Design for conversation: lessons from Cognoter


Tatar, D.; Foster, G.; Bobrow, D. G. Design for conversation: lessons from Cognoter. International Journal of Man-Machine Studies. 1991 February; 34 (2): 185-209.


When studying the use of Cognoter, a multi-user idea organizing tool, we noticed that users encountered unexpected communicative breakdowns. Many of these difficulties stemmed from an incorrect model of conversation implicit in the design of the software. Drawing on recent work in psychology and sociology, we were able to create a more realistic model of the situation our users faced and apply it to the system to understand the breakdowns. We discovered that users encountered difficulties coordinating their conversational actions. They also had difficulty determining that they were talking about the same objects and actions in the workspace. This work led to the redesign of the tool and to the identification of areas for further exploration.

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