Supporting Worker Independence in Collaboration Transparency
Begole, James M.A.
Rosson, Mary Beth
Shaffer, Clifford A.
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Conventional collaboration-transparency systems are inefficient in their use of network resources and lack support for key groupware principles: concurrent work, relaxed WYSIWIS, and group awareness. We present an alternative implementation approach to collaboration transparency that provides many features previously seen only in collaboration-aware applications. Our approach is based on an object-oriented replicated architecture where selected single-user interface objects are dynamically replaced by multi-user extensions. The replacement is transparent to the single-user application and its developer. As an instance of this approach, we describe its incorporation into a new Java-based collaboration-transparency system, called Flexible JAMM. We conducted an empirical study to evaluate the effectiveness of Flexible JAMM versus a representative conventional collaboration-transparency system, NetMeeting. Completion times were significantly faster in a loosely-coupled task using Flexible JAMM, and were not adversely affected in a tightly-coupled task. Accuracy was unaffected by the system used. Participants greatly preferred Flexible JAMM. The evaluation validates our aim of supporting multiple styles of collaboration.