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Sound Support for Collaboration

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Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands


Shared work often involves fluid transitions between relatively focussed collaboration, division of labour, general awareness and serendipitous communication. This leads to a tension in the design of software systems meant to support shared work: focussed collaboration implies the need to coordinate people's views of work objects, while division of labour requires individual control over views. A similar tension exists in the office environment as well: group engagement in the workplace depends on a shared context, but individual work is facilitated by privacy and freedom of action. Auditory cues have the potential to reduce these tensions because graphics and sound can provide two independent ways to present and obtain information. I illustrate the potential of sound in collaborative systems with observations drawn from two systems: the ARKola simulation, which explores the effects of sound on collaboration within a workstation environment
and EAR, in which auditory cues are used to increase general awareness of events and encourage group engagement within the workplace itself. These examples suggest useful functions sound can play in collaborative systems.


Gaver, William (1991): Sound Support for Collaboration. ECSCW 1991: Proceedings of the Second European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. ISBN: 978-94-011-3506-1. Full Papers. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 24-27 September 1991