Representation, Interaction, and Intersubjectivity


Computer Science Department, Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, P.O. Box 549110, Waltham, MA, 02454-9110. E-mail:


What the participants share, their common “sense” of the world, creates a foundation, a framing, an orientation that enables human actors to see and act in coordination with one another. For recurrent activities, the methods the participants use to understand each other as they act change, making the intersubjective space in which actors operate richer and easier to produce. This article works through some of the issues that emerge from a close examination of intersubjectivity as it is managed through representation and interaction. The data that are presented document, in detail, a sequence of related interactions, within and across episodes of cooperation, where continuity and change can be observed. The emergence of conversational structure and coordinating representations are significant milestones in the long-term development of a representational practice that support the runtime co-construction of intersubjective space. Conversational structures emerge interactively to mediate recurrent points of coordination in the domain activity, and only secondarily the conversation itself. Coordinating representations change the representational practice of the participants by making it easier to manage their “shared view” of the collective work, enabling the participants to make progress, expand the field of the common activity, while exhibiting more control of if and when explicit grounding occurs.