grounding in communication

[Clark and Brennan1991] Clark, H. and Brennan, S. (1991). In L. Resnick, J. Levine and S. Teasley, editors, Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition, chapter Grounding in Communication, pages 127–149. American Psychological Association, Washington.

Seminal paper about grounding theory. The author defines grounding as the activity to maintain a shared representation of the meaning of the communications by a group of persons. Subsequently the author introduce the grounding criterion, as the sufficient level of understanding for the current purpose.

Then, the author offer a series of evidences of how grounding is accomplished in communication, like the negative evidence, the acknowledgments, the positive evidence, the try maker, the anticipative repair, etc.

Another foundamental concept here introduced is the “Least Collaborative Effort” principle: the attempt to make the contribution as informative as is required for the current purpose of the exchange, but not more than is required. Also, avoid unnecessary proxility.

The following argument is the description of the grounding reference mechanism offering alternative descriptions or indicative gestures or referential installments or trial references.

The author also think that grounding changes with the medium, and he define a kind of topology to describe the different kinds. Subsequently, he focus on the costs of gounding that he describe as strongly connected with the Least Collaborative Effort described above.

The conclusion is that communication is a collective activity which requires the coordinated actions of the participants. In this context, grounding is crucial for keeping that coordination on track.

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