The Intellectual Challenge of CSCW
The Gap Between Social Requirements and Technical Feasibility
Mark S. Ackerman
Erstpublikation in: Human-Computer Interaction, Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 179–203
According to Ackerman, social activity is flexible, nuanced, contextualized and fluid. People prefer to know who else is present in a shared environment, they are very concerned about how and with whom they wish to share information, and they will sometimes resist articulating their real goals. Therefore, incentives are crucial to the success of CSCW systems. People will not share information if they do not get a benefit or reward.
On the other hand, technical systems are rigid and often awkward to use. It is normally not possible to adjust the level of privacy or awareness. People might want their co-workers to know whether they are online but not their manager. Other problems of CSCW systems are for example concurrency issues - several persons work on the same document, and the lack on contextual information - informal communication is missing in CSCW environments, distant co-workers are often more heterogeneous in terms of both knowledge and skills.
The article provides hints on how to overcome some of the shortcomings of CSCW. Features like chat, buddy-list and other communication tools help people to feel less distant and to share a certain amount of context. Ackerman calls these features “first-order approximations” because they do not solve the major problems of CSCW but approximate real-life social settings. He then argues that the socio-technical gap creates an opportunity for CSCW to become a true "science of the artificial", a term introduced by Herbert Simons in 1969.
Ackerman has written a concise overview of CSCW. Novices get a useful introduction to the social and technical findings of the field. The author illustrates clearly that CSCW has an inherent socio-technical gap that cannot be bridged by some merely technical means. However, the call for a CSCW science is slightly exaggerative. [from http://www.elearning-reviews.org/topics/human-computer-interaction/usability/2000-ackerman-intellectual-challenge-cscw/]
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KB IB clear
|Neil Postman, Herbert Simon|
KB IB clear
|Computervermittelte Kommunikationcomputer mediated communication, CSCWComputer-supported collaborative work|
- Virtual Community Maintenance with a Repository (Derek Hansen, Mark S. Ackerman, Paul J. Resnick, Sean Munson) (2007)
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