||Collaborative interpretation occurs when a group interprets and transforms a diverse set of information fragments into a coherent set of meaningful descriptions. This activity is characterized by emergence , where the participants' shared understanding develops gradually as they interact with each other and the source material. Our goal is to support collaborative interpretation by small, distributed groups. To achieve this, we first observed how face-to-face groups perform collaborative interpretation in a particular work context. We then synthesized design principles from two relevant areas: the key behaviors of people engaged in activities where emergence occurs, and how distributed groups work together over visual surfaces. We built and evaluated a system that supports a specific collaborative interpretation task. This system provides a large workspace and several objects that encourages emergence in interpretation. People manipulate cards that contain the raw information fragments. They reduce complexity by placing duplicate cards into piles . They suggest groupings as they manipulate the spatial layout of cards and piles. They enrich spatial layouts through notes, text and freehand annotations . They record their understanding of their final groupings as reports containing coherent descriptions.