical interaction. Inspired from examples in Peopleware.
  14. 14. ❖ Bohm Dialogue ❖ David Bohm: quantum physicist who became interested in human communication. ❖ Rather than typical business meeting in which one person talks and everyone else tries to decide asap if they are “pro” or “con” and then begins rehearsing their support or opposition speech, people first listen and then reflect before responding. Response need not be pro or con; could be question or observation. ❖ Group tries collectively to develop shared meaning around a topic. Work together to build meaning
  15. 15. ❖ Solicit from Diversity
  16. 16. ❖ Narrative Insight Method ❖ Stories speak to the “edges” of human experience. ❖ Suggest to group of 10-20 that stories naturally emerge during talk about a problem. ❖ Provide refreshments/gifts up front. ❖ Divide into groups of 3-4. ❖ Have people share relevant stories. ❖ Each sub-group choses “best” story to share with larger group. ❖ Continue to talk for remainder of hour. ❖ Record each story. ❖ Ask people to send in any additional thoughts on the subject later. ❖ This was used to develop “Valuable Patent Tool” for IBM Research.
  17. 17. Context: A group of people has been attempting to accomplish some task as effectively and efficiently as possible. In order to do this, one common method is to breakdown a large, complex task into smaller, less complex tasks. Often, those people working on a subtask naturally spend more time with others on that subtask than on other subtasks. It naturally occurs in this context that since people spend a lot of time together, they may develop common interests and also spend leisure time together as well. Sharing common sub-goals, physical contexts, and leisure activities as well as working on the same subtasks may eventually lead to an “in-group” feeling. Problem: People in the “in-group” may begin to limit their learning because of a lack of diversity in perspective. Furthermore, they may come to work so hard to solve their own sub-problem that they lose sight of the larger problem and make sub-optimizing decisions. Forces: · People working on a common problem often bond as well. · People working on a common sub-problem often lose sight of the larger problem. · Social sanctions can lead to a lack of diversity of perspectives. · All people share certain basic drives. · Shared special events help build social bonds. · People enjoy novel experiences and viewpoints. · An expectation of what happens (based on story and experience) can help mold what does happen. Solution: All the sub-groups that need to cooperate in a larger group should get together periodically for a “Greater Gathering.” This should be periodic and structured. Activities need to be formulated that help everyone visualize and experience common ground. Eating, drinking, dancing, singing, athletic contests, and other physical activities should also be included since these are experiences people will relate to and enjoy regardless of which sub-group they belong to or which sub-problem they are working on. Examples: Company picnics. Company sponsored sporting events. Boy Scout Jamborees. CHI Conferences. Family reunions. Early IBM yearly 100 % club meetings. Greater Gathering
  18. 18. Begin at Common Roots ❖ The “Family Tree” of humanity evolved “together”for more than 4 billion years. ❖ Most of the “Family Tree” shares common goals: staying alive, finding water & nourishment; reproducing. ❖ Much of the “Tree” shares love of family, play, cooperation, competition, communication. ❖ Rather than initially and immediately focus on “understanding and resolving” differences or finding compromises among positions…instead, ❖ Understand and celebrate common ground first; explore that and work together to develop stories of other possible paths. Develop fiction together.
  19. 19. References* Thomas, J. (2015). Chaos, Culture, Conflict and Creativity: Toward a Maturity Model for HCI4D. Invited keynote @ASEAN Symposium, Seoul, South Korea, April 19, 2015. * Pan, Y., Roedl, D., Blevis, E., & Thomas, J. (2015). Fashion Thinking: Fashion Practices and Sustainable Interaction Design. International Journal of Design, 9(1), 53-66. * Thomas, J. (2014). Mobile Systems for Computational Social Science: A Perfect Storm. Invited keynote address at UbiComp workshop, Sept. 13, 2014, Seattle, WA. * Srivastava, S., Rajput, N, Dhanesha, K., Basson, S., and Thomas, J. (2013). Community-oriented spoken web browser for low literate users. CSCW, San Antonio, TX, 2013. * Pan, Y., Roedl, D., Blevis, E. and Thomas, J. (2012). Re-conceptualizing Fashion in Sustainable HCI. Designing Interactive Systems conference. New Castle, UK, June 2012. * Thomas, J. C. (2012). Patterns for emergent global intelligence. In Creativity and Rationale: Enhancing Human Experience By Design J. Carroll (Ed.), New York: Springer. * Thomas, J. C. & Richards, J. T. (2012). Achieving psychological simplicity: Measures and methods to reduce cognitive complexity. In The Human-Computer Interaction Handbook. J. Jacko (Ed.) Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. * Thomas, J. C., Kellogg, W.A., and Erickson, T. (2001) The Knowledge Management puzzle: Human and social factors in knowledge management. IBM Systems Journal, 40(4), 863-884. * Schuler, Doug. (2008). Liberating Voices: A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution. MIT Press: Cambridge. * Alexander, C. et. al. (1977). A Pattern Language. Oxford University Press: New York. * DeMarco, T. & Lister, T. (1987). Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. Dorset: New York.
  20. 20. References (Cont.) *Thomas, J. C. (2001). An HCI Agenda for the Next Millennium: Emergent Global Intelligence. In R. Earnshaw, R. Guedj, A. van Dam, and J. Vince (Eds.), Frontiers of human-centered computing, online communities, and virtual environments. London: Springer-Verlag. *Thomas, J. C. (1999) Narrative technology and the new millennium. Knowledge Management Journal, 2(9), 14-17. *Thomas, J.C. and Kellogg, W.A. (1989). Minimizing ecological gaps in interface design, IEEE Software, January 1989. * Branscomb, L. and Thomas, J. (1984). Ease of use: A system design challenge. IBM Systems Journal, 23 (3), pp. 224-235. * Thomas, J.C. (1983). Psychological issues in the design of data-base query languages. In M. Sime and M. Fitter (Eds.), Designing for human-computer communication.. London: Academic Press. * Underwood, Paula. Who speaks for Wolf: A Native American Learning Story. Georgetown TX (now San Anselmo, CA): A Tribe of Two Press, 1983. * Thomas, J.C. and Carroll, J. (1981). Human factors in communication. IBM Systems Journal, 20 (2), pp. 237-263.Malhotra, A., Thomas, J.C. and Miller, L. (1980). Cognitive processes in design. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 12, pp. 119-140. * Carroll, J., Thomas, J.C. and Malhotra, A. (1980). Presentation and representation in design problem solving. British Journal of Psychology/,71 (1), pp. 143-155 . * Carroll, J., Thomas, J.C. and Malhotra, A. (1979). A clinical-experimental analysis of design problem solving. Design Studies, 1 (2), pp. 84-92. * Thomas, J.C. (1978). A design-interpretation analysis of natural English. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies, 10, pp. 651-668. * Thomas, J.C. and Carroll, J. (1978). The psychological study of design. Design Studies, 1 (1), pp. 5-11. * Bohm, D. (2004). On Dialogue. Routledge.

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