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Über dieses Buch

Information technology has been used in organisational settings and for organisational purposes such as accounting, for a half century, but IT is now increasingly being used for the purposes of mediating and regulating complex activities in which multiple professional users are involved, such as in factories, hospitals, architectural offices, and so on. The economic importance of such coordination systems is enormous but their design often inadequate. The problem is that our understanding of the coordinative practices for which these systems are developed is deficient, leaving systems developers and software engineers to base their designs on commonsensical requirements analyses. The research reflected in this book addresses these very problems. It is a collection of articles which establish a conceptual foundation for the research area of Computer-Supported Cooperative Work.



Progress report

Chapter 1. Cooperative Work and Coordinative Practices

Over the last few decades, the interests and concerns of researchers from areas or disciplines that are otherwise rather disparate have been converging on at set of issues that are closely related, in practical terms as well as conceptually, and which all somehow center upon cooperative work practices.
Kjeld Schmidt

Surveying the connections

Chapter 2. Riding a Tiger, or Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (1991)

The idea of supporting cooperative work by means of computer systems—the very idea!—can be compared with riding a tiger. Cooperative work may seem familiar and tame. And in fact, a plethora of languages and schemes has been furnished that confidently claim to provide reliable models of organizational roles and patterns of communication.
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 3. Taking CSCW Seriously: Supporting Articulation Work (1992)

While the area of Computer Supported Cooperative Work, or CSCW, appears to have established itself as a research field in its own right over the last few years, judging from the wealth of conferences and papers devoted to the topic, confusions concerning the very nature of the field continue to surface.
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 4. The Organization of Cooperative Work (1994)

Beyond the ‘Leviathan’ Conception of the Organization of Cooperative Work
The current comprehensive transformation of the political economy of modern industrial society is engendering a new regime of demands and constraints on the realm of work. The business environment of modern manufacturing, for instance, is becoming rigorously demanding as enterprises are faced with increasingly global competition, contracting product life cycles, radical product diversification, and the need to pamper customers—with the concomitant transformation of the organization of production towards order-driven production bordering on custom-tailoring, insignificant or completely eradicated inventories and buffer stocks, shortened lead times, dwindling batch sizes approximating batches of one, concurrent processing of multiple different products and orders, and so forth (Ohmae, 1985; Gunn, 1987; Best, 1990; Womack et al., 1990).
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 5. Coordination Mechanisms (1996)

Towards a Conceptual Foundation of CSCW Systems Design
A major research issue in CSCW is to understand how computer systems can be instrumental in reducing the complexity of coordinating cooperative activities, individually conducted and yet interdependent.
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 6. Of Maps and Scripts (1997)

The Status of Formal Constructs in Cooperative Work
Thanks to impressive CSCW systems such as TeamWorkStation (Ishii, 1990), GroupDesk (Fuchs et al., 1995), wOrlds (Fitzpatrick et al., 1996), and TeamRoom (Roseman and Greenberg, 1996), to name but a few, it is by now widely accepted that computer artifacts can provide effective support for cooperative work by offering a ‘shared space’ through which actors can interact directly, i.e., by means of generic competencies such as talking, gesturing, pointing, monitoring etc., without other restraints than the constraints of limited bandwidth and so on.
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 7. The Critical Role of Workplace Studies in CSCW (2000)

While there is no question that workplace studies play a prominent role in computer-supported cooperative work or CSCW, the exact nature of this role has been a subject of much reflection and debate over the years. So far, the deliberation has been inconclusive, and, moreover, in the last few years a certain sense of disillusionment and even skepticism has arisen concerning the ways in which and the extent to which such studies in fact contribute to CSCW systems design.
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 8. The Problem with ‘Awareness’ (2002)

At a very early stage in the course of CSCW, it became evident that categories such as ‘conversation’ or ‘workflow’ were quite insufficient for characterizing and understanding the ways in which cooperative work is coordinated and integrated. It quickly became obvious that cooperating actors somehow, while doing their individual bits, take heed of the context of their joint effort. More specifically, the early harvest of ethnographic field studies in CSCW (e.g., Harper et al., 1989a, b; Heath and Luff, 1991a) indicated that cooperating actors align and integrate their activities with those of their colleagues in a seemingly ‘seamless’ manner, that is, without interrupting each other, for instance by asking, suggesting, requesting, ordering, reminding, etc. others of this or that.
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 9. Remarks on the Complexity of Cooperative Work (2002)

Cooperative work, as an aspect of human ecology, seems to have existed in human societies for hundreds of thousands of years, but until recently only as a marginal phenomenon. Work has, of course, been socially situated and socially organized in all human societies, and ‘cooperation’ as the sharing of the fruits of our toil is arguably constitutive of human sociality (Reynolds, 1981).
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 10. Ordering Systems (2004)

Coordinative Practices and Artifacts in Architectural Design and Planning
For years, mainstream CSCW research has been focusing on understanding and developing technologies that can support the immediate interaction in small groups. In fact, the field has often been defined in terms of ‘group work’(e.g., Greif, 1988b) or even ‘small groups’ (e.g., Grudin, 1994, 1999). Face-to-face conversation is implicitly taken as the paradigm of human interaction, and in comparison all other forms of human interaction are seen as impoverished. The motivation for this focus has generally been the putative need for technologies that can help cooperating actors to emulate such immediate interaction over physical distance.
Kjeld Schmidt

CSCW reconsidered

Chapter 11. Formation and Fragmentation

There is an old Danish maxim, befitting a nation of seafarers: ‘When there is wind, it’s time to make sail’. For CSCW, now is such a time.
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 12. Frail Foundations

CSCW, as a research area, is in disarray. Not only are there different schools of thought, but the different communities are not investigating the same phenomenon or the same kind of phenomena, nor do they engage in any kind of discourse about findings. In fact, they would not even be able to compare notes.
Kjeld Schmidt

Chapter 13. Dispelling the Mythology of Computational Artifacts

What is paralyzing CSCW is the assimilation of the normative concept of plans, schemes, schedules, and similar organizational constructs with the mechanist concept of causal determination of rational action. This leaves no conceptual room for CSCW.
Kjeld Schmidt


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