CPSC 689/602--Spring 1997
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work


Paper Report

Title: Groupware: some issues and experiences
Authors: Ellis, C.A., Gibbs, S.J., and Rein, G.L.
Citation: Communications of the ACM, 34, 1 (January 1991), pp. 38-58.
Reprinted in: Baecker, R.M. Readings in Groupware and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers, San Francisco, 1993, pp. 9-28.


Applications that allow people to work together without regard to geographical boundaries are increasingly becoming important as the world develops into a "global village". These systems are known as groupware and the study of such systems is known as Computer Support Cooperative Work (CSCW). This paper is divided into five sections, and introduces the field of CSCW and groupware as well as major the research issues.

The overview defines groupware, and presents a groupware spectrum where different systems lie at different points on the spectrum depending on the amount of support for common tasks and shared environments.

The second section introduces two groupware taxonomies. In the time-space taxonomy, groupware is classified into systems that provide face-to-face interaction, asynchronous interaction, synchronous distributed interaction, and asynchronous distributed interaction. In the application-level taxonomy, groupware is classified according to the type of functionality provided such as message systems and multiuser editors.

Groupware relies on multidisciplinary research, and the third section discusses five major disciplines: distributed systems, human-computer interaction, artificial intelligence and social theory. It describes how these disciplines contribute to groupware research and the issues they address.

GROVE (a multiuser outline editor) is introduced in the fourth section with the aim of applying groupware concepts to a real application. Lessons learnt from observing users are also discussed.

The final section presents issues pertinent to the successful development of groupware, for example, the design of group interfaces. Approaches to tackling these issues and potential problems developers may face are addressed.


Report prepared by: Dion Goh            Email: diong@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: 1/17/97            Report date: 1/18/97