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


Paper Report

Title: CSCW and Distributed Systems: The Problem of Control
Authors: Tom Roddenmn and Gordon Blair
Citation: Rodden, T. and Blair, G. (1991). CSCW and Distributed Systems: The Problem of Control. In Bannon, L., Robinson, M., and Schmidt, K. (Eds.) (1991). ECSCW '91. Proceedings of the Second European Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work. Kluwer Academic Publishers., pp. 49-64.
Reprinted in: Readings in Groupware and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work: Assisting Human-Human Collaboration by Ronald M. Baecker on pp. 389-396


This article covers the relationship between CSCW application requirements and the structure of the current and future distributed systems. It starts of by identifying the type of CSCW activities. It divides CSCW along two dimensions. The first of these dimensions in the type of cooperation. They identify three broad types of CSCW systems that support various types of cooperation. These systems are listed below: The second dimension which they divide CSCW along is the geographical nature of the group support. They list four catagories listed below: Next, the authors discuss the relationship between CSCW systems and distributed systems. The main problem which they site with current distributed systems is that they are designed to hide all aspects of the distributed nature of the system. For example, remote printers appear local and remote files or file systems appear to reside on a users local machine. These efforts are primarily to make it appear that a user is alone on a machine. This conflicts with the need for CSCW applications to allow cooperation among a group of users. Future distributed systems need to give CSCW programmers the ability to decide what aspects of the system they want to be conceled from their application. This will facilitate CSCW application development. However, distributed systems should not be totally redesigned as there are many current applications that are useful which should continue to work on the redesigned networks. Therefore, the functionality of distributed systems should be expanded while retaining all of the current functionality.
Report prepared by: Tom McCollum, Email: tommc@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: 2/19/97            Report date: 2/21/97