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

Paper Report

Title: Observation of Executives Using a Computer Supported Meeting Environment
Authors: Marilyn Mantei
Citation: Decision Support Systems 5 (1989) pp. 153-166.
Reprinted in: Baecker, R.M., Readings in Groupware and Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, pp. 695-708

This paper look into the behavior of executives using Capture Lab, a computer supported meeting environment, for meetings. The design of Capture Lab focused on the seating arrangements, the inter-viewing distances, and the electronic blackboard access protocols. The goal was to build a room environment that was close to the meeting environment that the participants were accustomed to.

The first interesting observations showed that different power structures in a meeting take on different seating arrangements. Oval seating are used by parity participants, and semi-circular seating used by participants who have unequal power position.

The inter-viewing arrangements between participants also played an important role. To reduce visual distance perception different colors were used for the paneling, carpet, and table. Different monitor sizes and arrangements are also considered to reduce the occluding terminals. Another interesting observation was that managers were restless during the meeting until they located the new power seat in the room.

Instead of using WYSIWIS, the author chose a sequential nature of input. The author believed that it would encourage a focus on the group product and establish time for verbal commentary on each piece of input. A pre-emptive electronic interruption protocol was also used. The use electronic blackboard generated three types of meetings: the Interactive Meeting, the Rotating Scribe Meeting, and the Designated Scribe Meeting.

It will be interesting the see what the observations would be if laptops or notebooks were used in the Capture Lab. How would they handle the different software and hardware configurations? Will ownership play a major role?

Report prepared by: Yew Kuan Choo Email: ykchoo@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: 03-26-97 Report date: 03-28-97