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Volume 14 / Issue 9

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DOI:   10.3217/jucs-014-09-1411


Supporting Informal Collaboration in Shared-Workspace Groupware

Carl Gutwin (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)

Saul Greenberg (University of Calgary, Canada)

Roger Blum (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)

Jeff Dyck (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)

Kimberly Tee (University of Calgary, Canada)

Gregor McEwan (University of Calgary, Canada)

Abstract: Shared-workspace groupware has not become common in the workplace, despite many positive results from research labs. One reason for this lack of success is that most shared workspace systems are designed around the idea of planned, formal collaboration sessions — yet much of the collaboration that occurs in a co-located work group is informal and opportunistic. To support informal collaboration, groupware must be designed and built differently. We introduce the idea of community-based groupware (CBG), in which groupware is organized around groups of people working independently, rather than shared applications, documents, or virtual places. Community-based groupware provides support for three things that are fundamental to informal collaboration: awareness of others and their individual work, lightweight means for initiating interactions, and the ability to move into closely-coupled collaboration when necessary. We demonstrate three prototypes that illustrate the ideas behind CBG, and argue that this way of organizing groupware supports informal collaboration better than other existing approaches.

Keywords: awareness, community-based groupware, groupware, real-time interaction

Categories: H.5.2, H.5.3