Human-Computer Interaction: Communication, Cooperation, and Application Design

By Hans-Jörg Bullinger; Jürgen Ziegler | Go to book overview

Concepts for Distributed Groupware Operating Systems
Burkhard Messer, Kurt SandkuhlFraunhofer Institute for Software and Systems Engineering ISST Mollstr. 1, D-10178 Berlin
1 Background
The majority of today's complex development and consulting projects involve various locations and distributed project organisation. One part of the project team usually works at the customer's location in order to analyse requirements, specify system functionality, or present project results. Another, smaller part of the team is located in the »back office«, supporting the other workers. In development projects, back office takes care of preparing and configurating hardware, negotiating contracts with sub-contractors, planning sub-projects etc. Consulting projects use back office support for all kinds of paperwork: documentation of results, preparation of transparencies for workshops, evaluation and comparison of new technologies, discussions with experts, etc. Due to their distributed character, such projects involve a significant degree of group work, thus requiring flexible and dynamically configurable mechanisms for communication, cooperation and coordination. Similar requirements can also be identified in distributed organisations with virtual business units or large project teams.In order to support this kind of distributed organisation forms, we propose the use of distributed groupware operating systems (GOS). GOS form a distributed infrastructure providing typical groupware services for planning, negotiation, evaluation and controlling, for decision support, and for group awareness. Like the fundamental elements of computer-supported cooperative work ( Ellis et al. 1991), these services can be categorised into three classes:
collaboration services: support of joint activities within a group of cooperating persons in order to achieve a common goal
coordination services: coordinating the activities of group members
communication services: facilitating communication within the group

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