Use of Ethnography and Activity theory to Improve a Wiki Interface

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Linköpings universitet/Institutionen för teknik och naturvetenskapTekniska högskolan

Author: Helena Johansson; [2006]

Keywords: ;


New ways to communicate over the Internet are constantly introduced. Wiki is a type of communication tool that was built about 15 years ago and has been increasing in popularity the last few years. This has lead to many projects trying to improve the wiki interface to make it more usable. The Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia has done a lot of research within the wiki web system and is currently building a new wiki, called the SiaWiki, which contains the wiki and blog genres working together as one tool. To explore the new feature of how genres works together in one space, genre theory was used, and the aim was to see a better communication within the group.

The dominating approach for HCI has long been cognitive psychology, and recent interest has grown in applying activity theory to issues of human computer interaction. Activity theory includes notions that have proven attractive to interface design. These include intentionality, history, mediation, motivation, understanding, culture and community.

Ethnographic research methods have also become increasingly popular in the field of human-computer interaction. The ethnographic method participatory design was used on the group of students that the SiaWiki was primarily designed for. The aim was to see how the framework could be used in this project and to improve the interface to get a better fit with the intended users. The participants evaluated the current SiaWiki prototype and this resulted in a few changes in the interface.

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