Society for Linguistic Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
Digital media have enabled cross-cultural collaborations in many types of settings, including engineering design collaborations. Challenges in such global teams include working with objects and relationships among objects often fragmented across different media, and influenced by different local practices. The possibilities of digital media to bring together members of multiple communities of professional practice creates for members of global teams often unanticipated challenges in understanding, for example, establishing common ground (including unshared assumptions about communicative routines and the nature of the person). The success of design efforts is impacted by attention to recipient design (how to design actions to be interpreted by others), the multiple spatial and temporal parameters within which the design activities occur, skills managing social relationships and recognizing how moral personhood inflects interpretations of cooperative action, as well as a high degree of technical expertise. Workplace settings where participation is mediated by technologies involve designers and users shaping new ways of interacting with material forms. This paper discusses engineers working together designing complex projects from four world areas.