JCSCW Vol. 13 (2004)

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  • Journal Article
    The MAUI Toolkit: Groupware Widgets for Group Awareness
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, 38322) Hill, Jason; Gutwin, Carl
    Group awareness is an important part of synchronous collaboration, and support for group awareness can greatly improve groupware usability. However, it is still difficult to build groupware that supports group awareness. To address this problem, we have developed the Multi-User Awareness UI toolkit (MAUI) toolkit, a Java toolkit with a broad suite of awareness-enhanced UI components. The toolkit contains both extensions of standard Swing widgets, and groupware-specific components such as telepointers. All components have added functionality for collecting, distributing, and visualizing group awareness information. The toolkit packages components as JavaBeans, allowing wide code reuse, easy integration with IDEs, and drag-and-drop creation of working group-aware interfaces. The toolkit provides the first ever set of UI widgets that are truly collaboration-aware, and provides them in a way that greatly simplifies the construction and testing of rich groupware interfaces.
  • Journal Article
    Software Framework for Managing Heterogeneity in Mobile Collaborative Systems
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, 38322) Correa, Carlos D.; Marsic, Ivan
    Heterogeneity in mobile computing devices and application scenarios complicates the development of collaborative software systems. Heterogeneity includes disparate computing and communication capabilities, differences in users’ needs and interests, and semantic conflicts across different domains and representations. In this paper, we describe a software framework that supports mobile collaboration by managing several aspects of heterogeneity. Adopting graph as a common data structure for the application state representation enables us to develop a generic solution for handling the heterogeneities. The effect external forces, such as resource constraints and diverging user interests, can be quantified and controlled as relational and attribute heterogeneity of state graphs. When mapping the distributed replicas of the application state, the external forces inflict a loss of graph information, resulting in many-to-one correspondences of graph elements. A key requirement for meaningful collaboration is maintaining a consistent shared state across the collaborating sites. Our framework makes the best of maximizing the state consistency, while accommodating the external force constraints, primarily the efficient use of scarce system resources. Furthermore, we describe the mobility aspects of our framework, mainly its extension to peer-to-peer scenarios and situations of intermittent connectivity. We describe an implementation of our framework applied to the interoperation of shared graphics editors across multiple platforms, where users are able to share 2D and 3D virtual environments represented as XML documents. We also present performance results, namely resource efficiency and latency, which demonstrate its feasibility for mobile scenarios.
  • Journal Article
    Community-Building with Web-Based Systems – Investigating a Hybrid Community of Students
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, 38322) Rohde, Markus; Reinecke, Leonard; Pape, Bernd; Janneck, Monique
    This paper examines WiInf-Central , the ‘virtual homeplace’ of a student community (on Information Systems) at the University of Hamburg, and focuses on processes of social identity and community-building. Drawing on social-identity theory and communities of practice as our theoretical basis, we illustrate that the processes of identity-building and positive in-group evaluation triggered by WiInf-Central serve as a means for students of Information Systems to assert themselves against faculty members and students of other disciplines. While our study reveals strong mechanisms of social exclusion, inclusion mechanisms have to be assessed in a more differentiated way. In particular, our study shows the emergence of several ‘subgroups’, which appear largely closed to other community members. We ascribe this to both the self-organized and the hybrid – half virtual, half real – nature of the community based on WiInf-Central.
  • Journal Article
    Consistency Control for Synchronous and Asynchronous Collaboration Based on Shared Objects and Activities
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, 38322) Vogel, Jürgen; Geyer, Werner; Cheng, Li-Te; Muller, Michael
    We describe a new collaborative technology that bridges the gap between ad hoc collaboration in email and more formal collaboration in structured shared workspaces. Our approach is based on the notion of object-centric sharing, where users collaborate in a lightweight manner but aggregate and organize different types of shared artifacts into semi-structured activities with dynamic membership, hierarchical object relationships, as well as real-time and asynchronous collaboration. We present a working prototype that implements object-centric sharing on the basis of a replicated peer-to-peer architecture. In order to keep replicated data consistent in such a dynamic environment with blended synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, we designed appropriate consistency control algorithms, which we describe in detail. The performance of our approach is demonstrated by means of simulation results.
  • Journal Article
    Roles of Orientation in Tabletop Collaboration: Comprehension, Coordination and Communication
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, 38322) Kruger, Russell; Carpendale, Sheelagh; Scott, Stacey D.; Greenberg, Saul
    In order to support co-located collaboration, many researchers are now investigating how to effectively augment tabletops with electronic displays. As far back as 1988, orientation was recognized as a significant human factors issue that must be addressed by electronic tabletop designers. As with traditional tables, when people stand or sit at different positions around a horizontal display they will be viewing the contents from different angles. One common solution to this problem is to have the software reorient objects so that a given individual can view them ‘right way up.’ Yet is this the best approach? If not, how do people actually use orientation on tables? To answer these questions, we conducted an observational study of collaborative activity on a traditional table. Our results show that the strategy of reorienting objects to a person’s view is overly simplistic: while important, it is an incomplete view of how people exploit their ability to reorient objects. Orientation proves critical in how individuals comprehend information , how collaborators coordinate their actions , and how they mediate communication . The coordinating role of orientation is evident in how people establish personal and group spaces and how they signal ownership of objects. In terms of communication, orientation is useful in initiating communicative exchanges and in continuing to speak to individuals about particular objects and work patterns as collaboration progresses. The three roles of orientation have significant implications for the design of tabletop software and the assessment of existing tabletop systems.
  • Journal Article
    Ambiguities, Awareness and Economy: A Study of Emergency Service Work
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, No. 2, 38078) Pettersson, Mårten; Randall, Dave; Helgeson, Bo
    This paper derives from a studyundertaken at an emergency service centre byresearchers at the Blekinge Institute ofTechnology, Sweden. It forms part of a projectinvolving partners at the university and inSwedish emergency service centres. The focus inthis project was on the possibility ofdeveloping new technology for use in thesecentres. One vision for the new technology isto support distribution of calls and handlingof cases across several centres. Historicallythe work has been conducted in a number ofdifferent centres, where responsibilities arethus primarily geographically localised andwhere, as a result, practices in the differentcentres may be distinctively local. The study has focused on features of workfamiliar to the CSCW community, includingdocumenting and analysing current workpractices, understanding the properties of thetechnology in question, and perhaps mostimportantly how the technology functions inuse. Our focus in this paper exemplifies thesethemes through the analysis of three cases. Inthe first, the issue in question is the way inwhich an emergency is identified and dealtwith, it being the case that a typical problemto be dealt with by operators, and morecommonly in the days of mobile telephony, isthat of multiple reporting of a single case. Ofparticular interest here is the phenomenon oflistening-in, which is a function in theComputer Aided Dispatch system and by contrastthat of `overhearing', which is not. The secondand third cases focus on the relevance of largepaper maps, given the existence of computerizedmaps in these centres. Based on our ownanalysis and on work done by others in similarcontexts, we develop an argument for a sense oforganizational relevance that hopefullyintegrates existing analytic interests inemergency service work.
  • Journal Article
    Small-Scale Classification Schemes: A Field Study of Requirements Engineering
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, No. 1, 38047) Hertzum, Morten
    Small-scale classification schemes are used extensively in the coordination of cooperative work. This study investigates the creation and use of a classification scheme for handling the system requirements during the redevelopment of a nation-wide information system. This requirements classification inherited a lot of its structure from the existing system and rendered requirements that transcended the framework laid out by the existing system almost invisible. As a result, the requirements classification became a defining element of the requirements-engineering process, though its main effects remained largely implicit. The requirements classification contributed to constraining the requirements-engineering process by supporting the software engineers in maintaining some level of control over the process. This way, the requirements classification provided the software engineers with an important means of discretely balancing the contractual aspect of requirements engineering against facilitating the users in an open-ended search for their system requirements. The requirements classification is analysed in terms of the complementary concepts of boundary objects and coordination mechanisms. While coordination mechanisms focus on how classification schemes enable cooperation among people pursuing a common goal, boundary objects embrace the implicit consequences of classification schemes in situations involving conflicting goals. Moreover, the requirements specification focused on functional requirements and provided little information about why these requirements were considered relevant. This stands in contrast to the discussions at the project meetings where the software engineers made frequent use of both abstract goal descriptions and concrete examples to make sense of the requirements. This difference between the written requirements specification and the oral discussions at the meetings may help explain software engineers' general preference for people, rather than documents, as their information sources.
  • Journal Article
    Ordering Systems: Coordinative Practices and Artifacts in Architectural Design and Planning
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, 38322) Schmidt, Kjeld; Wagner, Ina
    In their cooperative effort, architects depend critically on elaborate coordinative practices and artifacts. The article presents, on the basis of an in-depth study of architectural work, an analysis of these practices and artifacts and shows that they are multilaterally interrelated and form complexes of interrelated practices and artifacts which we have dubbed ‘ordering systems’. In doing so, the article outlines an approach to investigating and conceiving of such practices.
  • Journal Article
    Increasing Workplace Independence for People with Cognitive Disabilities by Leveraging Distributed Cognition among Caregivers and Clients
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, 38322) Carmien, Stefan; DePaula, Rogério; Gorman, Andrew; Kintsch, Anja
    This paper describes a group configuration that is currently employed to support the everyday living and working activities of people with cognitive disabilities. A client receiving face-to-face, often one-to-one, assistance from a dedicated human job coach is characteristic of this “traditional” configuration. We compare it with other group configurations that are used in cooperative and distributed work practices and propose an alternative configuration titled active distributed support system . In so doing, we highlight requirements that are unique to task support for people with cognitive disabilities. In particular, we assert that the knowledge of how to perform such activities is shared not only among people, but also between people and artifacts. There is a great potential for innovative uses of ubiquitous and mobile technologies to support these activities. A survey of technologies that have been developed to provide these individuals with greater levels of independence is then presented. These endeavors often attempt to replace human job coaches with computational cognitive aids. We discuss some limitations of such approaches and present a model and prototype that extends the computational job coach by incorporating human caregivers in a distributed one-to-many support system.
  • Journal Article
    Organizational Memory as Objects, Processes, and Trajectories: An Examination of Organizational Memory in Use
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 13, No. 2, 38078) Ackerman, Mark S.; Halverson, Christine
    For proper knowledge management, organizations must consider how knowledge is kept and reused. The term organizational memory is due for an overhaul. Memory appears to be everywhere in organizations; yet, the term has been limited to only a few uses. Based on an ethnographic study of a telephone hotline group, this paper presents a micro-level, distributed cognition analysis of two hotline calls, the work activity surrounding the calls, and the memory used in the work activity. Drawing on the work of Star, Hutchins, and Strauss, the paper focuses on issues of applying past information for current use. Our work extends Strauss' and Hutchins' trajectories to get at the understanding of potential future use by participants and its role in current information storage. We also note the simultaneously shared provenance and governance of multiple memories – human and technical. This analysis and the theoretical framework we construct should be to be useful in further efforts in describing and analyzing organizational memory within the context of knowledge management efforts.