JCSCW Vol. 06 (1997)

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  • Journal Article
    Collaborative Writing Is Hard to Support: A Field Study of Collaborative Writing
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 1, 35490) Tammaro, S. G.; Mosier, J. N.; Goodwin, N. C.; Spitz, G.
    This paper documents the results of a field test of Instant Update, a collaborative writing tool by a geographically dispersed department at the MITRE Corporation. Thirty-six participants were given Instant Update software and free training and support in exchange for their cooperation with data collection. These participants spent a great deal of time writing and communicating with each other about their written work. They began the pilot test with enthusiasm, using Instant Update for many types of documents and anticipating many benefits. After three months of experience they rated the actual benefits they received from the software lower than they had expected. Their usage became much more refined. They continued to use it for some types of documents, but stopped for others. The collaborative writing software was used successfully to create joint documents that have a consistent format and are produced on a regular basis (such as weekly activity reports) and for documents that provide access to shared information (such as a vacation calendar). It was used less successfully for the production of documents that require a complex work flow and have a changing group of contributors. We concluded that although collaborative writing is difficult to support and the currently available collaborative writing tools need to be improved before they can meet the needs of most co-writers, they are adequate for some types of tasks. Documents that are well defined and are created by experienced users who can cooperate well can benefit from the currently available tools.
  • Journal Article
    A Collaborative Schema Integration System
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 1, 35490) Beynon-Davies, P.; Bonde, L.; McPhee, D.; Jones, C.B.
    Conceptual modelling as applied to database development can be described as a two stage process: schema modelling followed by schema integration. Schema modelling is the process of transforming individual user requirements into a conceptual schema: an implementation-independent map of data requirements. Schema integration is the process of combining individual conceptual schemas into a single, unified schema. Single-user tools for schema modelling have enjoyed much success partly because the process of schema modelling has become relatively well formalised. Although a number of formal approaches to conducting schema integration have been proposed, it appears that schema integration tools have not enjoyed the same level of success. This we attribute not so much to the problem of formalisation but to the inherent collaborative nature of schema integration work. This paper first discusses the importance of collaboration to schema integration work. It then describes SISIBIS, a demonstrator system employing the IBIS (Issue Based Information System) scheme to support collaborative database design.
  • Journal Article
    Virtual Society: Collaboration in 3D Spaces on the Internet
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 2-3, 35582) Lea, Rodger; Honda, Yasuaki; Matsuda, Kouichi
    The Virtual Society (VS) project is a long term research initiativethat is investigating the evolution of the futureelectronic society. Our vision for this electronic societyis a shared 3D virtual world where users, from homes and offices, canexplore, interact and work. Our first implementation of aninfrastructure to support our investigation is known asCommunityPlace and has been developed to support large-scale shared 3D spaces onthe Internet using the Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML). Obviously, such an ambitious project cutsacross many different domains. In this paper we outline thegoals of the Virtual Society project, discuss the architecture andimplementation of CommunityPlace with particular emphasis on Internetrelated technologies such as VRML and present our views on the role ofVRML and the Internet to support large-scale shared 3D spaces.
  • Journal Article
    Distributed Coordination and Workflow on the World Wide Web
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 2-3, 35582) Grasso, Antonietta; Meunier, Jean-Luc; Pagani, Daniele; Pareschi, Remo
    This paper describes WebFlow, an environment thatsupports distributed coordination services on theWorld Wide Web. WebFlow leverages the HTTP Webtransport protocol and consists of a number of toolsfor the development of applications that require thecoordination of multiple, distributed servers.Typical applications of WebFlow include distributeddocument workspaces, inter/intra-enterprise workflow,and electronic commerce. In this paper we describe thegeneral WebFlow architecture for distributedcoordination, and then focus on the environment fordistributed workflow.
  • Journal Article
    Enterprise-Level Groupware Choices: Evaluating Lotus Notes and Intranet-Based Solutions
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 2-3, 35582) Ginsburg, Mark; Duliba, Katherine
    This paper considers collaborative software atthe enterprise level, specifically Lotus Notesand alternatives which use Intranet-based (WorldWide Web) technologies. We examine thestrategic reasons, both short-term and long-term, motivating firms' choices in the decisionphase and organizational issues in theimplementation phase in three exploratory casestudies. We review prior coordinationtechnology literature to show that our focus onthe decision faced by senior management of whichgroupware system to implement is a useful andnovel perspective to pursue. We argue thatthis choice, and its consequences, is of crucialimportance to the firm. To understand morefully the nature of the decision, we consider athematic pair of related issues: Internetstandards and interoperability. Why are so-called ‘Open Systems’ a major factor to some firms and notimportant to others? Why is theproprietary nature of Lotus Notes a stumblingblock to some firms and a strategic advantage toothers? We explore enterprise-level groupwareexpectations and requirements in our casestudies to address these interesting questions. The final section focuses on predicting changeto understand when an organization might reverseits initial enterprise-wide collaborative strategy.
  • Journal Article
    The World Wide Web as Enabling Technology for CSCW: The Case of BSCW
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 2-3, 35582) Bentley, Richard; Horstmann, Thilo; Trevor, Jonathan
    Despite the growth of interest in the field of CSCW,and the increasingly large number of systems whichhave been developed, it is still the case that fewsystems have been adopted for widespread use. This isparticularly true for widely-dispersed, cross-organisational working groups where problems ofheterogeneity in computing hardware and softwareenvironments inhibit the deployment of CSCWtechnologies. With a lightweight and extensibleclient-server architecture, client implementations forall popular computing platforms, and an existing userbase numbered in millions, the World Wide Web offersgreat potential in solving some of these problems toprovide an ‘enabling technology’ for CSCWapplications. We illustrate this potential using ourwork with the BSCW shared workspace system – anextension to the Web architecture which provides basicfacilities for collaborative information sharing fromunmodified Web browsers. We conclude that despitelimitations in the range of applications which can bedirectly supported, building on the strengths of theWeb can give significant benefits in easing thedevelopment and deployment of CSCW applications.
  • Journal Article
    When Are Group Scheduling Tools Useful?
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 1, 35490) Mosier, Jane N.; Tammaro, Susan G.
    A geographically dispersed department at the MITRE Corporation participated in a field test of groupware tools. This paper documents the results of their use of a group scheduling tool, Meeting Maker Version 1.5. Research in the late 1980s showed that early group scheduling tools were not useful, in part because they only benefited some users and hence critical mass could not be attained. This study was undertaken to determine whether and how far the tools have evolved. Participants said that Meeting Maker made it easy to schedule meetings and maintain their calendars, and 90% wished to continue using it after the study was complete. Problems were noted when not everyone used or had access to the tool, and three generic solutions are discussed: capabilities that allow users to communicate with non-users, capabilities that allow users to stay connected, and lightweight methods of participation.
  • Journal Article
    Challenges for Cooperative Work on the Web: An Analytical Approach
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 2-3, 1997) Dix, Alan
    This paper investigates some of the issues which willdetermine the viability of the World Wide Web as aninfrastructure for cooperative work. In fact, takinga weak definition of collaboration, the Web is alreadya very successful collaborative environment. Inaddition, it is already being used as the basis forexperimental and commercial groupware. The paper takesthis as a starting point and uses analytic methodsdeveloped in the field of Computer SupportedCooperative Work to investigate the reasons for theWeb's present success, its strengths and weaknesses asa platform for CSCW, and prospects for future development.
  • Journal Article
    On the Relevance of Habermas‘ Theory of Communicative Action for CSCW
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 4, 35765) Sharrock, Wes; Button, Graham
    We examine the argument put forward by Ojelanki Nygwenyama andKalle Lyytinen that Juergen Habermas's theory of communicativeaction is relevant for the analysis and design of groupwaresystems. We suggest that CSCW champions of Habermas oftenoverlook the fact that his theory can be criticised in itsown right, and go on to outline its contestable character inan appraisal of his understanding of the ‘ideal speech situation’.We then move to Nygwenyama and Lyytinen's implementation ofHabermas's schema and argue that their categories of analysisare both arbitrarily constructed and applied. In conclusion,we question the extent to which grand, holistic, synthesisingsociological theories offer a way forward for designers andpoint to the difficulties of practically applying Nygwenyamaand Lyytinen's categories of analysis.
  • Journal Article
    Aramis or The Love of Technology, Bruno Latour
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 6, No. 4, 35765) Middleton, David