19. groupware


a) Consider the widespread use of email. What explanations are there for its success and what lessons can be learned from its development to assist the design of other computer-mediated communication systems?

(b) What are the main issues that need to be addressed to ensure the success of email in an organisation?

answer available for tutors only

(a) Explanations may be - accessibility, familiarity of model, simplicity of concept, critical mass achieved via initially targetting identifiable community (academic). Well-understood mechanism of communication (text based).

Lessons - from some of the early problems, e.g. loss of context and emotion, losing richness of face-to-face communication - having to develop conventions and culture to compensate. On the positive side - model on familiar mechanisms, target subgroups to gain critical mass, etc.

(b) Alterations in management structures - often flattening effect from providing access both across hierarchies and up and down them. Whether this is positive or negative depends on point of view - management loses some power in favour of more flexible communication structures. Also consider critical mass, free rider problem, disproportionate effort, cooperation vs conflict, changing power structures. In each case answer should discuss typical ways of reducing effect; e.g., with free rider issue - enforce contribution or utilise peer pressure by increasing visibility.

Other exercises in this chapter

ex.19.1 (ans), ex.19.2 (ans), ex.19.3 (tut), ex.19.4 (tut), ex.19.5 (tut), ex.19.6 (tut), ex.19.7 (tut), ex.19.8 (tut), ex.19.9 (tut), ex.19.10 (tut), ex.19.11 (tut), ex.19.12 (tut), ex.19.13 (tut), ex.19.14 (tut), ex.19.15 (tut), ex.19.16 (tut), ex.19.17 (tut), ex.19.18 (tut), ex.19.19 (tut), ex.19.20 (tut)

all exercises for this chapter