Taking CSCW seriously
The topic of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) has attracted much attention in the last few years. While the field is obviously still in the process of development, there is a marked ambiguity about the exact focus of the field. This lack of focus may hinder its further development and lead to its dissipation. In this paper we set out an approach to CSCW as a field of research which we believe provides a coherent conceptual framework for this area, suggesting that it should be concerned with the support requirements of cooperative work arrangements . This provides a more principled, comprehensive, and, in our opinion, more useful conception of the field than that provided by the conception of CSCW as being focused on computer support for groups. We then investigate the consequences of taking this alternative conception seriously, in terms of research directions for the field. As an indication of the fruits of this approach, we discuss the concept of ‘articulation work’ and its relevance to CSCW. This raises a host of interesting problems that are marginalized in the work on small group support but critical to the success of CSCW systems ‘in the large’, i. e., that are designed to meet current work requirements in the everyday world.