JCSCW Vol. 11 (2002)

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  • Journal Article
    A Descriptive Framework of Workspace Awareness for Real-Time Groupware
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 37500) Gutwin, Carl; Greenberg, Saul
    Supporting awareness of others is an idea that holds promise forimproving the usability of real-time distributed groupware.However, there is little principled information available aboutawareness that can be used by groupware designers. In thisarticle, we develop a descriptive theory of awareness for thepurpose of aiding groupware design, focusing on one kind of groupawareness called workspace awareness . We focus on how smallgroups perform generation and execution tasks in medium-sizedshared workspaces – tasks where group members frequently shiftbetween individual and shared activities during the work session.We have built a three-part framework that examines the concept ofworkspace awareness and that helps designers understand theconcept for purposes of designing awareness support in groupware.The framework sets out elements of knowledge that make upworkspace awareness, perceptual mechanisms used to maintainawareness, and the ways that people use workspace awareness incollaboration. The framework also organizes previous research onawareness and extends it to provide designers with a vocabularyand a set of ground rules for analysing work situations, forcomparing awareness devices, and for explaining evaluationresults. The basic structure of the theory can be used todescribe other kinds of awareness that are important to theusability of groupware.
  • Journal Article
    Supporting Public Availability and Accessibility with Elvin: Experiences and Reflections
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 2002) Fitzpatrick, Geraldine; Kaplan, Simon; Mansfield, Tim; Arnold, David; Segall, Bill
    We provide a retrospective account of how a generic event notification service called Elvin and a suite of simple client applications: CoffeeBiff, Tickertape and Tickerchat, came to be used within our organisation to support awareness and interaction. After overviewing Elvin and its clients, we outline various experiences from data collated across two studies where Elvin and its clients have been used to augment the workaday world to support interaction, to make digital actions visible, to make physical actions available beyond the location of action, and to support content and socially based information filtering. We suggest there are both functional and technical reasons for why Elvin works for enabling awareness and interaction. Functionally, it provides a way to produce, gather and redistribute information from everyday activities (via Elvin) and to give that information a perceptible form (via the various clients) that can be publicly available and accessible as a resource for awareness. The integration of lightweight chat facilities with these information sources enables awareness to easily flow into interaction, starting to re-connect bodies to actions, and starting to approximate the easy flow of interaction that happens when we are co-located. Technically, the conceptual simplicity of the Elvin notification, the wide availability of its APIs, and the generic functionality of its clients, especially Tickertape, have made the use of the service appealing to developers and users for a wide range of uses.
  • Journal Article
    Introduction to the Special Issue on Activity Theory and the Practice of Design
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 2002) Redmiles, David
  • Journal Article
    Configuring Awareness
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 2002) Heath, Christian; Svensson, Marcus Sanchez; Hindmarsh, Jon; Luff, Paul; vom Lehn, Dirk
    The concept of awareness has become ofincreasing importance to both social andtechnical research in CSCW. The concept remainshowever relatively unexplored, and we stillhave little understanding of the ways in whichpeople produce and sustain `awareness' in andthrough social interaction with others. In thispaper, we focus on a particular aspect ofawareness, the ways in which participantsdesign activities to have others unobtrusivelynotice and discover, actions and events, whichmight otherwise pass unnoticed. We consider forexample how participants render visibleselective aspects of their activities, how theyencourage others to notice features of thelocal milieu, and how they encourage others tobecome sensitive to particular events. We drawexamples from different workplaces, primarilycentres of coordination; organisationalenvironments which rest upon the participants'abilities to delicately interweave a complexarray of highly contingent, yet interdependentactivities.
  • Journal Article
    Conventions and Commitments in Distributed CSCW Groups
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 37500) Mark, Gloria
    Conventions are necessary to establish in any recurrentcooperative arrangement. In electronic work, they are importantso as to regulate the use of shared objects. Based on empiricalresults from a long-term study of a group cooperating inelectronic work, I present examples showing that the group failedto develop normative convention behavior. These difficulties informing conventions can be attributed to a long list of factors:the lack of clear precedents, different perspectives among groupmembers, a flexible cooperation media, limited communication, thedesign process, and discontinuous cooperation. Further, I arguethat commitments to the conventions were difficult, due to theconventions not reaching an acceptance threshold, uneven payoffs,and weak social influences. The empirical results call for aspecific set of awareness information requirements to promoteactive learning about the group activity in order to support thearticulation of conventions. The requirements focus on the roleof feedback as a powerful mechanism for shaping and learningabout group behavior.
  • Journal Article
    NetWORKers and their Activity in Intensional Networks
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 37316) Nardi, Bonnie A.; Whittaker, Steve; Schwarz, Heinrich
    Through ethnographic research, we document therise of personal social networks in theworkplace, which we call intensionalnetworks . Paradoxically, we find that the mostfundamental unit of analysis forcomputer-supported cooperative work is not at the group level for many tasks andsettings, but at the individual level aspersonal social networks come to be more andmore important. Collective subjects areincreasingly put together through theassemblage of people found through personalnetworks rather than being constituted as teamscreated through organizational planning andstructuring. Teams are still important butthey are not the centerpiece of labormanagement they once were, nor are they thechief resource for individual workers. We drawattention to the importance of networks as mostCSCW system designs assume a team. We urge thatdesigners take account of networks and theproblems they present to workers.
  • Journal Article
    Realist Activity Theory for Digital Library Evaluation: Conceptual Framework and Case Study
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 37316) Spasser, Mark A.
    A critical yet largely unexamined facet of digital library design anduse is how library content is assembled and vetted, which in turn hasprofound implications for ongoing digital library usefulness and usability.This article presents a social realist evaluation framework for anactivity theoretic case study of the Flora of North America digitallibrary. Social realist evaluation is a relatively new evaluationparadigm, positing that outcomes follow from mechanisms acting incontingently configured contexts. Because this study focuses on thedigital library content vetting process, a significant part of thepresent analysis concerns the publication subsystem of the Flora ofNorth America digital library – Collaborative Publishing Services –and how problems related to its design and use facilitates our abilityto explain the Flora of North America not only as a functioning digitallibrary project, but as a contradiction-driven organizational form inexpansive development. Activity theory is a philosophical and cross-disciplinaryframework for studying different forms of human practices in a multi-level,stratified manner, developmentally in time and through space. This intensivecase study of the Flora of North America digital library illustrates thatwhile social realism, itself content-neutral mechanics of explanation,provides a real foundation for activity theoretic analyses of workand technology, activity theory supplies a conceptually and substantivelyrich vocabulary for explanatory reasoning about technologically mediatedsocial practices, such as digital library assemblage and use.
  • Journal Article
    Provocative Awareness
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 2002) Gaver, Bill
    Recently a number of systems have been designedthat connect remote lovers, or strangers in anurban setting. The forms these systems take andthe functions they serve may be unfamiliar, butthey can be seen as extensions of awarenesstechnologies to new domains. Awarenesstechnologies have often been specialised togive information for particular work activitiesor relationships. Given that relationships inthe home or in local communities tend to bedifferent from those of the workplace, it isappropriate that both the form and content ofinformation conveyed to increase awarenessshould be different as well. The systemsdescribed here, for instance, explore newsensory and interaction possibilities, useambiguity to increase engagement, and address awider range of emotional relationships than domost workplace awareness systems. They pointto ways of extending notions of peripheralawareness to new domains on the one hand, andpossibilities for new forms of workplaceawareness on the other.
  • Journal Article
    Activity Theory and Distributed Cognition: Or What Does CSCW Need to DO with Theories?
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 2002) Halverson, Christine A.
    This essay compares activity theory (AT) with distributed cognitiontheory (DCOG), asking what each can do for CSCW. It approaches this task by proposing that theories – when viewed as conceptual tools formaking sense of a domain – have four important attributes: descriptivepower; rhetorical power; inferential power; and application power.It observes that AT and DCOG are not so different: both emphasizecognition; both include the social and cultural context of cognition;both share a commitment to ethnographically collected data. Startingwith a description of the distributed cognition approach, it uses anexample of a DCOG analysis to ground a discussion of the strengths andweaknesses of AT and DCOG as an approach to issues in CSCW. Finally,the essay considers what theoretical work is being done by theattributes of the respective theories, and whether AT, DCOG, or anytheory developed outside the context of group work, will workfor CSCW.
  • Journal Article
    Integrating Awareness in Cooperative Applications through the Reaction-Diffusion Metaphor
    (Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW): Vol. 11, 37500) Simone, Carla; Bandini, Stefania
    The paper discusses the notion of awarenessfrom the point of view of the design of asupportive technology. This perspectiverequires a deeper understanding of the ways andmeans people adopt to deal with awarenessinformation as well as considering theintegration of awareness tools with toolssupporting other forms of coordination. First,we suggest to consider two types of awareness:by-product awareness that is generated in thecourse of the activities people must do inorder to accomplish their cooperative tasks;and add-on awareness that is the outcome of anadditional activity, which is a neat cost forthe cooperating actors in relation to what theymust do and is discretional in that it dependson actors' evaluation of the contingentsituation. Secondly, we propose areaction-diffusion metaphor to describe theawareness phenomenology and to take intoaccount the two above-mentioned types ofawareness integration. The model ofawareness derived from the metaphor makesvisible and accessible by different types ofusers a set of elemental primitives whoseflexible composition allows them to constructthe awareness mechanisms they dynamically need. These primitives are incorporated in a softwaremodule that can be used in combination withcoordinative applications for sake of promotingawareness information. The main architectureof the module is presented together with itsinteroperability with the target application;moreover, a simple example illustrates how theincorporated primitives can be used to buildawareness mechanisms.