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Glossary » Groupware


the property of a perceptual signal that enables it to draw attention from other activities. Perceptually, a sound or a bright flash can draw attention from people even when they are attending to something else. This property is useful for…

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in groupware systems, a person who joins a session after the session was first started. In some groupware architectures, supporting new people joining a session after the initial session setup may be difficult.

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same as delay — a measure of the time it takes for a message to be transmitted across a network. The variance of the latency is also an important measure.

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in groupware and database systems, restricting access to an object that someone else is editing to prevent conflicts, such as inconsistent changes.

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Lotus Notes

Lotus Notes is a groupware system that provides users with email, workflow, calendars, task lists, and document-sharing. Its infrastructure allows convenient flexibility in delivering these features. Lotus Notes is primarily restricted to asynchronous groupware features, and not real-time communication capabilities.…

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participating in an electronic conference (chat, mailing list, bulletin board, etc.) as only an observer and not a contributor to the discussion/interaction. Lurkers are quite common and probably a valuable use of conferencing except where the level of participation is…

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Metcalfe’s Law

the impact of a network is proportional to the square of the number of nodes, which is roughly the number of possible connections (n(n-1)/2). Proposed by Bob Metcalfe, inventor of Ethernet.

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a person who plays a gatekeeper role in group interactions. The moderator controls who has the floor and what messages and artifacts are shared with the group. The moderator may control who can enter into the group conversation (e.g. who…

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multi-user dimension (or dungeon), a virtual reality, usually text-based, populated by many people, often used for chatting or playing games with other users.

Variations include a MOO (object-oriented MUD), MUCK (multi-user chat kingdom), and MUSH (multi-user shared hallucination). While some…

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describes any application designed to be used by more than one person or to coordinate the activities of multiple users, i.e. groupware.

Some common design issues in multi-user systems include:

sharing – how information is shared and how sharing is

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N-person view

a user interface that has explicit representations of each of N users. For instance, telepointers explicitly represent the pointer positions of each of the other participants in a conversation.

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polite ways of behaving on the internet, such as:

avoiding forwarding virus warnings without checking with your system administrator reading the frequently asked questions before posting to a newsgroup including the last-updated date on any web page containing information which

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newsgroups and mailing lists

similar in spirit to email systems except that they are intended for messages among large groups of people instead of 1-to-1 communication. In practice the main difference between newsgroups and mailing lists is that newsgroups only show messages to a…

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prisoner’s dilemma

a classic problem statement describing a situation where what is rational for an individual is in conflict with what is rational for the group (as with the commons problem). This type of problem is useful for describing problems in coordinating…

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the principle of protecting private information about people, especially in shared or collaborative systems, and of helping to keep people free of distractions. Privacy may be provided for security reasons, to keep people (such as celebrities) from being deluged with…

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publish-subscribe model

a mechanism for sharing data between applications and for workgroup collaboration. Applications can “publish” their data to a file, which will automatically notify all documents that have “subscribed” to that file, and those documents then update to reflect the most…

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radar view

an indicator in a display that shows an overview, such as a map, with indicators of activities. In multi-user systems, the radar would indicate the positions of other people and possibly information about their activities.

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realtime groupware

software used to help people to work in groups, while working together at the same time. Examples include phones and videoconferencing, playing arcade games together, and shared drawing tools that allow people to see what their conversational partners are drawing…

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a design principle that suggests that users of a communications system should be on equal terms, for instance, by allowing one person to see the video of another only if the other can also see the video of the first.…

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replicated architecture

an architecture for distributed applications that uses identical copies of software running at each users station with identical views of the application for each user.

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a means of expressing that participants in a conversation come with different skills and interests and should have a user-interface that reflects their personal needs.

Roles such as chairperson, scribe, and facilitator reflect a set of access capabilities to shared…

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source code control system or version control system (vcs) or revision control system (rcs); a software application designed to help coordinate document modifications and updates among a group of people (especially coordinating updates to software source code). Source code control…

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screen scaping

converting a character-based user interface to a graphical user interface by capturing the output of a character-based system and doing a surface-level transformation into the GUI. This is a simpler approach to upgrading a legacy system than reimplementing it, but…

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sense of presence

the degree to which people feel that they are co-located with the others they are interacting with despite the fact that they are communicating over a distance using technology. The sense of presence might be enhanced, for instance, by: more…

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the process of strictly ordering events. When two users perform actions that are dependent on each other, it is crucial to decide in what order those actions occurred and to impose the same ordering in the view of each user.…

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