A good question
Just where are the backchannel logs, anyway?
Collaborative tools, corporate IT, and random bits
Just where are the backchannel logs, anyway?
Jack Vinson has been ruminating about the perfect aggregator. I like his blog threading points:
10x10 makes it hard to ignore even the inherently dull
Adam Bosworth posted his talk at the International Conference on Service Oriented Computing. You need to read the whole thing. Now. Really.
I emailed the quoted bit below yesterday to some of my co-workers in response to one of them sending me the article in question. I should have blogged it. Tim Bray and David Weinberger did.
Hmmm. This great scholar mocks an entire work by extrapolating from one article. Now that's the sort of impressive research and better than "sophomoric" writing I expect from the Encyclopædia Britannica. So, unlike the esteemed Britannica editor, I will actually point you to more than one reference from which you may draw your conclusions:
Wikipedia tops Britannica on 5 of 6 articles, but Britannica is more consistent. Lots of good comments.
The more political an article may be, the iffier the content
A Wikipedia contributor writes about Wikipedia and accuracy (Okay, I just scanned this one, but I'm still ahead of the Britannica guy.)
I feel the need to join the chorus praising Tim Bray's effort to kick the Atom spec to the next step in the IETF standards process. From Tim's blog post:
Ever since then, I’ve been convinced that standards organizations shouldn’t try to invent technology. (The W3C, which is jam-packed with super-smart people, has produced some horrible, damaging standards when they’ve tried to get too inventive.) The right role for a standards body is to wait till the implementors have deployed things and worked out the hard bits, then write down the consensus on what works and what doesn’t.
I was really looking forward to this talk -- Hacking the Law to Rebuild a Free Culture. Those who had to leave early were not happy at all about missing it.
First up was a CMU study of cross-cultural impacts in collaboration. The differences they looked at were High or low context, task or relationship focuses, and individualist or collectivist. They used Americans (including Canadians) and mainlaind Chinese for the study, since they were the most diametrically opposed. The participants communicated via F2F or IM. The study had several hypotheses. Here are a few of them:
Another case where there are two sessions I want to be in. The first is a panel discussion of digital backchannels in shared physical spaces. The other is a paper session on interruptions. Oh, well. I guess I can just read the papers.
This session is on distributed collaboration. Yea!!!
I spent this session going back and forth between rooms, so I could catch the security paper for Guy.
First up was a study of increasing participation in a social community using Movielens as a source for two studies. The first one focused on generic encouragement. Unexpectedly, emphasing the individual's uniqueness and personal benefit produced a negative effect. One potential issue is that they were mentioning extrinsic benefits and mayber raters had intrinsic benefits for rating movies. The second study focused on goal setting. As expected, specific goals produced better results than "do your best" goals. Surprisingly, those with group goals actually outperformed. There was very wide variability in individual raters. Design implications: embed goals. An interesting question was raised: is undercontribution a bad thing? If everyone rates, are the ratings less valuable? The speaker disagreed.
I have a bunch of notes from earlier sessions, but they need a lot of cleaning up before they are blog-ready. I plan to get those posted tomorrow morning before the sessions start, but there are no guarantees.
Today's first presenter is Laura Dabbish, with whom I talked last night. Spontaneous, informal communication has both benefits and downsides. Her focus is on interruptions. Typically, the interrupter benefits more than the recipient. 45% of the time the recipient didn't return to the task they were doing previously. She tried two approaches: workload displays and shared social identity. How much info can you give the interrupter without hurting his effectiveness? If the interrupter and recipient have joint goals, how does that effect their effectiveness. IOW, how do you maximize the effectiveness of both parties?
We are still having trouble getting our team workspaces pilot off the ground. It's very frustrating that no vendor really embraces our vision of simply enabling non-employee access to the workspaces they need. This shouldn't be a huge deal from a security perspective, but it is for reasons both technical and political. The political issues will almost assuredly be more difficult than the technical, but they can be overcome. I won't bore you all with details, but consider this: the alternative to giving these external folks access to a site is to email them the content. Hmmm. The difference in the risk profile is minimal.
This was the poster and demo session. There were demos of some interesting software such as CoWord and CoPowerPoint, which enable multiple people to simultaneously edit a document, as opposed to the control switching that happens with NetMeeting. But for the most part, I enjoyed the interactive posters more. Various researchers, many of them doctoral students, summarized their research on posters, which they'd then discuss with whomever wandered by. My best conversations:
I went to the panel discussion on whether CSCW needs organization theory. In a nutshell, CSCW is rather practice oriented and could use a cross-discipline theoretical boost. Borrow from useful looking theory in other disciplines, hypothesize about it's design implications, test, and voila! prescriptive theory for CSCW.
I'm in Chicago this week, attending the ACM's Computer Supported Cooperative Work conference. So far, it's been pretty interesting. I seem to be a rare specimen here: a non-academic who doesn't work for an IT company's research group. Here's a quick review of what I've heard so far:
Jon Udell has now chipped in to the Tim/Jeremy/Russell debate on do-it-all cell phones:
Pervasive connectivity and ubiquitous computing don't depend on the device you tote in your briefcase or clip to your belt. Or anyway, they shouldn't. The environments we visit, as well as the ones we live and work in, could provide for our communication and computational needs. Service portability would, in many cases, trump device portability.Absolutely. Why should I have to worry about toting a device everywhere? One day the phone will really be a viable all-purpose computing device, and that could be way cool. But for now, I have a tiny cell phone that is voice-only but ultra portable. I only carry my Blackberry when I want email access, and there are a lot of times when I don't. Jon's vision is appealing:
The ultimate freedom, to me, would be the freedom not to have to tote my TiBook everywhere, because I'd know its generic equivalent would be waiting for me in all of these places. Identify to the device; flow your preferences and data and applications to it; use it for a while; wipe the slate clean.I'd extend that vision to include cooperative computing. Because I will likely have some device, but a that device isn't going to have all of the capabilities of a stationary device, if for no other reason than form factor. For instance, the portable device should be able to take advantage of free WiFi VoIP or a larger screen. The fixed device should be able to take advantage of the cell phone's radio if the fixed device loses its standard connectivity.