Groupware Essay

1485 words - 6 pages

Groupware is a technology designed to facilitate the work of groups. This technology may be used to communicate, cooperate, coordinate, solve problems, compete, or negotiate. While traditional technologies like the telephone qualify as groupware, the term is ordinarily used to refer to a specific class of technologies relying on modern computer networks, such as email, newsgroups, videophones, or chat.Groupware technologies are typically categorized along two primary dimensions:1. Whether users of the groupware are working together at the same time ("real-time" or "synchronous" groupware) or different times ("asynchronous" groupware).2. Whether users are working together in the same place ...view middle of the document...

Also, in many cases, these systems can be used together, and in fact, are intended to be used in conjunction. For example, group calendars are used to schedule videoconferencing meetings, multi-player games use live video and chat to communicate, and newsgroup discussions spawn more highly involved interactions in any of the other systems.Consider how these systems can be integrated in other ways. We are still quite far from developing the grand groupware system that encompasses every type of communication, and we will probably never get there since the possibilities are constantly evolving with changes in both our patterns of social interaction and the technology we have available.Asynchronous Groupware:Email is by far the most common groupware application. While the basic technology is designed to pass simple messages between 2 people, even relatively basic email systems today typically include interesting features for forwarding messages, filing messages, creating mailing groups, and attaching files with a message. Other features that have been explored include: automatic sorting and processing of messages, automatic routing, and structured communication.Newsgroups and mailing lists are similar in spirit to email systems except that they are intended for messages among large groups of people instead of 1-to-1 communications. In practice the main difference between newsgroups and mailing lists is that newsgroups only show messages to a user when they are explicitly requested, while mailing lists deliver messages as they become available.Workflow systems allow documents to be routed through organizations through a relatively fixed process. A simple example of a workflow application is an expense report in an organization: an employee enters an expense report and submits it, a copy is archived then routed to the employee's manager for approval, the manager receives the document, electronically approves it and sends it on and the expense is registered to the group's account and forwarded to the accounting department for payment. Workflow systems may provide features such as routing, development of forms, and support for differing roles and privileges.Group calendars allow scheduling, project management, and coordination among many people, and may provide support for scheduling equipment as well. Typical features detect when schedules conflict or find meeting times that will work for everyone. Group calendars also help to locate people. Typical concerns are privacy, completeness and accuracy.Collaborative writing systems may provide both real-time support and non-real-time support. Word processors may provide asynchronous support by showing authorship and by allowing users to track changes and make annotations to documents. Authors collaborating on a document may also be given tools to help plan and coordinate the authoring process, such as methods for locking parts of the document or linking separately authored documents. Synchronous support...

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