What is CSCW and Groupware?


CSCW is an acronym that stands for Computer Supported Cooperative Work. It is the scientific discipline that motivates and validates groupware design. Put another way, it is a science that involves describing how to develop groupware applications. CSCW is also concerned with the study and theory of how people work together, and how groupware affects group behavior.

CSCW is technology independant which means technology is not the major driving force behind the discipline. Instead, CSCW is socially dependant. It looks at the way people interact and collaborate with each other, and attempts to develop guidelines for developing technology to assist in the communication process.


Groupware is the hardware and software which supports and augments group work. Groupware applications are not meant to replace people in an interactive situation. Rather, groupware is an extension or an enhancement tool for the collaboration process. Groupware consists of "group oriented" products designed to assist groups of people working together. These types of products are very different from single user applications which isolate the user and restrict the user to performing independant tasks.
Last updated on March 8, 1995