The World Wide Design Lab: An Environment for Distributed Collaborative Design
In ever increasing frequency, designers are required to collaborate across large geographical boundaries. This collaboration presents the participants with new challenges. In this paper we describe how we have addressed two of these challenges using Internet technology. The first challenge is "How can designers discuss complex design artifacts at a distance?". Designers' discussions have a complex structure. For example, a designer can refute, justify, or revise a design proposal. These discussions are traditionally supported by sketches and formal diagrams. In this paper we show how our solution allows designers to have the same rich forms of interactions, over the Internet, with the minimum changes to their style of work. The second challenge we have addressed is "How can previous design solutions be made reusable between collaborators separated by a large distance?". Reusing old solutions is a common design practice. Sharing solutions across institutions presents an interpretation problem, as institutions may describe their solutions using different terminology. Organising a shared library also raises challenges. There is a trade-off between reducing the time to find a previous solution and reducing the duplication of design solutions across institutions.
Submitted to the International Conference on Engineering design ICED 97, Tampere, Finland, August 19-21, 1997