SSP Forum: Sophie Regan and Xinlan Emily Hu (M.S. Candidates)

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Zoom Meeting
Monday, May 17, 2021
2:30 - 3:30 PM

Symbolic Systems Forum

Semantic Adaptation in Preschoolers
Sophie Regan (M.S. Candidate)
Symbolic Systems Program


Does Distance Matter at Scale? Extending the “Distance Matters” Framework from Distributed Teams to Distributed Organizations
Xinlan Emily Hu (M.S. Candidate)
Symbolic Systems Program

Monday, May 17, 2021
2:30pm - 3:30 pm
Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android (requires logging in to a Zoom account):


(1) Sophie Regan, "Semantic Adaptation in Preschoolers" (Primary Advisor: Mike Frank, Psychology Department; Second Reader: Judith Regan, Linguistics Department)
There is considerable variation among speakers at all levels of linguistic representation. However, to be successful at interpreting an utterance, a listener should have accurate expectations of a speaker’s production choices. To resolve this tension, adults can adapt to different speakers. Whether or not (and at what age) children can also adapt to specific speakers needs further exploration. This research examines how flexible children’s semantic representations are and whether they can understand that others may have semantic boundaries that are different from their own. Previous work has shown that adults update their expectations about how a speaker uses quantifiers after exposure to the speaker. Here, I explore whether this ability is present in preschool-aged children and find that preschoolers have adult-like expectations about how a generic speaker would use the quantifiers ‘some’ and ‘many’ and that they can update these expectations for a particular speaker after exposure to the speaker’s production choices. 

(2) Xinlan Emily Hu, "Does Distance Matter at Scale? Extending the “Distance Matters” Framework from Distributed Teams to Distributed Organizations" (Co-Advisors: Michael Bernstein, Computer Science Department, and Melissa Valentine, Management Science and Engineering Department)
Distributed work has been a major area of focus for the field of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) for the past two decades, as improved collaboration tools have made it possible to assemble distributed teams, abandon physical offices, and engage with collaborators across the world. Much of the CSCW literature on distributed work, however, focuses on intra-team dynamics. Notably, the "Distance Matters" framework has been influential in outlining five dimensions along which distributed teams must coordinate in order to work effectively: common ground, collaboration readiness, collaboration technology readiness, coupling of work, and organizational managerial aspects.
 However, an under-considered aspect of the literature is the question of how distributed collaboration scales from a single team to an entire organization. As remote work takes hold on an increasingly large scale, this question becomes crucial. Indeed, teams do not exist in a vacuum; realistically, they exist in relation to other teams, which in turn exist within a broader organization. An effective distributed organization must therefore engage with three levels of analysis: intra-team, inter-team, and organizational.
 In this talk, I expand the canonical "Distance Matters” framework and introduce a three-tiered model for studying distributed work, in which I describe how the canonical five dimensions of remote collaboration, developed at the intra-team level, should also be considered in a separate design process for the inter-team and organizational levels. The inter-team and organizational levels both produce novel collaboration and coordination challenges, as well as novel opportunities for resolving these challenges. Finally, I build this theory by presenting supporting ethnographic data from a field study at a major California National Laboratory, which transitioned the majority of its workforce to remote operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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