The World Wide Web as Enabling Technology for CSCW: The Case of BSCW
Despite the growth of interest in the field of CSCW,and the increasingly large number of systems whichhave been developed, it is still the case that fewsystems have been adopted for widespread use. This isparticularly true for widely-dispersed, cross-organisational working groups where problems ofheterogeneity in computing hardware and softwareenvironments inhibit the deployment of CSCWtechnologies. With a lightweight and extensibleclient-server architecture, client implementations forall popular computing platforms, and an existing userbase numbered in millions, the World Wide Web offersgreat potential in solving some of these problems toprovide an ‘enabling technology’ for CSCWapplications. We illustrate this potential using ourwork with the BSCW shared workspace system – anextension to the Web architecture which provides basicfacilities for collaborative information sharing fromunmodified Web browsers. We conclude that despitelimitations in the range of applications which can bedirectly supported, building on the strengths of theWeb can give significant benefits in easing thedevelopment and deployment of CSCW applications.