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Personalisable groupware: Accommodating individual roles and group differences

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Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands


For groupware to be considered successful, it must be usable and acceptable by most, if not all, members of the group. Yet the differences present between group members-their varying roles, needs, skills-and the differences between groups as a whole are a serious obstacle to achieving uniform acceptance of the groupware product, especially when the product treats all people and groups identically. This paper raises several consequences of not accommodating individual differences, and then offers a possible solution to the problem. First, instances of groupware failure are described: the inability of the group to reach a critical mass
the unequal accessibility of the groupware by participants
the failure to accommodate the different roles participants may play
the failure to balance the work done against the benefits received
and the failure of groupware to evolve with the needs of the group. Second, the notion of personalizable groupware is proposed, defined as a system whose behaviour can be altered to match the particular needs of group participants and of each group as a whole. Finally, the paper presents SHARE, a working example of personalizable groupware. SHARE is a shared screen system that offers its users a flexible choice of floor control models to help them mediate their interactions with the shared application.


Greenberg, Saul (1991): Personalisable groupware: Accommodating individual roles and group differences. 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