Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 353–371 | Cite as

Voice Loops as Coordination Aids in Space Shuttle Mission Control

  • Emily S. Patterson
  • Jennifer Watts-Perotti*
  • David D. Woods


Voice loops, an auditory groupware technology, are essential coordination support tools for experienced practitioners in domains such as air traffic management, aircraft carrier operations and space shuttle mission control. They support synchronous communication on multiple channels among groups of people who are spatially distributed. In this paper, we suggest reasons for why the voice loop system is a successful medium for supporting coordination in space shuttle mission control based on over 130 hours of direct observation. Voice loops allow practitioners to listen in on relevant communications without disrupting their own activities or the activities of others. In addition, the voice loop system is structured around the mission control organization, and therefore directly supports the demands of the domain. By understanding how voice loops meet the particular demands of the mission control environment, insight can be gained for the design of groupware tools to support cooperative activity in other event-driven domains.

attention broadcasting common ground coordination ethnographic study mission control mutual awareness overhearing voice loops 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily S. Patterson
    • 1
  • Jennifer Watts-Perotti*
    • 1
    • 2
  • David D. Woods
    • 1
  1. 1.Cognitive Systems Engineering Laboratory, Institute for ErgonomicsThe Ohio State UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Now at Eastman Kodak CompanyRochester

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