Computer-supported cooperative work
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. At about this same time, in 1987, Dr. Charles Findley presented the concept of Collaborative Learning-Work. According to Carstensen and Schmidt, 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) 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.
Computer-supported cooperative work is a groundbreaking interdisciplinary research area of growing interest which relates workstations to digitally advanced networking systems. The first technologies were economically feasible, but their interoperability is lacking which makes understanding a well-tailored supporting system difficult. Due to global markets, more organizations are being pushed to decentralize their corporate systems. When faced with the complexities of today's business issues, a significant effort must be made to improve manufacturing systems' efficiency, improve product quality, and reduce time to market. The idea of CSCW or computer-supported cooperative work has become useful over the years since its inception and most especially in the ongoing crisis of the Covid-19 pandemic. The measures to curb the disease's spread have led to firm closures that encouraged the rate of remote working and learning. This further means that CSCW could not be more useful than this; particularly a collective virtual workspace. Participants will share a common workspace, hold sessions, visualize and hear each other's movements and voices in a common simulated workspace with a group-centered design. Only when advanced and generic methods are combined does a CSCW framework seem full to the consumer. For decades, CSCW studies have been proposed using a variety of technologies to promote collaborative work, ranging from shared data services to video-mediated networks for synchronous operations. Among the various domains of CSCW, the Audio/Video Conference Module (AVM) has become useful in enabling audiovisual communication via the online applications used to discuss and undertake work operations such as Zoom and EzTalks. Audiovisual collaboration is important for collaborative work. The AVM is built on an A/V networking service that enables audio and video channels to be multiplexed and distributed to remote participants.
Many businesses are being forced to cut their travel costs due to the current economic environment. People working in necessary facilities also often had to adopt new ways of working, such as avoiding direct touch or being near others, all of which are usually considered important for completing daily tasks (CSCW). Others are expected to work remotely from home. Individuals have had to rapidly re-negotiate innovative methods of being together at home, balancing the home as a workplace, a classroom, a family space, and a venue for extensive social gatherings. According to Reinhard et al. (1994), the businesses have dedicated high amounts of work towards the improvement of their manufacturing operations, improving product quality, and minimizing time-to-market. Optimally designed working conditions are required and necessary, which essentially expands the range of possible applications (CSCW). Among these businesses, video conferencing is the most cost-effective alternative to face-to-face sessions.
Central concerns and concepts
CSCW is a design-oriented academic field that is interdisciplinary in nature and brings together librarians, 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 and 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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). 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 is 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. 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.
Articulation work, being one of the most important aspects to CSCW, is essentially the work to make work work. Articulation work can be planned or unplanned; there are times in a work setting where articulation work is needed when things do not go as planned. Therefore articulation work is an integral part of software process enactment since software processes can sometimes fail or break down. Articulation work is also commonly known as invisible work since it is not always noticed. Articulation work was introduced by Anselm Strauss. He discovered articulation work as a way to observe the “nature of mutually dependent actors in their division of labour”. This concept was then introduced in the CSCW by Schmidt and Bannon in 1992, where it would be applied to more realistic work scenarios in society. Articulation work is inherent in collaboration. The idea of articulation work was initially used in relation to computer-supported cooperative work, but it was travelled through other domains of work, such as healthcare work. Initially, articulation work was referred to known mainly for scheduling and allocation of resources but extends far more than just that. Articulation work can also be seen as the response developers make to adapt to changes due to error or misjudgments in the real world. There are various models of articulation work that help identify applicable solutions to recover or reorganize planned activities. It’s also important to note that articulation can vary depending on the scenario. Oftentimes there is an increase in the need for articulation work as the situation becomes more complex.
Because articulation work is so abstract, it can be split into two categories from the highest level: articulation in individual activity and articulation in collective activity. With individual activity, articulation work is almost always applicable. It is obvious that the subject is required to articulate his/her own work. But when a subject is faced with a new task, there are many questions that must be answered in order to move forward and be successful. This questioning is considered the articulation work to the actual project; invisible, but necessary. There is also articulation of action within an activity. For example, creating to-do lists and blueprints may be imperative to progressing a project. There is also articulation of operation within an action. In terms of software, the user must have adequate knowledge and skill in using computer systems and knowledge about software in order to perform tasks. In a teamwork setting, articulation is imperative for cooperation. To maximize the efficiency of all the people working, the articulation work must be very solid. Without a solid foundation, the team is unable to collaborate effectively. Furthermore, as the size of the team increases, the articulation work becomes more complex.
What goes in between the user and the system is often overlooked. But software process modeling techniques as well as the model of articulation work is imperative in creating a solid foundation that allows for improvement and enhancement. In a way, all work needs to be articulated; there needs to be a who, what, where, when and how. With technology, there are many tools that utilize articulation work. Tasks such as planning and scheduling can be considered articulation work. There are also times when the articulation work is bridging the gap between the technology and the user. Ultimately, articulation work is the work that allows for cooperative work to be cooperative, which is why it is so important in CSCW.
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). 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
Face to face interaction
- Shared tables, wall displays
- Digital whiteboards
- Electronic meeting systems
- Single display groupware
- Group Decision Support System
Same time/different place
- Electronic meeting systems
- Real-time groupware
- Messaging (instant messaging, email, chat)
Different time/same place
Continuous task (Ongoing task )
- Team rooms,
- Large displays
Different time/different place
Communication + Coordination
There is a collaborative mode called multi-synchronous that can not fit the matrix.
Along the lines of a more collaborative modality is something called ubiquitous computing. Ubiquitous computing was first coined by Mark Weiser of Xerox PARC. This was to describe the phenomenon of computing technologies becoming prevalent everywhere. It was key to create a new language for this to observe the dynamics of computers becoming available at mass scale and its effects on us as users in collaborative systems. Between the use of social commerce apps, the rise of social media, and the widespread availability of smart devices and the Internet, there is a growing area of research within CSCW that how come out of these three trends. These topics include ethnomethodology and conversation analysis (EMCA) within social media, ubiquitous computing, and instant message based social commerce.
Ethnomethodology & Synchronicity
In You Recommend I Buy: How and Why People Engage in Instant Messaging Based Social Commerce, researchers on this project analyzed twelve users of Chinese Instant Messenger (IM) social commerce platforms to study how social recommendation engines on IM commerce platforms result in a different user experience. The study was entirely on Chinese platforms, mainly WeChat. The research was conducted by a team composed of members from Stanford, Beijing, Boston, and Kyoto. The interviewing process took place in the winter of 2020 and was an entirely qualitative analysis, using just interviews. The goal of the interviews were to probe about how participants got involved in IM based social commerce, their experience on IM based social commerce, the reasons for and against IM based social commerce, and changes introduced by IM based social commerce to their lives. An IM-based service integrates directly with our more intimate social experiences. If we think about what IM means, it is essentially texting in real-time over a network. This can be both a synchronous or asynchronous activity. IM based social commerce makes the user shopping experience more accessible. In terms of CSCW, this is an example of ubiquitous computing. This creates a “jump out of the box” experience as described in the research because the IM based platform facilitates a change in user behavior and the overall experience on social commerce. The benefit of this concept is that the app is leveraging personal relationships and real-life networks that can actually lead to a more meaningful customer experience, which is founded upon trust.
A second CSCW paper, Embeddedness and Sequentiality in Social Media, explores a new methodology for analyzing social media—another expression of ubiquitous computing in CSCW. This paper used ethnomethodology and conversation analysis (EMCA) as a framework to research Facebook users. In brief, ethnomethodology studies the everyday interactions of people and relates how this pertains to forming their outlook of the world. Conversational analysis delves into the structures of conversations so as to extract information about how people construct their experiences. The team behind this research, hailing from University of Nottingham and Stockholm University, recognized that “moment-by-moment, unfolding, real-time human action” was somewhat missing from the CSCW literature on social media. The significance of this is they felt that by exploring EMCA, it could provide different insights on collaborative social network systems, as opposed to relying solely on recall. Here is a formal definition for EMCA:
For EMCA, the activities of everyday life are structured in time—some things routinely happen before others. Fundamentally there is a ‘sequentiality’ to activity, something that has been vital for developing understanding of the orderly nature of talk  and bodily interaction .
In other words, EMCA pays attention to the sequence of events, so as to reveal some sort of underlying order about our behavior in our day-to-day interactions. In the bigger picture, this work reveals that time, as one of the dimensions to consider within collaborative systems design, matters. Another major factor would be distance. Does Distance Still Matter? Revisiting the CSCW Fundamentals on Distributed Collaboration is another research article that, as the title suggests, explores under what circumstances distance matters. Most notably, it mentions the "mutual knowledge problem." This problem arises when a group in a distributed collaborative system experiences a breakdown in communication due to the fact that its members lack a shared understanding for the given context they are working in. It matters that everyone is in alignment over the nature of what they are doing.
Co-located, Parallel & Sequential activities
Instead of relying on accounts of user experiences about social media, which are all based on recollection, we can now ask different questions and get a whole new set of answers to unresolved issues in the ubiquitous computing systems. These include: “How does social media start being used, stop being used? When is it being used, and how is that usage ordered and integrated into other, parallel activities at the time?” Parallel activities refer to occurrences in co-located groupware and ubiquitous computing technologies like social media. By examining these sequential and parallel activities in user groups on social media networks, we then have the ability to “[manage] the experience of that everyday life.” An important takeaway from this paper on EMCA and sequentiality is that it reveals how the choices made by designers of social media apps ultimately mediates our end-user experience, for better or for worse. More to the point, it reveals: “when content is posted and sequentially what is associated with it.”
Ubiquitous Computing Infrastructures
On the topic of computing infrastructures, Democratizing Ubiquitous Computing - a Right for Locality presents a study from researchers at Lancaster University on ubiquitous computing ("ubicomp") to identify where there exists positive or negative effects on users and society at large. The research specifically focuses on cities or urban areas as they are places where one can expect a lot of technological and social activities to take place. An apparent guiding principle to the research is that the goal of advancing any ubicomp technologies should be to maximize the amount of good to as many people in a society as possible. A key observation is made about the way in which these infrastructures come into being:
A ubiquitous computing infrastructure can play an important role in enabling and enhancing beneficial social processes as, unlike electricity, digital infrastructure enhances a society’s cognitive power by its ability to connect people and information . While infrastructure projects in the past had the idealistic notion to connect the urban realm and its communities of different ethnicity, wealth, and beliefs, Graham et al.  note the increasing fragmentation of the management and ownership of infrastructures.
This is because ubicomp has the potential to further disadvantage marginalized communities online. The current disadvantage of ubicomp infrastructures is that they do not best support urban development. Proposals to resolve these social issues include increased transparency about personal data collection as well as individual and community accountability about the data collection process in ubicomp infrastructure. Data at work: supporting sharing in science and engineering is one such paper that goes into greater depth in how we could build better infrastructures that enable open data-sharing and thus, empower its users. What this article outlines is that in building better collaborative systems that advance science and society, we are, by effect, "promoting sharing behaviors" that will encourage greater cooperation and more effective outcomes. Essentially, ubiquitous computing will reflect society and the choices it makes will influence those computing systems that are put in place. Ubiquitous computing is huge to the field of CSCW because as the barriers between physical boundaries that separate us break down with the adoption of technology, our relationships to those locations is actually strengthened. This research shows how the wider availability of ubicomp has left some unintended negative consequences that need to be sorted out at both the individual user level as well as the societal level.
Social - Technical Gap
Mark Ackerman defines the term social-technical gap as “the divide between what we know we must support socially and what we can support technically”. It is important to analyze ‘what we know we must support socially’ for a few reasons. The way interaction takes place within an in-person setting is something that cannot be easily changed unlike the way technology is able to be manipulated to fit specific needs today. There are certain norms and standards lived up to within peoples’ day to day lives, a certain part of those norms and attitudes carry over into the online world. The problem is mimicking daily communication styles and behavior into an online setting. Schmidt examines this concept within “Mind the Gap”, he states “Cooperative work is a tricky phenomenon. We are all engaged in cooperative activities of various sorts in our everyday lives and routinely observe others working together around us. We are all experts from our everyday experience. And yet this quotidian insight can be utterly misleading when applied to the design of systems to support cooperative work”. Even though everyone knows how to go about communicating in person on a day-to-day basis, it doesn’t easily translate over into cooperative work. This highlights the need for adaptability within CSCW systems, Schmidt expands on the “crucial requirement of flexibility that arises from the changing needs of the cooperative work setting”. These all tie together to highlight the gaps within CSCW.
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 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.
Adoption of groupware
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.
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.
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.
Adapting CSCW tools for intergenerational groups is a prevalent issue within all forms of CSCW. Different generations have different feelings towards technology as well as different ways to utilize technology. However, as technology has become integral to everyday tasks, it must be accessible to all generations of people. With cooperative work becoming increasingly important and diversified, virtual interaction between different generations is also expanding. Given this, many fields that utilize CSCW tools require carefully designed frameworks to account for different generations.
Many companies rely on communication and collaboration between intergenerational employees to be successful, and often this collaboration is performed using various softwares and technologies. These team-driven groupware platforms range from email and daily calendars to version control platforms, task management softwares, and more. These tools must be accessible to workplace teams virtually, with remote work becoming more commonplace.
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.
As older workers are delaying their retirement and re-entering the workforce, teams are becoming increasingly intergenerational, meaning that the creation of effective intergenerational CSCW frameworks for virtual environments is essential.
Social media tools and platforms have expanded virtual communication amongst various generations. However, with older individuals being less comfortable with CSCW tools, it is difficult to design social platforms that account for both older and younger generational social needs.
Often, these social systems focus key functionality and feature creation for younger demographics, causing issues in adaptability for older generations. In addition, with the lack of scalability for these features, the tools are not able to adapt to fit evolutional needs of generations as they age. With the difficulty for older demographics to adopt these intergenerational virtual platforms, the risk of social isolation is increased in older adults.
While systems have been created specifically for older generations to communicate amongst one another, system design frameworks are not complex enough to lend to intergenerational communication.
Technology-enhanced learning, or “e-learning”, has been an increasingly relevant topic in education, especially with the development of the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused many schools to switch to remote learning. E-learning is defined as “the use of technology to support and enhance learning practice”. It includes the utilization of many different types of information and communication technologies (ICTs) and is limited to the use of intranet and internet in the teaching and learning process. The development of content is mainly through using learning objectives to create activities, and management is through Virtual Learning Environments, Content Management Systems, and Learning Management Systems. These systems allow students and teachers to work on the same platforms and have a shared online space in which to communicate in. The delivery of content can be either asynchronous, such as email and discussion forums, or synchronous, like through chat or video conferencing. Synchronous education allows for more interactive collaboration in learning because the students can react to the instructor in real time and ask questions as they come up.
There have been three main generations to distance education, starting with the first being through postal service, the second through mass media such as the radio, television, and films, and the third being the current state of e-learning. Students now have access to interactive technologies such as audio, text, and video conferencing. These technologies have created massive changes in their use as CSCW tools. There is much more equal interaction between students and instructors, and communication between students as well, allowing for the facilitation of group projects and assignments.
Community of Inquiry Framework
E-learning has been explained by the community of inquiry (COI) framework introduced by Garrison et al. In this framework, there are three major elements: cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence.
- Cognitive presence in this framework is the measure of how well meaning is able to be constructed from the content being taught. It assumes that students have access to a large network from which to gain information from. This includes peers, instructors, alumni, and practicing professionals. E-learning has allowed this network to be easily accessible through the internet, and these connections can be made synchronously through video, audio, or texts.
- Social presence in the community of inquiry framework is how well participants can connect with one another on a social level and present themselves as “real people”. Video conferencing has been shown to increase social presence within students. One study found that “social presence in VC [Virtual Conferencing] can have a positive effect on group efficacy and performance by amplifying group cohesion”. This information is greatly useful in designing future systems, because it explains the importance of technology like video conferencing in synchronous e-learning. Groups that are able to see each other face to face have a stronger bond and are able to complete tasks faster than without it. Increasing the social presence in online education environments helps facilitate in the understanding of the content and the ability for the group to solve problems.
- Teaching presence in the COI framework contains two main functions: creation of content and the facilitation of this content. The creation of content is usually done by the instructor, but students and instructors can share the role of facilitator, especially in higher education settings. The goal of teaching presence is “to support and enhance social and cognitive presence for the purpose of realizing educational outcome”.
Virtual educational softwares and tools are becoming more readily used globally. Remote educational platforms and tools must be accessible for various generations, including children as well as guardians or teachers, yet these frameworks are not adapted to be child-friendly.
The lack of interface and design consideration for younger users causes difficulty in potential communication between children and older generations utilizing the software. This in turn leads to a decrease in virtual learning participation as well as potential diminished collaboration with peers. In addition, it may be difficult for older teachers to utilize such technology, and communicate with their students. Similar to orienting older workers with CSCW tools, it is difficult to train younger students or older teachers in utilizing virtual technology, and may not be possible for widely spread virtual classrooms and learning environments.
Tools in CSCW
Collaboration amongst peers has always been an integral aspect to getting something done. Working together not only makes the task at hand easier to accomplish, but also the work gets done more effectively as well. As computers and technology become more and more important in our lives both at college and in the workforce the communication skills change as technology allows us to stay connected across many previous barriers. Barriers to communication might have been the end of the work day, being across the country or even slow applications that are more of a hindrance than an aid. With new collaborative tools that have been tried and tested, these previous barriers to communication have been shattered and replaced with new tools that help progress collaboration. Tools that have been integral in shaping computer supported cooperative work can be split into two major categories: communication and organization.
- Communication: The ability to communicate with your coworkers while you are working is a luxury that not only has increased the speed at which tasks are accomplished, but also the accuracy of those tasks. Employees could also send pictures of code and issues over Teams when before they had to bring their computers over or the supervisor had to come to them. This one subtle change increased office productivity and communication by almost half. The ability to send more specific information faster gave the employees the ability to get more done with also much less effort for themselves. Tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack also allow people to collaborate with ease even if they are in different time zones or different geographical areas. This means that work is no longer tied to specific offices at a 9-5 job, but can be done anywhere because you have the ability to communicate with one or groups of people on a large scale.
- Organization: Apps like iCal and Reminders can help declutter a very busy work day and remind someone of the important tasks they have to get done. Organization and communication go hand in hand with one another. This application helps people miss less meetings and better plan their day because the app will warn you when two events overlap or if there is not time for an event. This takes all the hassle of scheduling your busy work day out of the equation and gives people an easy way to schedule and coordinate with one another. Also Reminders is another tool that notifies you when something is due or you need to be somewhere. The app also ties into all kinds of different electronic devices such as computers and tablets, meaning you can get reminders of things across different platforms. If you are on the same account for the app, say an office-wide account, you can even set reminders for other people as well. 
CSCW in Gaming
Collaborative mixed reality games modify the shared social experience, during which players can interact in real-time with physical and virtual gaming environments and with other multiplayer video gamers.
The group members experience effective communication practices following the availability of a common platform for expressing opinions and coordinating tasks. The technology is applicable not only in professional contexts but also in the gaming world. CSCW usually offers synchronous and asynchronous games to allow multiple individuals to compete in a certain activity across social networks. Thus, the tool has made gaming more interesting by facilitating group activities in real-time and widespread social interactions beyond geographical boundaries.
HCI, CSCW, and game studies in MMORPGs highlight the importance of avatar-mediated self-presentation in player experience. These studies have put together known two components of self-presentation in games. First, through personal choice and personalization of avatars, various social values (such as gender roles and social norms) are integrated and reflected in the player's self-image. Second, self-presentation in games conjointly options experimentation of fully new identities or reaffirmation of existing identities. For example cross-gender play, and queerness gameplay.
Computer-mediated communication in gaming settings takes place across different channels. They include structured message systems, bulletin boards, meeting rooms, and shared diaries. As such, the players can hold conversations while proceeding with the game to create a lively experience.
Guidelines for Creating Multi-User Video Games
Designing a multi-user collaborative game requires following some suggestions. Three key suggestions include Positive Interdependence, Personal Accountability, and Social Skills. Positive Interdependence is the idea of video game players on a team or in a group understanding that working together is beneficial, and that the success and failure of the group is shared equally if all members participate. An example of including a positive interdependence aspect to a video game includes, creating a common shared goal for the team to increase collaboration. The next guideline is Personal Accountability, which is the idea that each individual in a group must put forth their best effort for the team’s overall success. Some examples of incorporating Personal Accountability in a video game are including an incentive system where individual players are rewarded with additional points for completing an objective or an action that improves the team’s chances of success. The final guideline, Social Skills is the most important to consider when designing a collaborative game. An example of developing player social skills through a video game can be creating in-game situations where players have to assign roles, plan, and execute to solve the problem. By following these three guidelines (Positive Interdependence, Personal Accountability, and Social Skills) game makers can create gaming-environments which encourage collaboration and social interaction between players.
Gaming Collaborative Interactions
Game development is a collaborative and socially interactive process. In the OAM (Orange Adventure Game Maker, popular social space for Chinese game makers) community, game makers are inclined to collaborate with one another because they are interested in create games with shared common values. Furthermore, within the OAM community there is a “Blurred Boundary” between a user being a player or a game developer. The term “Blurred Boundary” has been coined by Guo Freeman from University of Cincinnati, and is used to describe the large number of game makers in the OAM community who are also players. These individuals not only provide feedback to their peers, but also play the game to understand it from a player’s perspective. Other than the game makers in the OAM community, the players are very involved with the creation of a game. Guo Freeman describes the social interactions between a game maker and player during the development stage of the game as, Interactive Crafting. This is a process in which the game maker and player actively work together to develop the storyline of a video game. The collaboration and social interactions between the game maker and player during the creation of the game allow for active feedback, and the ability for the game maker to fulfill the player's requirements.
The most collaborative and socially interactive aspect of a video game is the online communities. Popular video games often have various social groups for their diverse community of players. For example, in World of Warcraft (WOW) (a quest-based multiplayer game) the most collaborative and socially interactive aspect of the game are the “Guilds”. A “Guild” in WOW in simple terms is like an alliance or group of individuals that you are on a “team” with. By incorporating Guilds, WOW is creating opportunities for players to collaborate and interact with their team members who can be from anywhere around the world. WOW players who are associated with a Guild are more likely to play and do quests with the same Guild mates each time which creates a strong bond between players and a sense of community. These bonds and friendships formed from playing with Guild mates, not only improves collaboration within the game, it also creates a sense of belonging and community and that is the most important attribute of online gaming communities.
Standardization vs. Flexibility in CSCW
Standardization is defined as “agile processes that are enforced as a standard protocol across an organization to share knowledge and best practice.”
Flexibility is the “ability to customize and evolve processes to suit the aims of an agile team.“ While polar opposites, each proves as valuable as the other in CSCW.
Standardization and flexibility are two of the most important aspects of Computer Supported Collaborative Work tools, yet they are almost mutually exclusive. In CSCW, flexibility comes in two forms, flexibility for future change, and flexibility for interpretation. Everything we do on the internet has a level of standardization due to the internet standards. In fact, Email has its own set of standards, of which the first draft was created in 1977. No CSCW tool is perfectly flexible, and all lose flexibility in the same three levels. Either flexibility is lost when the programmer makes the toolkit, when the programmer makes the application, and/or the user’s use of the application.
Flexibility in Toolkits
Creating CSCW toolkits themselves is when flexibility of interpretation is most necessary. It is important that these tools are generic and can be used in many different ways. Another important part of a toolkit’s flexibility is the extensibility, the extent to which new components or tools can be created using the tools provided. An example of a toolkit that is flexible in how generic the tools are is Oval. Oval only has four components; objects, views, agents, and links. This toolkit was used to recreate four previously existing communication systems; The Coordinator, gIBIS, Lotus Notes, and information lens. This proved that, due to genericity in the components, Oval was able to be used to create many forms of peer to peer communication applications.
Standardization in Information Infrastructure
Information Infrastructure requires lots of standardization to make collaboration work. Since data is transferred from company to company, and even nation to nation, international standards have been put in place to make communication of data much simpler. Often one company’s data will be included in a much larger system, and this would become almost impossible without standardization. With Information Infrastructure, there is very little flexibility in potential future changes. Due to the fact that the standards have been around for decades and there are hundreds of them, it is nearly impossible to change one of the standards without greatly bothering the others.
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". CSCW also allows employees with specific expertise to be a part of teams without the concern of geographic restraints."
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 more egalitarian communication structure. 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.
Challenges in research
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.
Identifying user needs
Because organizations are so nuanced, CSCW researchers often have difficulty deciding which set(s) of tools will benefit a particular group. 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
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:
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.
Considerations for Interaction Design
Self-presentation has been studied in traditional face-to-face environments, but as society has embraced content culture, social platforms have generated new affordances for presenting oneself online. Due to technological growth, social platforms, and their increased affordances, have reconfigured the way users self-present online due to audience input, context collapse, and anonymity.
Online, audiences are physically invisible which complicates the users ability to distinguish their intended audience. Audience input, on social platforms, can range from commenting, sharing, liking, tagging, etc. LinkedIn is a platform who encourages commentary where positive feedback outweighs negative feedback on topics including career announcements. Conversely, audience input can be unwarranted which can lead to real life implications, especially for marginalized groups who are prone to both warranted and unwarranted commentary on public posts.
Context collapse occurs when previously separate audiences are united as a singular audience, making curated content with intents for one audience visible to unintended audiences. The likelihood of context collapse is especially challenging with the surge of proprietary software which introduces a conflict of interest for the users who have an ideal audience, but the platforms algorithm has a differing one. Context collapse reinforces the previous notion of user input due to the overlap of unintended user interaction. Moreover, collapsed context influences self-presentation when previously separate audiences are merged into one.
As media platforms proliferate, so do the affordances offered that directly influence how users manage their self-presentation. According to researchers, the three most influential affordances on how users present themselves in an online domain include anonymity, persistence, and visibility.
Anonymity, in terms of self-presentation and affordances, is something that “separates a person’s online identity from their offline one”. Platforms that support anonymity have users that are more likely to depict their offline self accurately online (i.e Reddit). Comparatively, platforms with less constraints on anonymity are subject to users that portray their online and offline selves differently, thus creating a “persona”. Facebook, for example, requires its users to abide by its “real-name” policy, further connecting their offline and online identities. Furthermore, being able to unequivocally associate an online persona to a real-life human contributes to how users present themselves online.
“Content persistence is the extent to which a platform affords the continued availability of content over time.”. Platforms including Instagram and Facebook are highly persistent because its users share content that remains available until they delete their post. Whereas, Snapchat is a lower persistence platform because content is ephemeral causing users to post content that represents their offline self more accurately. This affordance strongly affects users' self-presentation management because they recognize content can be openly accessed on platforms that are highly persistent.
On social platforms, visibility is created when information is acquired with little effort, an example being a hashtag. When content is visible, users become aware of their self-presentation and will adjust their content accordingly. However, some platforms give their users leverage in specifying how visible their content is, thus affording for visibility control. For example Snapchat and Instagram both allow users to build a “close friends list” and block specific people from viewing content. Nonetheless, intended audiences are never guaranteed. Facebook is an example of a platform that shares content to both primary (e.g. direct friends) and secondary viewers (e.g. friends of friends). The concern of visibility with Facebook's algorithm is notably challenging for marginalized groups because of such blurred visibility mechanisms. In addition, users face privacy concerns relative to visibility given the current era of screenshotting.
Gender and CSCW
In computer-supported cooperative work, there are small psychological differences between how men and women approach CSCW programs. This can lead to unintentionally biased systems, due to the majority of software being designed and tested by men. As well, in systems where societal gender differences are not accounted for and countered, men tend to overpower women in these online spaces. This can lead to women feeling potentially alienated and unfairly targeted by CSCW programs.
In recent years, more studies have been conducted on how men and women interact with each other using CSCW systems. While there have been no findings to indicate that there is a performance difference between men and women while performing CSCW tasks, each sex approaches and interacts with software differently. In general, men were more exploratory of their potential choices and willing to take risks, while women were markedly less so. In group tasks, women in general were found to be far more conservative in voicing their opinions and suggestions on tasks when paired with a male, but inversely were very communicative when paired with another woman. As well, men are more likely to take control of group activities and teamwork, even from a young age, leading to further ostracizing of women speaking up in CSCW group work. This phenomenon is not limited to just group tasks. In CSCW message boards, men on average posted more messages and engaged more frequently than their female counterparts.
Increasing Female Participation
While this is not a software issue per se, and is more driven by the dynamics of women in the workforce as a whole, software can be designed with an emphasis on encouraging female participation. In software design, the greater the emphasis that is placed on communication and cooperation, the more likely it becomes that women become more involved. By emphasizing aspects of programs that girls traditionally enjoy in communications (particularly teamwork, writing, and creative solutions), you are able to increase female participation to almost the level of males. However, this is only a singular solution for a singular issue, and does not solve the overarching problem.
In general, women generally rated themselves as being poor at understanding technology, having difficulty at using mobile programs, and in disliked using software. However, when asked these same questions about specific software in general, they rated themselves just as strongly as the men in the study did. This lack of confidence in software as a whole impacts women’s ability to efficiently and effectively use online programs, and accounts for some of the difficulties women face in using CSCW software.
Despite being an active area of research since the 1990’s, many developers often do not take gender differences into account when designing their CSCW systems. These issues compound on top of the cultural problems mentioned previously, and lead to further difficulties for women in CSCW. By enabling developers to be more aware of the differences and difficulties facing women in CSCW design, more progress can be made in allowing women to be effective users of CSCW systems through sharing and voicing opinions.
Since 2010, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has hosted a yearly conference on CSCW. From 1986-2010, it was held biannually. The conference is currently held in October or November and features 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, 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 (IEEE) sponsors the International Conference on Computer Supported Work in Design, which takes place yearly. In addition, the European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies sponsors the European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work, which has been held every two years since 1989. CSCW panels are a regular component of conferences of the adjacent field of Science and Technology Studies.
- Collaborative working environment
- Collaborative working system
- Collaborative software
- Collaborative innovation network
- Collaborative information seeking
- Computer-supported collaboration
- Commons-based peer production
- Electronic meeting system
- Integrated collaboration environment
- Knowledge management
- Mass collaboration
- Pervasive informatics
- Participatory design
- Social peer-to-peer processes
- Virtual research environment
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- Most cited papers
The 47 CSCW Handbook Papers. 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" 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.
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- CSCW Conference, ACM CSCW Conference Series
- European CSCW Conference Foundation, European CSCW Conference Series
- GROUP Conference
- COOP Conference
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