D. Gergle, R. E. Kraut, and S. R. Fussell. Action as language in a shared visual space. In Proceedings of the Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW’04), pages 487–496, Chicago, IL, USA, November 6-10 2004. Association for Computing Machinery. [pdf]
A shared visual workspace allows multiple people to see similar views of objects and environments. Prior empirical literature demonstrates that visual information helps collaborators understand the current state of their task and enables them to communicate and ground their conversations efficiently. We present an empirical study that demonstrates how action replaces explicit verbal instruction in a shared visual workspace. Pairs performed a referential communication task with and without a shared visual space. A detailed sequential analysis of the communicative content reveals that pairs with a shared workspace were less likely to explicitly verify their actions with speech. Rather, they relied on visual information to provide the necessary communicative and coordinative cues.