How People Write Together
I.R. Posner and R.M. Baeker
Sep 15, 1999


By analyzing different cases of groups of people working together to produce a document, the authors identify different activities, roles, document control strategies, and writing strategies used in the cooperative effort. Activities include, brainstorming, initial planning, writing, writing the most (as opposed to just small pieces), controlling changes, editing, and final editing. Roes include writer, consultant, editor and reviewer. The control strategies identified are: centralized, relay, independent and shared. The writing strategies include single writer, scribe, separate writers, joint writing, and consulted. The last one seems particularly used, as most projects used it at some point in time.


I think the distinction between different strategies is a useful one. Additionally, the acknowledgement that most of the time, a group will utilize more than one strategy is valuable, as it hints for the requirement of providing smooth transitions when designing software to support it. However, it's interesting that even though much effort has been invested in cooperative writing systems, must of the time, real users solve the issues through social protocols rather than through system features.