CPSC 689/602--Spring 1997
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work
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:
- Purely synchronous systems -- systems that require the simultaneous presence of all users, i.e. real-time conferencing systems
- Purely asynchronous systems -- systems that support cooperation without the simultaneous presence of all users, i.e. email and electronic conferencing systems. They usually provide no additinal benefit if all users are simultaneously present.
- Mixed systems -- systems that provide a mix of the functionality of the above systems
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.
- Co-located -- require the local presence of all users, i.e. electronic meeting rooms
- Virtually co-located -- require the local presence of all users in certain places at different locations, i.e. teleconferencing
- Locally remote -- provide high-bandwidth real time accessibility between users, i.e. CoAuthor, Cruiser
- Remote -- assume only minimal accessability between users, i.e. email
Report prepared by: Tom McCollum, Email:
Discussion date: 2/19/97
Report date: 2/21/97