Social Activity in CSCW Systems

Mark S. Ackerman, Dept. of Information and Computer Science, UC Irvine

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University January 19, 1996


If Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) systems are to be successful, it will be necessary to promote ongoing, continuing activity. Even once a CSCW system gets past the critical mass problem, users must continue to find it useful and usable. Only some CSCW systems will provide the social and technical affordances necessary to promote the social maintenance required for continued use.

In this talk, I will present two inter-related streams of research. The first is social, examining an existing CSCW system (the MIT Zephyr help instance) for its social and technical mechanisms that facilitate continuing use over time. The second is technical, considering how to provide interface mechanisms for indicating social activity. I will also provide an overview of how this research fits into the design of a collaborative help and organizational memory system, Answer Garden 2.


Mark S. Ackerman is an Assistant Professor in the Computing, Organizations, Policy and Society (CORPS) group within Information and Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine . He received his Ph.D. in Information Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1993, working with Tom Malone. Prior to attending MIT, he was an R&D software engineer and manager, working on projects as diverse as the X Window System Toolkit (Xt) and the Atari Ms. Pac-Man game.


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