Summer of 2016   |   In collaboration with Thomas Erickson

meeting technology concept Some concepts for new meeting support technologies. Left: a in-meeting schedule assistent. Right: an in-meeting application

Meetings are often seen solely as a site of collective work. However, groups are concerned with much more than collective work. In this research, we have looked at how individuals at IBM research experience recurring meetings, with the aim of identifying new opportunities for meeting support technologies.

Recurring meetings are an ordinary aspect of organization life. their routine nature lends them a casual character that distinguishes them from one-time, issue-focused meetings. By analyzing the accounts of 19 meetings, we examined how various peripheral activities – side-talk, side- tracking, multi-tasking, pre- and post-meeting talk – can have both positive and negative effects.

meeting technology concept To help people describe and reflect upon the meeting, we asked them to draw a timelines and graphs of their variation in attention and interest during the meeting.

We believe that recognizing that meetings are a confluence of individual and collective needs and goals provides a more realistic basis for and perspective on meeting support technologies. We conceptualized various opportunities for technology that supports both meetings and participants. For example:

  • Technologies could democratize the running of meetings. By making running meetings more of a collective responsibility, the group as a whole could be accountable for the meeting’s order and usefulness.
  • By providing alternative communication channels, potential side-trackers could non-disruptively continue their discussion, to schedule an ‘offline’ venue for further talk, to ‘bookmark’ content for later exploration, for example.
  • Recurring meetings could be held semi-synchronous, by offering technologies that enlist attention when attention is required, and let people work on their own tasks at other moments. Meeting agents could remind attendees when items related to their contribution are coming up, and provide a summary of the missed part to allow the participant to catch up.
This research was performed during a three-month visit to the IBM T.J Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. The research has been published as part of the online-first proceedings of CSCW 2018.

meeting application A design of an in-meeting application, in which people can record parts of the meetings, annotate slides and recordings, and chat and schedule follow-up meetings with other meeting members.


Last update: March 2018
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