Building Digital Bridges: Improving Digital Collaboration through the Principles of Hyperlinked Practice
Effective collaboration requires access to timely and relevant information, but this is difficult given the complexity of the architectural design process and the segmentation of the architecture, engineering and construction industry. Effective collaboration is further complicated by the quantity and density of the digital information generated within a project, and the irregular adoption of technology by different team members. Consolidating project information within Building Information Models has improved its management, but the technology’s complexity limits who can contribute to it. This is a problem, because team members are capable of collaborating more effectively when they can record and reflect upon a comprehensive record of the project’s design process. The aim of research was to identify how information technology can assist architectural project teams to collaborate by more inclusively and comprehensively recording and reflecting upon the design process. To address this problem, this research proposes that the industry adopt Hyperlinked Practice, which is the creation of a distributed cloud of interconnected information describing an architectural project’s events, activities and digital artefacts. A set of fundamental principles were identified that would be used to guide the design and deployment of digital collaboration tools capable of facilitating Hyperlinked Practice. To ensure a flexible and inclusive environment, the principles were derived from concepts proven within the World Wide Web. To validate these principles, their collaboration influence, potential, and industry applicability was tested within a software prototype utilised in a university architecture course and two thought experiments. The results from testing the software prototype suggest that the principles are capable of influencing collaboration in a manner that promotes the recording of the design process, and reflection upon it. The thought experiments demonstrated that the principles provided an excellent framework for evaluating a digital collaboration tool’s ability to facilitate Hyperlinked Practice. Based on these results, the research concluded the identified principles of Hyperlinked Practice were capable of facilitating a collaboration environment that would allow the design process to be comprehensively recorded and reflected upon.