The increased prominence of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) as a research area and the recent emergence of groupware products within the USA and Japan has highlighted the growing market for this form of IT product. It is imperative that Europe captures a significant share of this future market. To do so, future CSCW developers will need to construct effective and well-founded cooperative systems. This basic research project examines the fundamental research questions which need to be solved to improve future CSCW systems development. A central aim of the project is the development of effective support cooperative work based on an understanding of the social character of work.
Theories and techniques necessary to support the development of future computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) systems are being developed. These will be informed by a range of disciplines which combine an understanding of the nature of groups with the technology to support cooperative work within a real world setting. The project involves researchers from computer science and social science backgrounds working together on the techniques and theories to support cooperative systems development.
With respect to organizational setting, a number of different perspectives of organizations of direct relevance to the development of CSCW systems have been highlighted and contrasted. An initial framework to allow multiple perspectives of organizations has been developed.
Consideration of the effectiveness of different requirements methods for CSCW systems has been undertaken with the outlining of initial support for constructing CSCW systems requirements. Also, a wide range of available CSCW systems and products have been assessed in terms of their use of notation. This assessment will inform a set of recommendations for the use of notations in future CSCW systems.
Interaction has been considered in terms of its spatial characteristics and a spatial model of cooperation has been developed. In addition, interaction has been studied in terms of the use of shared objects and of a service to support this sharing is being developed.
APPROACH AND METHODS
To lay the foundation for the future development of CSCW systems, COMIC's approach is to examine the practical and theoretical problems which need to be overcome to allow effective CSCW product development. This research will be undertaken in a multi-disciplinary manner by a strong team of key CSCW researchers.
COMIC will concentrate on the development of CSCW systems designed to work within a real-world context. The project combines an understanding of work practice with an investigation of future technical infrastructures for CSCW. To maximise the effect of the research being undertaken, the project focuses on four key research topics in CSCW systems development:
- the organisational setting of CSCW systems
- the derivation of requirements for the design and development of CSCW systems
- the assessment and augmentation of notations to describe and represent cooperative activities
- the development of novel interaction mechanisms for CSCW.
This work necessitates the effort of a strong multi-disciplinary team of CSCW researchers. Each of themes are been examined from a different disciplinary perspective in order to inform cooperative systems development.
This basic research project will result in recommendations, new techniques, architectures and demonstrators of direct applicability for future CSCW developments. Results of the project will provide an understanding of the relationship between cooperative work and supporting technology. They will also inform future methods for the development of CSCW systems and the different technologies required to support them.
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