The Domain and Goals of CSCW
CSCW includes many computer science notions and technologies including HCI, networks,
multimedia, object oriented concepts, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence. These
are not the only technologies used in Groupware applications; the most appropriate technology
is used for specific cooperative communication tasks. Although several technologies may be used
in the collaboration process, CSCW technology usually
has a set of workstations networked together in some arrangement.
There are two dimensions that make up the CSCW domain:
- Real Time - This is when communication occurs at the same time.
- Asynchronous Time - This is when communication occurs at different times.
- Same Place - This is where people meet in the same room.
- Different Place - This is where a meeting occurs where the participants are in geographically distributed
World war II used computers primarily for computations such as plotting the paths of missiles. As
businesses began to adopt computer technology, the use of computers shifted to more of a data storage and
retrieval device rather then a computational machine. Currently, there is a trend to use computers for
communication. Email and the advent of the internet is sparking a new and recent explosion in the use of the computer.
Johansen (1984) stated that systems will be regarded primarily for communication, not computation. It can be debated
on both sides of the issue if Johansen is correct or not. Perhaps we are in the primary stages of a paradigm shift, where
the background of culture and tradition which guides the way people use computers is changing. The future structure of the
information super-highway will help to define this new use for computers, perhaps more then anything else.
Goals of CSCW
There are many goals that help to define CSCW, however, here is a general reason for studying CSCW:
Notice that the focus of the CSCW goal is the social interaction of people, and not the technology itself.
- The goal of CSCW is to discover ways of using computer technology to further enhance the group work process
through support in the time and place dimensions.
Satisfying CSCW Goals
The following notions and technologies help to satisfy CSCW goals:
Several other technologies and concepts contribute to satisfying CSCW goals. One of the more recent tools is Virtual Reality
technology which comes closest to making people who are in geographically distributed locations feel like they are in the
- WYSIWIS This stands for What You See Is What I See. It is analogous to two people each at their own homes
watching the same television show at the same time. Computer technology extends this concept and allows people to
interact and communicate in a WYSIWIS environment.
- Integration accross different tasks Integrating components of different tasks reduces the walls between
components of different applications and makes it seem like one large flexible tool.
- Personal Secretary This is a process that sits in the backround performing "secretary-like" services for you.
For example, the personal secretary would do things like stop unnecessary interruptions while allowing important ones
to reach you. The personal secretary would also perform "while you were out" duties taking messages for you.
- Time Management Groupware products that give you group calendar diaries and group project schedules help managers
as well as subordinates better manage their time.
- Multimedia CSCW can take advantage of the graphics and sound capabilities to provide more natural and life-like
interfaces from which to collaborate with others.
- End User Program This is concerned with making the system more personalizable to individual users. The Groupware tool
should be flexible enough so that it is user friendly to change or modify the tool to suit the user's needs. Also, the user
should be able to change the tool depending on what type of collaboration they are engaged in.
Last updated on March 8, 1995