Design and Development of a Transactive Memory System Prototype for Geo-Collaborative Crisis Management

Open Access
Adibhatla, Varun
Graduate Program:
Information Sciences and Technology
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 14, 2008
Committee Members:
  • Michael David Mcneese, Thesis Advisor
  • David J Hall, Thesis Advisor
  • Gerald Santoro, Thesis Advisor
  • transactive memory
  • prototype
  • whiteboard
  • hci
  • cscw
  • crisis management
  • decision making
  • group cognition
Crisis management in today's technologically mediated world is a challenging task that requires the encoding, storing and retrieval of large amounts of knowledge and information far beyond the capabilities of the individual mind. Systems developed to serve the information needs of crisis management should therefore accommodate the distributed nature of work in this context. Crisis management personnel often work in teams and their activities are shaped based on their interactions with each other as well as their environment. Moreover, crisis management teams tend to develop idiosyncrasies in organizing their own knowledge thereby hindering future possibilities of communication or coordination with external agencies. Keeping this in mind, the research described in this thesis considers the cognitive activities of the team in designing relevant technology for crisis management. Transactive memory is a theory put forward by Daniel Wegner in an effort to understand the group mind. The theory asserts that groups would succeed in achieving their collective tasks better if they can emphasize specialization into the work through accurate expertise judgment and thus continuously reconcile an evolving and disparate knowledge base for the common benefit of the group. This thesis will thus use the transactive memory approach in designing a prototypical decision-support system for crisis management personnel.