A.5.2.1 Pattern: Context-Setting Entrance

A group of people has been attempting to accomplish some task as effectively and efficiently as possible. Because human being function in many different contexts and come from many different backgrounds and cultures, there are a wide variety of behaviors that are considered “appropriate” in various circumstances. Sometimes, we are expected to compete with each other vigorously. Other times, we are expected to be highly cooperative. Sometimes, the point of a group is to make a lot of noise. At other times, we are expected to maintain a respectful silence. When our own expectations are violated, we may feel resentful, angry, or afraid. When we violate what we later find to be the expectations of others, we may feel embarrassed or resentful. A lack of understanding of expectations not only tends to produce negative emotions; it also can directly and negatively impact productivity. We don’t want to be the only person at a party to show up in a tux while everyone else is in blue jeans --- or vice versa.

How can people select from the tremendous variety of possible behaviors those that fit in smoothly with an overall group process? Forces:
· People have a drive to learn and practice new skills.
· People have a drive to be as productive as possible in order to acquire things and experiences.
· People have a drive to become defensive if they are blamed for a violation of expectation when they had no idea what that expectation was.
· It is easier to behave in a way that complements the behaviors of others if the expectations of other people are clear.
· Conventions of ritual, architecture, event, and style have been developed that help clue people in about the type of interaction that is expected.
· When it comes to new technologies or systems with which people have little or no experience, people face great uncertainty about how they are supposed to behave.

When developing a new system, use the appearance of the system to help set expectations by relying on cultural conventions.

The current design of the Babble splash screen shows a campfire. This helps set the tone of informality.

By way of contrast, Sametime gives the user little clue about the degree of formality or informality that might be expected.

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