Supporting cooperative applications

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Cooperative applications which have started to emerge from CSCW research place new demands on the computer technology used to support them. These demands raise a number of fundamental questions about the way in which computing systems provide application support. This paper examines a number of issues surrounding the support of cooperative applications and how they impact both CSCW and computer science research. In particular, the relationship between cooperative applications and the supporting techniques of distributed systems and database technology are investigated. Cooperative applications question many of the design assumptions embodied within these techniques, and ask far reaching questions of the technology. Traditionally, support systems have been unaware of cooperative activities and have hidden the actions of others from each user. This paper examines the implications of this choice and the need to consider alternative approaches to the provision of systems support. The paper concludes by highlighting a number of issues which need to be addressed both by computer science and CSCW reseachers.