Computer-supported cooperative work

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The term computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) was first coined by Irene Greif and Paul M. Cashman in 1984, at a workshop attended by individuals interested in using technology to support people in their work.[1] At about this same time, in 1987 Dr. Charles Findley presented the concept of Collaborative Learning-Work.[2] According to Carstensen and Schmidt,[3] CSCW addresses "how collaborative activities and their coordination can be supported by means of computer systems." On the one hand, many authors consider that CSCW and groupware are synonyms. On the other hand, different authors claim that while groupware refers to real computer-based systems, CSCW focuses on the study of tools and techniques of groupware as well as their psychological, social, and organizational effects. The definition of Wilson (1991)[4] expresses the difference between these two concepts:

CSCW [is] a generic term, which combines the understanding of the way people work in groups with the enabling technologies of computer networking, and associated hardware, software, services and techniques.

Central concerns of CSCW[edit]

CSCW is a design-oriented academic field that is interdisciplinary in nature and brings together economists, organizational theorists, educators, social psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists and computer scientists, among others. The expertise of researchers in various and combined disciplines help researchers identify venues for possible development. Despite the variety of disciplines, CSCW is an identifiable research field focused on understanding characteristics of interdependent group work with the objective of designing adequate computer-based technology to support such cooperative work.

Essentially, CSCW goes beyond building technology itself and looks at how people work within groups and organizations and the impacts of technology on those processes. CSCW has ushered in a great extent of melding between social scientists and technologists as developers work together to overcome both technical non-technical problems within the same user spaces. For example, many R&D professionals working with CSCW are computer scientists who have realized that social factors play an important role in the development of collaborative systems. On the flip side, many social scientists who understand the increasing role of technology in our social world become “technologists” who work in R&D labs to develop cooperative systems.

Over the years, CSCW researchers have identified a number of core dimensions of cooperative work. A non-exhaustive list includes:

  • Awareness: individuals working together need to be able to gain some level of shared knowledge about each other's activities.[5]
  • Articulation work: cooperating individuals must somehow be able to partition work into units, divide it amongst themselves and, after the work is performed, reintegrate it.[6][7]
  • Appropriation (or tailorability): how an individual or group adapts a technology to their own particular situation; the technology may be appropriated in a manner completely unintended by the designers.[8][9][10]

These concepts have largely been derived through the analysis of systems designed by researchers in the CSCW community, or through studies of existing systems (for example, Wikipedia[citation needed]). CSCW researchers that design and build systems try to address core concepts in novel ways. However, the complexity of the domain makes it difficult to produce conclusive results; the success of CSCW systems are often so contingent on the peculiarities of the social context that it is hard to generalize. Consequently, CSCW systems that are based on the design of successful ones may fail to be appropriated in other seemingly similar contexts for a variety of reasons that are nearly impossible to identify a priori.[11] CSCW researcher Mark Ackerman calls this "divide between what we know we must support socially and what we can support technically" the socio-technical gap and describes CSCW's main research agenda to be "exploring, understanding, and hopefully ameliorating" this gap.[12]

CSCW Matrix[edit]

the CSCW Matrix

One of the most common ways of conceptualizing CSCW systems is to consider the context of a system's use. One such conceptualization is the CSCW Matrix, first introduced in 1988 by Johansen; it also appears in Baecker (1995).[13] The matrix considers work contexts along two dimensions: first, whether collaboration is co-located or geographically distributed, and second, whether individuals collaborate synchronously (same time) or asynchronously (not depending on others to be around at the same time).

Same time/same place[edit]

Face to face interaction

Same time/different place[edit]

Remote interaction

Different time/same place[edit]

Continuous task

  • Team rooms,
  • Large displays
  • Post-it
  • Warrooms

Different time/different place[edit]

Communication + Coordination

There is a collaborative mode called multi-synchronous that can not fit the matrix.

Challenges in Computer-Supported Cooperative Work[edit]

Leadership[edit]

Generally, teams working in a CSCW environment need the same types of leadership as other teams. However, research has shown that distributed CSCW teams may need more direction at the time the group is formed than to traditional working groups, largely to promote cohesion and liking among people who may not have as many opportunities to interact in person, both before and after the formation of the working group.[14]

Creativity[edit]

With increased participation in CSCW working environments, researchers have become interested in studying creativity in such forums. However, research has shown that the interface elements of CSCW environments often slow down creative collaboration due to the design of interfaces themselves. There seems to be a gap between what people need socially to engage in creativity and the technical designs available to support such creativity. As such, researchers are continuing to investigate the tools that people need in order to creatively work in groups and are focusing their efforts on developing usable, supportive systems to cultivate creative group input and participation.[15]

Adoption of Groupware[edit]

Groupware goes hand in hand with CSCW. The term refers to software that is designed to support activities of a group or organization over a network and includes email, conferencing tools, group calendars, workflow management tools, etc.[16]

While groupware enables geographically dispersed teams to achieve organizational goals and engage in cooperative work, there are also many challenges that accompany use of such systems. For instance, groupware often requires users to learn a new system, which users may perceive as creating more work for them without much benefit. If team members are not willing to learn and adopt groupware, it is difficult (if not impossible) for the organization to develop the requisite critical mass for the groupware to be useful. Further, research has found that groupware requires careful implementation into a group setting, and product developers have not as yet been able to find the most optimal way to introduce such systems into organizational environments.[16]

On the technical side, networking issues with groupware often create challenges in using groupware for CSCW. While access to the Internet is becoming increasingly ubiquitous, geographically dispersed users still face challenges of differing network conditions. For instance, web conferencing can be quite challenging if some members have a very slow connection and others are able to utilize high speed connections.[16]

Intergenerational Groups[edit]

One of the recurring challenges in CSCW environments is development of an infrastructure that can bridge cross-generational gaps in virtual teams.[17]

Ideally, system designs will accommodate all team members, but orienting older workers to new CSCW tools can often be difficult. This can cause problems in virtual teams due to the necessity of incorporating the wealth of knowledge and expertise that older workers bring to the table with the technological challenges of new virtual environments. Orienting and retraining older workers to effectively utilize new technology can often be difficult, as they generally have less experience than younger workers with learning such new technologies.

Advantages of CSCW[edit]

While CSCW working environments certainly face challenges, they also provide many advantages as well. For instance, teams that work together asynchronously provide members with the luxury to contribute when they want, from the location of their choosing, thus eliminating the need for members to “synchronize schedules.”[18] CSCW also allows employees with specific expertise to be a part of teams without the concern of geographic restraints.”[19]

CSCW can also result in major cost savings to companies who implement virtual teams and allow employees to work at home by eliminating the need for travel, rented office space, parking, electricity office equipment, etc. Conversely, from the employee’s perspective, commuting costs and time associated with communing are also eliminated.

Further, research has shown that the use of multiple communication threads can increase group participation and contribution from more team members and foster a less egalitarian communication structure.[16][20] Along the same lines, text-based CSCW communication, such as email, allows users to keep a record of communication and can promote long-term collaboration and learning through observing others.[21]

Challenges in CSCW Research[edit]

Differing Meanings[edit]

Even within the CSCW field, researchers often rely on different journals, research, contextual factors and schools of thought, which can result in disagreement and confusion especially when common terms in the field are used in subtly different ways (“user,” “implementation,” etc.) Also, user requirements change over time and are often not clear to participants due to their evolving nature and the fact that requirements are always in flux.[1]

Identifying User Needs[edit]

Because organizations are so nuanced, CSCW researchers often have difficulty deciding which set(s) of tools will benefit a particular group.[22] This is exacerbated by the fact that it is almost impossible to accurately identify user/group/organization needs and requirements because such needs and requirements inevitably change through the introduction of the system itself. Even when researchers study requirements through several iterations, such requirements often change and evolve yet again by the time that researchers have completed a particular iteration of inquiry.

Evaluation and Measurement[edit]

The range of disciplinary approaches leveraged in implementing CSCW systems makes CSCW difficult to evaluate, measure, and generalize to multiple populations. Because researchers evaluating CSCW systems often bypass quantitative data in favor of naturalistic inquiry, results can be largely subjective due to the complexity and nuances of organizations themselves. Possibly as a result of the debate between qualitative and quantitative researchers, three evaluation approaches have emerged in the literature examining CSCW systems. However, each approach faces its own unique challenges and weaknesses:[23]

Methodology-oriented frameworks explain the methods of inquiry available to CSCW researchers without providing guidance for selecting the best method for a particular research question or population.

Conceptual frameworks provide guidelines for determining factors that a researcher should consider and evaluate through CSCW research but fail to link conceptual constructs with methodological approaches. Thus, while researchers may know what factors are important to their inquiry, they may have difficulty understanding which methodologies will result in the most informative findings.

Concept-oriented frameworks provide specific advice for studying isolated aspects of CSCW but lack guidance as to how specific areas of study can be combined to form more comprehensive insight.

CSCW Conferences[edit]

Since 1986, the Association for Computer Machinery has hosted a yearly conference on CSCW in the United States.[24] The conference is held each February and seeks to present research in the design and use of technologies that affect organizational and group work. With the rapidly increasing development of new devices that allow collaboration from different locations and contexts, the CSCW seeks to bring together researchers from across academia and industry to discuss the many facets of virtual collaboration from both social and technical perspectives.

Internationally, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers sponsors the International Conference on Computer Supported Work and Design, which takes place yearly.[25] In addition, the European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies sponsors the European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, which is held every two years.[26]

See also[edit]

CSCW most cited papers[edit]

The 47 CSCW Handbook Papers.[27] This paper list is the result of a citation graph analysis of the CSCW Conference. It has been established in 2006 and reviewed by the CSCW Community. This list only contains papers published in one conference; papers published at other venues have also had significant impact on the CSCW community.

The “CSCW handbook”[27] papers were chosen as the overall most cited within the CSCW conference <...> It led to a list of 47 papers, corresponding to about 11% of all papers.

  1. Dourish, P.; Bellotti, V. (1992). "Awareness and coordination in shared workspaces". Proceedings of the 1992 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 107–114,. 
  2. Grudin, J. (1988). "Why CSCW applications fail: problems in the design and evaluation of organization of organizational interfaces". Proceedings of the 1988 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 85–93. 
  3. Root, R.W. (1988). "Design of a multi-media vehicle for social browsing". Proceedings of the 1988 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 25–38. 
  4. Patterson, J.F.; Hill, R.D.; Rohall, S.L.; Meeks, S.W. (1990). "Rendezvous: an architecture for synchronous multi-user applications". Proceedings of the 1990 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 317–328. 
  5. Greenberg, S.; Marwood, D. (1994). "Real time groupware as a distributed system: concurrency control and its effect on the interface". Proceedings of the 1994 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 207–217. 
  6. Nardi, B.A.; Whittaker, S.; Bradner, E. (2000). "Interaction and outeraction: instant messaging in action". Proceedings of the 2000 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 79–88. 
  7. Hughes, J.A.; Randall, D.; Shapiro, D. (1992). "Faltering from ethnography to design". Proceedings of the 1992 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 115–122. 
  8. Tang, J.C.; Isaacs, E.A.; Rua, M. (1994). "Supporting distributed groups with a Montage of lightweight interactions". Proceedings of the 1994 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 23–34. 
  9. Neuwirth, C.M.; Kaufer, D.S.; Chandhok, R.; Morris, J.H. (1990). "Issues in the design of computer support for co-authoring and commenting". Proceedings of the 1990 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 183–195. 
  10. Crowley, T.; Milazzo, P.; Baker, E.; Forsdick, H.; Tomlinson, R. (1990). "MMConf: an infrastructure for building shared multimedia applications". Proceedings of the 1990 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 329–342. 
  11. Roseman, M.; Greenberg, S. (1992). "GROUPKIT: a groupware toolkit for building real-time conferencing applications". Proceedings of the 1992 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 43–50. 
  12. Shen, H.H.; Dewan, P. (1992). "Access control for collaborative environments". Proceedings of the 1992 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 51–58. 
  13. Gaver, W.W. (1992). "The affordances of media spaces for collaboration". Proceedings of the 1992 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 17–24. 
  14. Orlikowski, W.J. (1992). "Learning from Notes: organizational issues in groupware implementation". Proceedings of the 1992 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 362–369. 
  15. Sun, C.; Ellis, C. (1998). "Operational transformation in real-time group editors: issues, algorithms, and achievements". Proceedings of the 1998 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 59–68. 
  16. Bly, S.A. (1988). "A use of drawing surfaces in different collaborative settings". Proceedings of the 1988 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 250–256. 
  17. Leland, M.D.P.; Fish, R.S.; Kraut, R.E. (1988). "Collaborative document production using quilt". Proceedings of the 1988 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 206–215. 
  18. Conklin, J.; Begeman, M.L. (1988). "gIBIS: a hypertext tool for exploratory policy discussion". ACM Transactions on Information Systems (TOIS) 6 (4): 303–331. doi:10.1145/58566.59297. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  19. Bentley, R.; Hughes, J.A.; Randall, D.; Rodden, T.; Sawyer, P.; Shapiro, D.; Sommerville, I. (1992). "Ethnographically-informed systems design for air traffic control". Proceedings of the 1992 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 123–129. 
  20. Mantei, M. (1988). "Capturing the capture concepts: a case study in the design of computer-supported meeting environments". Proceedings of the 1988 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 257–270. 
  21. Lantz, K.A. (1986). "An experiment in integrated multimedia conferencing". Proceedings of the 1986 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 267–275. 
  22. Harrison, S.; Dourish, P. (1996). "Re-place-ing space: the roles of place and space in collaborative systems". Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 67–76. 
  23. Roseman, M.; Greenberg, S. (1996). "TeamRooms: network places for collaboration". Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 325–333. 
  24. Ishii, H. (1990). "TeamWorkStation: towards a seamless shared workspace". Proceedings of the 1990 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 13–26. 
  25. Ressel, M.; Nitsche-ruhland, D.; Gunzenhäuser, R. (1996). "An integrating, transformation-oriented approach to concurrency control and undo in group editors". Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 288–297. 
  26. Edwards, W.K. (1996). "Policies and roles in collaborative applications". Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 11–20. 
  27. Bellotti, V.; Bly, S. (1996). "Walking away from the desktop computer: distributed collaboration and mobility in a product design team". Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 209–218. 
  28. Ackerman, M.S. (1998). "Augmenting Organizational Memory: A Field Study of Answer Garden". ACM Transactions on Information Systems 16 (3): 203–224. doi:10.1145/290159.290160. Retrieved 2007-08-03. 
  29. Abbott, K.R.; Sarin, S.K. (1994). "Experiences with workflow management: issues for the next generation". Proceedings of the 1994 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 113–120. 
  30. Resnick, P.; Iacovou, N.; Suchak, M.; Bergstrom, P.; Riedl, J. (1994). "GroupLens: an open architecture for collaborative filtering of netnews". Proceedings of the 1994 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 175–186. 
  31. Prakash, A.; Shim, H.S. (1994). "DistView: support for building efficient collaborative applications using replicated objects". Proceedings of the 1994 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 153–164. 
  32. Streitz, N.A.; Geißler, J.; Haake, J.M.; Hol, J. (1994). "DOLPHIN: integrated meeting support across local and remote desktop environments and LiveBoards". Proceedings of the 1994 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 345–358. 
  33. Foster, G.; Stefik, M. (1986). "Cognoter: theory and practice of a colab-orative tool". Proceedings of the 1986 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 7–15. 
  34. Shen, C.; Lesh, N.B.; Vernier, F.; Forlines, C.; Frost, J. (2002). "Sharing and building digital group histories". Proceedings of the 2002 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 324–333. 
  35. Sohlenkamp, M.; Chwelos, G. (1994). "Integrating communication, cooperation, and awareness: the DIVA virtual office environment". Proceedings of the 1994 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 331–343. 
  36. Olson, J.S.; Teasley, S. (1996). "Groupware in the wild: lessons learned from a year of virtual collocation". Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 419–427. 
  37. Reder, S.; Schwab, R.G. (1990). "The temporal structure of cooperative activity". Proceedings of the 1990 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 303–316. 
  38. Fish, R.S.; Kraut, R.E.; Chalfonte, B.L. (1990). "The VideoWindow system in informal communication". Proceedings of the 1990 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 1–11. 
  39. Haake, J.M.; Wilson, B. (1992). "Supporting collaborative writing of hyperdocuments in SEPIA". Proceedings of the 1992 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 138–146. 
  40. Hudson, S.E.; Smith, I. (1996). "Techniques for addressing fundamental privacy and disruption tradeoffs in awareness support systems". Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 248–257. 
  41. MacKay, W.E. (1990). "Patterns of sharing customizable software". Proceedings of the 1990 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 209–221. 
  42. Trigg, R.H.; Suchman, L.A.; Halasz, F.G. (1986). "Supporting collaboration in notecards". Proceedings of the 1986 ACM conference on Computer-supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 153–162. 
  43. Patterson, J.F.; Day, M.; Kucan, J. (1996). "Notification servers for synchronous groupware". Proceedings of the 1996 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 122–129. 
  44. Myers, B.A.; Stiel, H.; Gargiulo, R. (1998). "Collaboration using multiple PDAs connected to a PC". Proceedings of the 1998 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 285–294. 
  45. Ackerman, M.S.; Halverson, C. (1998). "Considering an organization's memory". Proceedings of the 1998 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 39–48. 
  46. Teasley, S.; Covi, L.; Krishnan, M.S.; Olson, J.S. (2000). "How does radical collocation help a team succeed?". Proceedings of the 2000 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 339–346. 
  47. Kuzuoka, H.; Kosuge, T.; Tanaka, M. (1994). "GestureCam: a video communication system for sympathetic remote collaboration". Proceedings of the 1994 ACM conference on Computer supported cooperative work. ACM Press New York, NY, USA. pp. 35–43. 

References[edit]

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External links[edit]