Patterns Of Cooperative Interaction

This page provides links to the patterns arising out of the Patterns of Cooperative Interaction project. This project, situated at Lancaster, seeks to specifically address how similar findings from different ethnographic field studies of work and technology can be extracted from those studies and compared and contrasted. As ethnographers of some years experience we are aware that we see similar phenomena and practices arising from similar arrangements of work in different settings. Patterns are meant to be a way of making our knowledge of this more visible and accessible for a range of practitioners. Hopefully, this provides a new and more simple point of access to a range of studies and will serve to introduce the reader to some of the sensitivities we, as ethnographers, routinely consider.

On the surface patterns may appear to focus on the design of artefacts, work organisation or the arrangement of the workplace but of crucial importance is the perspective by which these are described. When we talk about artefact design, placement, interactional arrangements, workplace organisation or organisational role we are interested in (and in bringing to light) the manner in which workplace practices, interactions and actions are related to these in particular settings. For example do they facilitate particular forms of interaction, teamwork, supervision? How do they aid in structuring work, do they impede certain activities, do they need to be worked around? We believe that understanding work and activity in this way, as embodied in real places in real time, serves as a useful resource for the design and evaluation of technologies. Our Patterns our intended to serve as a introductory resource of material findings to introduce this perspective, topics and studies of interest and to indicate the potential design implications of such material.

In this website each pattern example has a front page which describes its 'essence', 'why useful?' (why we have highlighted it), 'where used?' (an basic introduction to the different sites/studies it has been reported in) and how implications for dependable design ('dependability implications') may be drawn from the pattern. In the 'where used?' section, the hypertext titles of each site/study can be clicked on to access specific individual vignettes (instantiations) from different studies. These describe in more particular detail how the pattern is instantiated in different settings. Each vignette is described according to five perspectives: Cooperative Arrangement, Representation of Activity, Ecological Arrangement, Coordination Techniques and Community of Use. These capture various details about who and what is involved in the activity, how it is represented, where it takes place, how layout is related to the activity, and the activities by which workers coordinate.

Current list of patterns:

Project Publications

1. Hughes, J., O'Brien, J., Rodden, T., Rouncefield, M. and Viller, S.(2000). Patterns of home life: informing design for domestic environments, Personal Technologies, 4 (1) : 25-38.

2. Martin, D., Rodden, T., Rouncefield, M., Sommerville, I. and Viller, S.(2001), Finding patterns in the fieldwork, In Proceedings of ECSCW'01, Bonn, Germany: Kluwer.

3. Martin, D., Rodden, T., Rouncefield, M., Sommerville, S. & Viller, S.(2001). Informing the RE Process with Patterns of Cooperative Interaction. CSEG Technical report

4. Martin, D., Rouncefield, M. & Sommerville, I. (2002). Applying Patterns of Cooperative Interaction To Work (Re)Design: E-Government and Planning.In Proceedings of CHI 2002. Minneapolis, Minnesota. Copyright ACM Press.

5. Martin, D., Rouncefield, M. & Sommerville, I. (Submitted to TOCHI journal) Ethnomethodology, Patterns and Systems Design.

Note: we intend to have all available on-line in PDF format soon but the first two publications are already available at:

Other Related Work On Patterns

Patterns are very much a hot topic in computer science at the moment and links and references to some of this work can be found on OtherWorkOnPatterns. We have also developed a set of patterns relating to cooperative work in a study of eXtreme Programming (XP). The site provides new vignette examples of patterns presented on this main site and also some new candidate patterns, and the presentation format is slightly different. To view these click here