Mind the Gap! Towards a unified view of CSCW

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Kjeld Schmidt, Carla Simone
Rose Dieng, Alain Giboin, Laurent Karsenty, Giorgio De Michelis (eds.)
Designing Cooperative Systems: The Use of Theories and Models
Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications 58
IOS Press, Sophia Antipolis, France
23-26 May 2000

CSCW at large seems to be pursuing two diverging strategies: on one hand a strategy aiming at coordination technologies that reduce the complexity of coordinating cooperative activities by regulating the coordinative interactions, and on the other hand a strategy that aims at radically flexible means of interaction which do not regulate interaction but rather leave it to the users to cope with the complexity of coordinating their activities. As both strategies reflect genuine requirements, we need to address the issue of how the gap can be bridged, that is, how the two strategies can be integrated conceptually.
In addressing this problem, the paper discusses two general modalities of articulation work &mdash; <i>ad hoc</i> alignment and improvisation on the basis of mutual awareness versus coordination in terms of a predefined flow of work &mdash; and argues that these modalities are seamlessly meshed and blended in the course of real world cooperative activities.
On the basis of this discussion the paper outlines an approach which may help CSCW research to bridge this gap.