Building computer tools for collaborative work requires re-examining the design assumptions currently used to build tools for individual use. As the Internet expands, the need for effective group communication grows as more and more people use computer networks as a vehicle for accomplishing joint work. Yet, utilizing popular programs often leads to limiting and counterproductive results. Many people cite the experience as frustrating. Naturalistic observations of how people actually engage existing computer tools while working jointly towards a common goal, revealed a new design for a networked computer tool that directly supports such activities. We examined the issues raised during these naturalistic observations, reviewed current collaboration tools, and explored a modified web browser that supports team productivity. We drew on material from social psychology and computer science. Examples included joint writing projects, teacher-student interactions, and doctor-to-doctor consultations. Products reviewed included Timbuktu, Lotus Notes, VideoDraw, and VideoMail.
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Last modified 7/5/95 by Sweeney