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Computer Supported Cooperative Work 18

Editors:Kjeld Schmidt
Publisher:Springer Verlag
Standard No:ISSN 0925-9724
Links:springerlink.metapress.com | Table of Contents
  1. JCSCW 2009 Volume 18 Issue 1
  2. JCSCW 2009 Volume 18 Issue 2/3
  3. JCSCW 2009 Volume 18 Issue 4
  4. JCSCW 2009 Volume 18 Issue 5/6

JCSCW 2009 Volume 18 Issue 1

Making Space for a New Medium: On the Use of Electronic Mail in a Newspaper Newsroom BIBAFull-Text 1-46
  Amelie Hössjer; Kerstin Severinson Eklundh
Within the field of computer-supported cooperative work, there are a continuously growing number of studies of the use of electronic media in groups and organisations. Despite the existence of this impressive body of research, there have been comparatively few in-depth studies of how the computer as a medium of communication is integrated in specific professional practices. The present study examines the role of electronic mail in a medium-sized Swedish newspaper office (newsroom) environment. Using an ethnographic perspective, the study attempts to combine two approaches: it is both focused on the social and communicative processes that are affected by the use of email and oriented toward the messages as such, looking at what kind of interaction is produced through particular email exchanges. Data have been collected during repeated observations, interviews and study of documents and artefacts in the newsroom environment over a period of almost 3 years. The picture that has emerged suggests that it is not the medium as such, but its interaction with other contextual preconditions that is decisive for the effects of the introduction of email. Important factors are the physical localization of co-workers in the near and remote editorial environment as well as their organisational roles in the time-critical news production process. Together, these relationships create a significantly more complex picture than previous studies of what happens when a new communication technology is introduced.
How to Use Information Technology for Cooperative Work: Development of Shared Technological Frames BIBAKFull-Text 47-81
  Natalja Menold
Technological frames, participants' assumptions about information technology (IT), and in particular about the usage of the technology for everyday cooperative work, are a relevant factor for IT related behavior. Incongruent technological frames are associated with problems during the application and use of a new IT in an organization. This paper presents a field study which applies a pre-post-design in a freight forwarding company. During face-to-face discussion the participating employees of the company negotiated agreements regarding the future usage of a new mobile technology system for every day cooperative work between dispatcher agents and truck drivers. To support the development of shared technological frames the moderation technique STWT (socio-technical walkthrough) was applied. The results describe the structural changes in technological frames, and show to what extent these were shared by the participants. Based on the results possibilities to improve support for the development of shared technological frames are discussed.
Keywords: introduction of new IT, technological frames, shared agreements, moderation, visualization, socio-technical walkthrough
alt.metadata.health: Ontological Context for Data Use and Integration BIBAFull-Text 83-108
  Nadine Schuurman; Ellen Balka
Increasingly powerful computers and increased emphasis on evidence based decision making are creating a demand for merging and integrating data from different sources into a single data set. The demand for data is outstripping our ability to ensure data integrity, and sometimes analysis is performed on data that are not appropriate for the purposes they are used for. Here we describe problems that arise when data from different sources are merged, and we suggest that one way to add context to data so that users can make informed decisions about their ontological context is through ontology-based metadata. Examples of the problem are taken from health data with emphasis on difficulties in standardizing Emergency Room wait times. We describe eight fields that can be used to capture contextual metadata. These fields are captured using ethnographic methods from users and database stewards who frequently understand precisely how context and institutional usage have shaped interpretation of semantic fields. We argue that attaching a portable archive of ontological context to travel with data -- based on information from users and developers -- is a means of ensuring that data are integrated and compared in multiple contexts with greater integrity and more robust results.

JCSCW 2009 Volume 18 Issue 2/3

Designing for Diagnosing: Introduction to the Special Issue on Diagnostic Work BIBAFull-Text 109-128
  Monika Büscher; Jacki O'Neill; John Rooksby
When faced with anything out of the ordinary, faulty or suspicious, the work of determining and categorizing the trouble, and scoping for what to do about it (if anything) often go hand in hand -- this is diagnostic work. In all its expert and non-expert forms diagnostic work is often both intellectual and embodied, collaborative and distributed, and ever more deeply entangled with technologies. Yet, it is often poorly supported by them. In this special issue we show that diagnostic work is an important and pervasive aspect of people's activities at work, at home, and on the move. The papers published in this Special Issue come from a range of domains including, ambulance dispatch, a friendly fire incident and anomaly response for the NASA space shuttle; software, network and photocopier troubleshooting; and users attempting to use a new travel management system. These papers illustrate the variety of work that may be thought of as diagnostic. We hope that bringing a focus on diagnostic work to these diverse practices and situations opens up a rich vein of inquiry for CSCW scholars, designers, and users.
Time, Narratives and Participation Frameworks in Software Troubleshooting BIBAFull-Text 129-146
  Francesca Alby; Cristina Zucchermaglio
The paper problematizes diagnostic work as a solely technical and rational activity by presenting an analysis focused on the social and organizational practices in which diagnosis is embedded. The analysis of a troubleshooting episode in an Italian internet company shows how diagnostic work is realized: 1) through collaboration sustained by specific knowledge distribution among designers (different but overlapping competences); 2) intersubjectively and discursively as an activity characterized by specific and diverse forms of participation and interwined with material intervention in the system; 3) following a situated rationality which proceeds by gradual approximations to achieve partial or provisional solutions while also taking account of organizational goals and needs. In particular the paper discusses how diagnosis is shaped by time pressure, flexible roles and distributed responsibilities, absent participants, narratives as specialized discourses.
"You Are Well Clear of Friendlies": Diagnostic Error and Cooperative Work in an Iraq War Friendly Fire Incident BIBAFull-Text 147-173
  Maurice Nevile
This paper considers diagnostic error in cooperative work as a contributing factor for a military 'friendly fire' incident. It emphasises aspects of the moment-to-moment sequential organisation of interaction, and turn design, to explore the significance for the error of a loss of intersubjectivity and joint understanding. The paper uses as data the cockpit video recording from a US Air Force aircraft that fired on a British armoured vehicle convoy in March 2003, in the early days of the Iraq War. The analytic approach is grounded in concerns of ethnomethodology (EM) and conversation analysis (CA) for uncovering the language, practices and processes of reasoning by which people accomplish social actions, particularly for conducting cooperative work. The paper highlights the impact for the participants' perception, understanding and action of varying forms of participation, for example as speaker, addressed recipient, or as potential overhearing non-addressed recipient, and relative to participants' involvement in the task at hand, and to their possibilities for accessing relevant phenomena (i.e. the vehicles and their visible features). Diagnosis in cooperative work demands that participants act relative to one another's diverse perspectives and representations of the scene and its objects and events. Diagnosis requires participants to manage situations of ambiguity and uncertainty, and to resolve apparent conflicts of understanding and perceptual evidence. The paper examines the social character of diagnostic work by showing how processes of cooperation can be vulnerable and ultimately go wrong, particularly when multiple participants are physically distributed and interaction is mediated by communication technologies such as radio.
Cooperative Advocacy: An Approach for Integrating Diverse Perspectives in Anomaly Response BIBAFull-Text 175-198
  Jennifer Watts-Perotti; David D. Woods
This paper contrasts cooperative work in two cases of distributed anomaly response, both from space shuttle mission control, to learn about the factors that make anomaly response robust. In one case (STS-76), flight controllers in mission control recognized an anomaly that began during the ascent phase of a space shuttle mission, analyzed the implications of the failure for mission plans, and made adjustments to plans (the flight ended safely). In this case, a Cooperative Advocacy approach facilitated a process in which diverse perspectives were orchestrated to provide broadening and cross-checks that reduced the risk of premature narrowing. In the second case (the Columbia space shuttle accident -- STS-107), mission management treated a debris strike during launch as a side issue rather than a safety of flight concern and was unable to recognize the dangers of this event for the flight which ended in tragedy. In this case, broadening and cross-checks were missing due to fragmentation over the groups involved in the anomaly response process. The comparison of these cases points to critical requirements for designing collaboration over multiple groups in anomaly response situations.
Designing Technology as an Embedded Resource for Troubleshooting BIBAFull-Text 199-227
  Stefania Castellani; Antonietta Grasso; Jacki O'Neill; Frederic Roulland
In this paper we describe a number of technologies which we designed to provide support for customers troubleshooting problems with their office devices. The technologies aim to support both self-conducted and expert-supported troubleshooting and to provide a seamless route from one type of support to another. The designs are grounded in the findings of an ethnographic study of a troubleshooting call centre for office devices. We examine the properties of different assemblies of people, resources, technologies and spaces to inspire design for the different troubleshooting situations. Through our fieldwork and our technology envisionments we uncovered a number of dislocations between various aspects of the troubleshooting assemblies: (1) a physical dislocation between the site of the problem and the site of problem resolution; (2) a conceptual dislocation between the users' knowledge and the troubleshooting resources and (3) a logical dislocation between the support resources and the status of the ailing device itself. The technologies that we propose attempt to address these dislocations by embedding the troubleshooting resources in the device itself, thus harmonizing the various elements and capturing, where possible, the haecceities -- the 'just thisness' -- of each particular troubleshooting situation.
Communication and Diagnostic Work in Medical Emergency Calls in Italy BIBAFull-Text 229-250
  Isabella Paoletti
This study analyses a series of emergency calls related to the same event: an accident in a factory. The aim of the analysis is to show how a lack of information hinders operator's diagnostic work. The paper shows the effects of communication problems on operator's decision making, that is, how the operator's diagnostic work is actively resisted by callers, and therefore, how disaligment in relation to the activity at hand influences operator's decision making and the actual organisation of the rescue activities. I argue that CSCW technologies need to enable negotiation of potentially conflicting social practices and organizational protocols around diagnostic work and should not just support remote collaboration between professionals, but also with the public.
Diagnostic Reasoning in the Use of Travel Management System BIBAFull-Text 251-276
  Ilkka Arminen; Piia Poikus
We explore the appropriation of a self-management administrative system from the perspective of diagnostic reasoning. The case study, based on documents, ethnography and videotapes, concerns the appropriation of a travel management system in a major university in Finland. To explore this process from a user-centric view, we focus on the diagnostic work required in the appropriation of the new system, analyzing both the generic diagnostic reasoning of how the users navigate in the system and their individual and collaborative problem-solving strategies. This approach reveals the interaction between the users and the technology, which incorporates inbuilt models of users, administrative work and work processes. Our analysis concerns interactive instances which resulted from misdiagnosis of the functions of the system. For example, the orchestration and labeling of items in the application pose diagnostic challenges to end-users and may eventually be resolved in collaboration with administrative personnel. The individual and collaborative diagnostic reasoning sheds light on the hidden organizational embeddedness of self-management solutions, providing suggestions for developing the design and deployment of administrative self-management systems. The appropriated self-management system should finally be based on the end-user's diagnostic reasoning so that the employees can base their actions on their taken-for-granted competence and the skills gained during the appropriation of the system.
The Home Network as a Socio-Technical System: Understanding the Challenges of Remote Home Network Problem Diagnosis BIBAFull-Text 277-299
  Erika Shehan Poole; W. Keith Edwards; Lawrence Jarvis
Research focused on the user experience of home networking repeatedly finds that householders have difficulties setting up networked equipment. No research to date, however, has studied the in the moment interactions of householders with networking technical support professionals. In this paper, we analyze 21 phone calls to a technical support call center of a home network hardware manufacturer. The phone calls focus on overcoming difficulties during one particular task: adding a wireless router to an existing home network. Our results reaffirm prior studies in remote collaboration that suggest a need to support shared understandings of the problem at hand between remote parties. Our results also suggest that technical properties of the home network and the structure of the home itself complicate the social work of remote diagnosis and repair. In response, we suggest new approaches for remote home network problem diagnosis and repair, including resources for householders to reason about their home networks prior to call placement, and improved methods of inter-organizational information sharing between stakeholders.

JCSCW 2009 Volume 18 Issue 4

Leveraging Coordinative Conventions to Promote Collaboration Awareness: The case of Clinical Records BIBADOI 301-330
  Federico Cabitza; Carla Simone; Marcello Sarini
The paper discusses the conventions used by medical practitioners to improve their collaboration mediated by Clinical Records. The case study focuses on the coordinative conventions identified in two wards of an Italian hospital and highlights their role and importance in the definition of the requirements of any system supportive of collaborative work practices. These requirements are expressed in terms of the provision of artifact-mediated information that promotes collaboration awareness. The study identified several kinds of Awareness Promoting Information (API): the paper discusses how they can be conveyed both in the web of documental artifacts constituting a Clinical Record and in its computer-based counterpart, the Electronic Patient Record (EPR). The paper ends with the implications for the design of EPRs and for their integration with Hospital Information Systems in light of the findings.
Scenario-Based Methods for Evaluating Collaborative Systems BIBAKDOI 331-356
  Steven R. Haynes; Sandeep Purao; Amie L. Skattebo
Evaluating collaborative systems remains a significant challenge. Most evaluation methods approach the problem from one of two extremes: focused evaluation of specific system features, or broad ethnographic investigations of system use in context. In this paper, we develop and demonstrate a middle ground for evaluation: explicit reflections on scenarios of system use coupled with analysis of the consequences of these use scenarios, represented as claims. Extending prior work in scenario-based design and claims analysis, we develop a framework for a multi-perspective, multi-level evaluation of collaborative systems called SWIMs: scenario walkthrough and inspection methods. This approach is centered on the capture, aggregation, and analysis of users' reflections on system support for specific scenarios. We argue that this approach not only provides the contextual sensitivity and use centricity of ethnographic techniques, but also sufficient structure for method replication, which is common to more feature-based evaluation techniques. We demonstrate with an extensive field study how SWIMs can be used for summative assessment of system performance and organizational contributions, and formative assessment to guide system and feature re-design. Results from the field study provide preliminary indications of the method's effectiveness and suggest directions for future research.
Keywords: evaluation methods, collaborative systems, scenario-based approaches, claims analysis, field studies
Achieving Diagnosis by Consensus BIBADOI 357-392
  Bridget Kane; Saturnino Luz
This paper provides an analysis of the collaborative work conducted at a multidisciplinary medical team meeting, where a patient's definitive diagnosis is agreed, by consensus. The features that distinguish this process of diagnostic work by consensus are examined in depth. The current use of technology to support this collaborative activity is described, and experienced deficiencies are identified. Emphasis is placed on the visual and perceptual difficulty for individual specialities in making interpretations, and on how, through collaboration in discussion, definitive diagnosis is actually achieved. The challenge for providing adequate support for the multidisciplinary team at their meeting is outlined, given the multifaceted nature of the setting, i.e. patient management, educational, organizational and social functions, that need to be satisfied.

JCSCW 2009 Volume 18 Issue 5/6

Software Engineering as Cooperative Work BIBDOI 393-399
  Yvonne Dittrich; Dave W. Randall; Janice Singer
What Counts as Software Process? Negotiating the Boundary of Software Work Through Artifacts and Conversation BIBAFull-Text 401-443
  Marisa Leavitt Cohn; Susan Elliott Sim; Charlotte P. Lee
In software development, there is an interplay between Software Process models and Software Process enactments. The former tends to be abstract descriptions or plans. The latter tends to be specific instantiations of some ideal procedure. In this paper, we examine the role of work artifacts and conversations in negotiating between prescriptions from a model and the contingencies that arise in an enactment. A qualitative field study at two Agile software development companies was conducted to investigate the role of artifacts in the software development work and the relationship between these artifacts and the Software Process. Documentation of software requirements is a major concern among software developers and software researchers. Agile software development denotes a different relationship to documentation, one that warrants investigation. Empirical findings are presented which suggest a new understanding of the relationship between artifacts and Software Process. The paper argues that Software Process is a generative system, which participants called "The Conversation," that emerges out of the interplay between Software Process models and Software Process enactments.
On The Roles of APIs in the Coordination of Collaborative Software Development BIBAFull-Text 445-475
  Cleidson R. B. de Souza; David F. Redmiles
The principle of information hiding has been very influential in software engineering since its inception in 1972. This principle prescribes that software modules hide implementation details from other modules in order to reduce their dependencies. This separation also decreases the dependency among software developers implementing these modules, thus simplifying the required coordination. A common instantiation of this principle widely used in the industry is in the form of application programming interfaces (APIs). While previous studies report on the general use and benefits of APIs, they have glossed over the detailed ways in which APIs facilitate the coordination of work. In order to unveil these mechanisms, we performed a qualitative study on how practitioners use APIs in their daily work. Using ethnographic data from two different software development teams, we identified three roles played by APIs in the coordination of software development projects. These roles are described using three metaphors: APIs as contracts, APIs as boundaries, and APIs as communication mechanisms. As contracts, APIs allow software developers to work in parallel and independently. As a communication mechanism, APIs facilitate communication among software developers by giving them something specific to talk about. At the same time, APIs establish the boundaries between developers, and, accordingly, what should be talked about. This paper also reports on problems the studied teams face when using APIs to coordinate their work. Based on these results, we draw theoretical implications for collaborative software engineering.
Bridging, Patching and Keeping the Work Flowing: Defect Resolution in Distributed Software Development BIBAFull-Text 477-507
  Gabriela Avram; Liam Bannon; John Bowers; Anne Sheehan; Daniel K. Sullivan
This paper reports on results from a long-term field study of globally distributed software development projects within a multinational organization. The research explores the issues involved in performing global software development, utilizing a perspective informed by CSCW research concerning the local organization of work practices and the key role of workers in being able to intervene in the 'flow of work' where necessary. The paper also raises some more general questions concerning the field of Global Software Development (GSD), in terms of the concepts and methods being used in the area. Our contribution is in the form of a CSCW-informed empirical study of the use of defect (or 'bug') tracking systems -- systems which support the identification, classification and resolution of defects in the emerging software. In one case, the team persisted with a defect tracking system that they had used for years and maintained it in parallel with a system used by co-workers in other countries -- all the while attempting to implement a bridge between the two. In the other, we report on how local software patches were created to allow for local work to proceed while not interfering with the existing coordination mechanisms between the local site and remote co-workers who were responsible for creating daily builds according to the overall project plan. In both cases, local practices were shaped by the necessity to keep work flowing across the whole project, even if this involved what might, at first sight, seem to go against project-wide practice. We discuss implications of these findings in terms of a key distinction between externally-prescribed 'workflow' and internally-managed 'flow of work' activities. We also explore how a heterogeneous 'assembly' of variably coupled systems may be the most appropriate image for technological support of distributed teams as they keep the work flowing in an orderly fashion. Overall, our work suggests that studies of global software development can profit from the CSCW tradition of workplace studies both conceptually and methodologically.
Using Developer Activity Data to Enhance Awareness during Collaborative Software Development BIBAKFull-Text 509-558
  Inah Omoronyia; John Ferguson; Marc Roper; Murray Wood
Software development is a global activity unconstrained by the bounds of time and space. A major effect of this increasing scale and distribution is that the shared understanding that developers previously acquired by formal and informal face-to-face meetings is difficult to obtain. This paper proposes a shared awareness model that uses information gathered automatically from developer IDE interactions to make explicit orderings of tasks, artefacts and developers that are relevant to particular work contexts in collaborative, and potentially distributed, software development projects. The research findings suggest that such a model can be used to: identify entities (developers, tasks, artefacts) most associated with a particular work context in a software development project; identify relevance relationships amongst tasks, developers and artefacts e.g. which developers and artefacts are currently most relevant to a task or which developers have contributed to a task over time; and, can be used to identify potential bottlenecks in a project through a 'social graph' view. Furthermore, this awareness information is captured and provided as developers work in different locations and at different times.
Keywords: context awareness, collaboration, relevance filtering, distributed teamwork, empirical studies, global software development
Testing in the Wild: The Social and Organisational Dimensions of Real World Practice BIBAKFull-Text 559-580
  John Rooksby; Mark Rouncefield; Ian Sommerville
Testing is a key part of any systems engineering project. There is an extensive literature on testing, but very little that focuses on how testing is carried out in real-world circumstances. This is partly because current practices are often seen as unsophisticated and ineffective. We believe that by investigating and characterising the real-world work of testing we can help question why such 'bad practices' occur and how improvements might be made. We also argue that the testing literature is too focused on technological issues when many of the problems, and indeed strengths, have as much do with work and organisation. In this paper we use empirical examples from four systems engineering projects to demonstrate how and in what ways testing is a cooperative activity. In particular we demonstrate the ways in which testing is situated within organisational work and satisfices organisational and marketplace demands.
Keywords: dependability, ethnography, ethnomethodology, organisational issues, software development, systems testing, work practices
Software Development Cultures and Cooperation Problems: A Field Study of the Early Stages of Development of Software for a Scientific Community BIBAKFull-Text 581-606
  Judith Segal
In earlier work, I identified a particular class of end-user developers, who include scientists and whom I term 'professional end-user developers', as being of especial interest. Here, I extend this work by articulating a culture of professional end-user development, and illustrating by means of a field-study how the influence of this culture causes cooperation problems in an inter-disciplinary team developing a software system for a scientific community. My analysis of the field study data is informed by some recent literature on multi-national work cultures. Whilst acknowledging that viewing a scientific development through a lens of software development culture does not give a full picture, I argue that it nonetheless provides deep insights.
Keywords: community software development, cooperation, field study, scientific software development, software development culture, professional end-user developers
Integration and Generification -- Agile Software Development in the Healthcare Market BIBAFull-Text 607-634
  Liv Karen Johannessen; Gunnar Ellingsen
The aim of this paper is to contribute to strategies applicable to vendors who want to move their locally designed and highly integrated systems to a larger market. A further aim is to explore how such systems developed for a local practice, and tightly integrated with the existing infrastructure, can be adapted to a larger market. We analyse the socio-technical mechanisms in play, the roles that the vendor and the users have in order to facilitate this, and the delicate interplay in relation to the other vendors. The analysis draws on the CSCW field, notions of generification of packaged software products, and boundary work. We argue that this process involves boundary work in relation to the installed base, as well as to other vendors and users. We also argue that the roles of the actors involved change during this process. The case described in this paper is the evolution of a system in which general practitioners can order laboratory services from the hospital electronically. The system integrates the general practitioners' information systems with the laboratory information system in the hospital. The development of the system started out in close cooperation with one customer, but as it evolved more customers bought the system. The system has been designed in an iterative and evolutionary way using agile development methods.