Challenges, Motivations, and Success Factors in the Creation of Hurricane Katrina "Person Locator" Web Sites

Date of Original Version



Conference Proceeding

Abstract or Description

We interviewed six people who created web sites enabling Hurricane Katrina survivors to report their status. We learned that interviewees did not discover and communicate with other teams when they started their projects, which led to redundant sites. The absence of a shared task impeded trust between teams, ultimately inhibiting data collection and aggregation. Moreover, communication within teams was problematic; developers who had adequate technical skills to work alone were more positive about their sites’ success compared to developers who had to shore up skill weaknesses through collaboration. These problems did not simply result from over-sized egos, since site creators were generally motivated by a concern for other people instead of selfinterested motivations such as money, reputation, or learning. Rather, these problems highlight the need for improved development methods and systems to help developers discover and communicate with potential collaborators on widely-distributed, time-critical projects.