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OCS Tables of Contents: 919395

Conference on Organizational Computing Systems

Fullname:Proceedings of the Conference on Organizational Computing Systems
Editors:Peter de Jong
Location:Atlanta, Georgia
Dates:1991-Nov-06 to 1991-May-08
Standard No:ISBN: 0-89791-456-2; ACM Order Number 611910; ACM DL: Table of Contents hcibib: OCS91
  1. Organizational Support Systems
  2. Groups within Organizations
  3. Organizational Interfaces
  4. Posters
  5. Objects
  6. Collaboration
  7. Coordination
  8. Panels
  9. Invited Speaker

Organizational Support Systems

Language and Distributed System Support for Complex Organizational Services BIBAKPDF 1-15
  Alexander Schill; Ashok Malhotra
This paper presents a distributed approach and system to support complex distributed application services (briefly: complex services). A basic application service is described by a typed operational interface and is implemented by multiple distributed server instances. Complex services consist of sequential and parallel executions of basic services. They are implemented by a specific execution model. This model allows for specification of complex service execution sequences, for management of data objects to be operated upon, and for flexible binding of requested services to associated servers. This flexibility is mainly achieved by the dynamic routing of objects representing a complex service execution.
   Specific support for this model is provided by a new high-level language to specify a service/server environment and to describe execution sequences, by an associated runtime environment, and by a supplemental monitor approach to supervise distributed service executions. The paper describes these facilities using examples from the office automation area.
Keywords: Distributed systems, Distributed applications, Server environments, Complex services, High-level languages, Object-based systems
Direct End-User Access to Remote Information BIBAPDF 16-28
  Steven C. Laufmann; Richard L. Blumenthal; Laural M. Thompson; Beth Bowen
Many large, widely distributed organizations struggle with the enormous task of providing the right information to the right people at the right time. Organizations facing this task often develop groups of analysts who specialize in supplying information transport and access capabilities to end-users. However, this approach has several drawbacks. Our aim is to address these problems at their source -- not by replacing analysts in the information access problem, but by automating the roles assumed by analysts. Toward this end, this paper describes a strategy that combines four techniques to solve such problems: (1) an architecture for coarse-grained agents (CGAs), (2) a communication protocol that enables CGAs to interact, (3) an in intermediate query language (IQL), designed around user-level concepts, and (4) a query translation mechanism that transforms IQL requests into database-specific queries. A prototype implementation, known as oMIE, is described.
OASIS: A Programming Environment for Implementing Distributed Organizational Support Systems BIBAPDF 29-42
  Clarence Martens; Frederick H. Lochovsky
This paper describes OASIS, a programming environment for implementing organizational support systems. Tasks, which combine data and processing objects into encapsulated units that are easily joined with other tasks, are proposed as an effective knowledge encapsulation technique for such systems. Other features of the programming environment include support of distributed applications, decentralized and shared databases, and object-oriented design. An effective and powerful user interface is provided as part of the runtime environment.

Groups within Organizations

Hierarchical Conferencing Architectures for Inter-Group Multimedia Collaboration BIBAPDF 43-54
  Harrick M. Vin; P. Venkat Rangan; Srinivas Ramanathan
Advances in computer and communication technologies have stimulated the integration of digital video and audio with computing, leading to the development of various computer-assisted collaborations. In this paper, we propose a multi-level conferencing paradigm (called super conferences) for supporting collaborative interactions between geographically separated groups of users, with each group belonging to possibly a different organization, Hierarchical communication architectures are naturally suited for carrying out media transmission in super conferences. We study the performance of hierarchical communication architectures, and present algorithms for bounding end-to-end delays of real-time media traffic in them. We derive some interesting limits on the number of participants in a group and the number of groups within a super conference, so as not to violate bandwidth and delay requirements of multimedia.
   At the Multimedia Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego, we have implemented a conferencing system on an environment of Sun SPARCstations and PC-ATs equipped with digital video and audio processing hardware. As an interesting application of the conferencing system, we have developed a tele-presenter by which users can remotely attend lectures in progress. We present our initial experiences with using the system.
A Formal Study of Distributed Meeting Scheduling: Preliminary Results BIBAPDF 55-68
  Sandip Sen; Edmund H. Durfee
Automating routine organizational tasks, such as meeting scheduling, requires a careful balance between the individual (respecting his or her privacy and personal preferences) and the organization (making efficient use of time and other resources). We argue that meeting scheduling is an inherently distributed process, and that negotiating over meetings can be viewed as a distributed search process. Keeping the process tractable requires introducing heuristics to guide distributed schedulers' decisions about what information to exchange and whether or not to propose the same tentative time for several meetings. While we have intuitions about how such heuristics could affect scheduling performance and efficiency, rigorously verifying these intuitions requires a more formal model of the meeting schedule problem and process. We present our preliminary work toward this goal, as well as experimental results that validate some of the predictions of our formal model. Our model provides a springboard into deeper investigations of important issues in distributed artificial intelligence as well, and we outline our ongoing work in this direction.
Supporting Collaborative Processes with ConversationBuilder BIBAPDF 69-79
  Simon M. Kaplan; Alan M. Carroll; Kenneth J. MacGregor
ConversationBuilder is a collaborative open system which can be tailored to support group activities in specialized domains of application. In particular we are interested in supporting collaborative processes, i.e. those activities performed by groups such that the actions of one individual in turn impacts the possibilities for action of the other group members. The paper discusses the concept of collaborative processes and the theoretical basis for ConversationBuilder as well as outlining the architecture of the system and the way it can be used to support such processes.

Organizational Interfaces

Organizational Modeling and Problem Solving Using an Object-Oriented Knowledge Representation Server and Visual Language BIBAPDF 80-94
  Brian R. Gaines
Object-oriented knowledge representation systems allow an organization to be modeled in an understandable way. User interaction with such a system is enhanced if the graphic representations normally used, such as organization charts and room layout plans, are supported through visual languages directly generating the underlying knowledge structures. The operational and problem-solving procedures of an organization expressed visually within this framework become overt and accessible, and their implementation and consequences can be automated and evaluated. This paper reports some experience in the design and implementation of a lightweight, object-oriented knowledge representation server, and its application to organizational modeling and problem solving. The primary user interface is through a formal visual language implemented as a drawing environment on graphic workstations. The open architecture implementation of the server allows it to be integrated with existing applications, such as corporate database and accounting systems, and also allows functionality to be added through self-contained modules requiring no changes in the kernel system.
Form and Room: Metaphors for Groupware BIBAPDF 95-105
  Heikki Hammainen; Chris Condon
Organizational communication systems need to uniformly support networked group interactions of varying degree of structure. This paper discuses two metaphors, form and room, for supporting the formal and informal group tasks, respectively. These metaphors were implemented and tested in parallel as two separate systems within the same research project. We attempt to condense the achieved experiences by comparing and contrasting the two systems and the chosen solutions from conceptual and technical viewpoints. Finally, we discuss methods for smoothly integrating cooperation of varying degrees of formality.
The Influence of Video in Desktop Computer Interactions BIBAPDF 106-116
  Ronald H. Nowaczyk; Terri L. Thomas; Darryall O. White
Past research on interactions of individuals located in separate locations has provided little evidence of a beneficial effect for video co-presence. The current study required users to work in pairs on a cooperative task. College students used a variety of information to select an apartment to rent. The desktop conferencing arrangement included the presence or not of video of the partners. The results revealed a significant difference as a function of gender. Video co-presence influenced the access of information for women, but not for men. Women also felt that the final choice agreed upon was their individual first choice, while men did not. The findings are discussed in terms of the potential role of video in desktop conferencing.


Group Relations Psychology and Computer Supported Work, Some New Directions for Research and Development BIBAPDF 117-122
  William L. Anderson
Computer support for work groups and cooperative work tasks is an area of active research and development. Software products are advertised for facilitating cooperation and collaboration, from collective authoring systems to computer support for multi-media communications and face-to-face meetings. Increasing work group productivity through the use of computer technology requires that the nature of group work practice be well understood.
   This paper describes a psychodynamic model of group relations and the perspective it provided on the behaviors and motivations of work groups and their larger containing organizations. The paper argues that the systemic and psychological model and insights of the psychodynamic perspective are fundamental to an understanding of the actual day-to-day activities of work groups. Furthermore, utilizing these insights can help develop richer models of work group experience, and provide a more realistic ground for developing effective computer assistance for work groups and their tasks.
   Since computer systems affect the social conditions of work groups, models and methods of the social sciences must be incorporated into the development practices of computer system engineers. The value of the psychodynamic perspective is described with two examples. First, some current research on computer mediated communication is reviewed in terms of group relations. Second, the application of this model to the changing nature of organizational work is outlined.
A Goal Oriented Office Form System BIBAPDF 123-128
  Heyun Liu; Ian Dranffan; Frank Poole
This paper presents a goal oriented office form system. Comparing to the previous developed office form systems, two contributions have been made by this system. First, based on the AI frame system and the unification process, an office form pattern language is developed. This pattern language can handle the association of a form to its subforms which have a group of repetitions of the same structure. Second, an AI planner which can directly manipulate the office forms is achieved. The specific difficulty for developing a planner to directly manipulate office forms is the frame problem [Hayes, 1975]. Since office form entity can no longer be represented by a symbol or a relation, the situation representation in the planning network has to consider not only the changes of some office forms against the whole office form base, but also the changes of the attributes against the form in which the attributes are located. The goal oriented office form system is developed based on constraint manipulation.
GMAL: A Reflective Language for Distributed AI BIBAPDF 129-134
  Salima Hassas
GMAL is an actor language based on a reflective representation of the actor model. This modelization provides interesting features for a tool of Distributed Artificial Intelligence such as modularity, flexibility, inherent parallelism and easy integration of intelligent functions such as introspection. We give first, a brief presentation of the pure actor model of Agha and show how GMAL is designed as a closure of this model. We present then, the interest of such a modelization for a tool for DAI and finish by presenting an example on the use of GMAL for knowledge's representation, exploitation and generation.
Dynamic Objects BIBAKPDF 135-140
  Michel Augeraud; Bjorn N. Freeman-Benson
Object oriented representations are very convenient to describe real world. But real world is essentially dynamic. In object oriented languages the unique instantiation class condition is a limit of dynamicity expression.
   In this paper we give semantical and structural definition of objects with structure changes over time. So we allow the following properties:
  • the ability to refer to past and future states of the system (time viewing),
  • the ability to change the structure and behavior of an object or the entire
       system (evolution),
  • the ability to model semantic relations between objects, not only in the
       current time interval, but also between time intervals (i.e., the past and
       the future (inferences)).
    Keywords: Object, Dynamicity, Time
  • An Approach to Formalizing Organizational Open Systems Concepts BIBAPDF 141-146
      Yair Wand; Carson C. Woo
    The view of organizations as open systems has recently received substantial attention. Under this view, an organization is a group of cooperative and competitive units working together to achieve certain individual and social goals. In this article, we propose an approach to formalize open systems concepts based on ontology, the branch of philosophy dealing with models of the world. Specifically, we propose a dual view of organizations -- as wholes and as aggregates of components. This duality provides for viewing organizational units as both independently behaving components of the organization, and, in the same time, as subject to organizational constraints or laws. The laws force the components to cooperate, exchange information and coordinate their activities with other units. We conjecture that our proposed approach can provide precise formal definitions for open system concepts.
    A Minimalist Approach to the Development of a Word Processor Supporting Group Writing Activities BIBAPDF 147-152
      Nicholas Malcolm; Brian R. Gaines
    Group-writing, in which a document is jointly produced by a team of writers, occurs widely in science and in industry. There are now a number of products and research tools designed to support group-writing teams. Most, however, require use of non-mainstream word-processing systems, and assume that full information is available through a network to mediate conflicts. This paper reports research on group-writing tools that deviate as little as possible from conventional word processors and assume only intermittent network connection for document exchange and conflict resolution. GroupWriter can be used by some people in a collaborative team as a full conventional word processor, by others as a versioning and text/sound annotation system, and by others as a full hypertext system all while working with the same corpus of documents. It offers full typographic and page layout facilities and imports typographic text from, and exports to, the mainstream commercial word processors.
    Extending Electronic Mail with Conceptual Modeling to Provide Group Decision Support BIBAPDF 153-158
      M. L. G. Shaw; Brian R. Gaines
    This paper reports studies to move computer-based techniques for supporting the analysis of group cognitive processes and decision-making from being specialist applications to becoming routine organizational tools used as part of electronic mail. The system supports the discourse processes of functional groups within an organization by enabling them to investigate, analyze and compare the conceptual frameworks of those playing roles within the group. In particular, the system developed shows when individuals are in conflict through using the same term for different concepts, or in tacit correspondence through using different terms for the same concept.
    Classification and Retrieval of Documents Using Office Organization Knowledge BIBAPDF 159-164
      A. Celentano; M. G. Fugini; S. Pozzi
    The management of office documents requires specific knowledge about the procedures and the regulations which apply to the office domain. On the basis of a model of document roles within the office, a classification, filing and retrieval system is illustrated. In particular, the support provided to document management by knowledge based techniques and models is discussed, and the Kabiria project, based on this approach, is presented.
    Distributed Brokerage Offices through Information Technology BIBAPDF 165-170
      Maxine L. Rockoff; Rich Malone
    This paper describes Edward D. Jones & Co., a brokerage firm with 1650 offices nationwide that uses information technology in filling a unique market niche: single-broker offices in small communities. EDJ has succeeded in developing organizational designs and parallel IT systems that make it possible for centralized managerial and operations personnel to provide day-to-day support to distant brokers on a "next room" basis. The IT system is atypical in that the branches have only "dumb" terminals, rather than workstations or personal computers, connected to a headquarters mainframe. A single relational database holds all of the company's transactions, including the thousands of messages that are generated daily in the course of routine business operations. Components integrated into EDJ's IT system in novel ways include: branch-office laser printers driven by a headquarters mainframe; headquarters-controlled branch VCRs; a voice PBX facility; and bar code readers for document tracking. The IT pay-offs to the firm include a decreasing ratio of back-office to front-office personnel, increasing net interest income, and enhancement of customer service quality.


    The Representation of Policies as System Objects BIBAKPDF 171-184
      Jonathan D. Moffett; Morris S. Sloman
    This is an exploratory paper in which we describe aspects of management policy which could be modelled as objects in a distributed computer system, in order to enable them to be queried and manipulated. Policies are 'the plans of an organisation to meet its goals'. They are persistent entities which are intended to influence actions, either by motivating actions or by authorising them. This distinction reflects the observation that agents only successfully carry out actions if they are both motivated and empowered to do so. In addition to persistence, policies have other main characteristics: they are directed to subjects; they are typically organised in hierarchies in which the goal of a policy is achieved by creating lower-level policies until identifiable actions are completed; and policies may conflict, so they require to have a precedence ordering.
       There is a need to represent and manipulate policies, as objects within the computer system, so that they can be used to influence the activities of automated managers within large distributed computer systems. We describe a possible structure for policy objects and the operations which can be performed on them. Their attributes include: modality (positive or negative motivation or authorisation); policy subjects, goals, and target objects; and the constraints which may apply. The method of representation of relationships between policies is left as an open issue.
       Related work and concepts in the modelling of policies are referred to, including a brief discussion of security models in this context. The open issues raised by this paper are described.
    Keywords: Management policy, Security models, Authority, Motivation, Distributed system management
    Linguistic Supports for Development of Distributed Organizational Information Systems in Object-Oriented Concurrent Computation Frameworks BIBAPDF 185-198
      Ken Wakita; Aki Yonezawa
    For the development of large and sophisticated distributed organizational information systems, one of the most prevalent, yet difficult problems is secure concurrent access to shared objects while preserving collective system consistency. In modeling and implementing such systems in object-oriented concurrent languages, linguistic supports are needed to enable the programmer to have a transparent view of shared objects. For this purpose, we generalized the standard notion of nested transactions to accommodate asynchronous message passing protocols, and introduced the notion of object-wise atomicity level. This paper discusses our proposed linguistic constructs for such transaction facilities.
    Method Precomputation in Object-Oriented Databases BIBAKPDF 199-212
      Elisa Bertino
    The query language represents an important component of any Data Base Management System (DBMS). Therefore, advanced object-oriented DBMSs (OODBMSs) provide query capabilities for content-based access to objects, in addition to navigational access based on object references. Very often, these two types of access are used complementarily. Object-oriented query languages have several differences with respect to relational query languages. These differences require that new optimization techniques be developed and/or that techniques defined for relational DBMSs be reexamined and extended to effectively support object-oriented queries. One such difference is that methods can be invoked in queries. The result of a method execution is an object (either primitive or non-primitive). Therefore, predicates can be applied to it. In this paper, we describe an indexing technique that supports an efficient evaluation of predicates on methods. This technique is based on the precomputation of method result. The precomputed results are stored in an index, called the method-index, that associates with a result v the list of object identifiers for which the method execution returns v. Therefore, the evaluation of a predicate on the result of a method simply requires an index search. Since changes to an object's status may invalidate a method's result, a mechanism is presented for keeping track of changes that may influence the result of a method invocation. This mechanism is used to invalidate the precomputed result of a method. The method is recomputed again upon the next invocation.
    Keywords: Methods, Query languages, Query processing, Indexing techniques


    A Process Model and System for Supporting Collaborative Work BIBAPDF 213-224
      Sunil K. Sarin; Kenneth R. Abbott; Dennis R. McCarthy
    A model for collaborative work is presented, that provides for the decomposition of a collaborative process into units of work, the relative scheduling of these units of work, the flexible assignment and routing of units of work to people who will perform the work, and the presentation and manipulation of documents (or other data) needed in the context of performing the work. This collaborative process model supports the definition, execution, monitoring, and dynamic modification of organizational processes, and is implemented as an object-oriented network service.
    A Conceptual Modelling Approach to Authoring-in-the-Large for Hypertext Documents BIBAPDF 225-239
      Rick Sobiesiak; John Mylopoulos
    The hypertext style of organizing online information is a promising approach for managing large, complex document sets that are used and maintained over a long period of time. Such document sets are typically developed in an authoring-in-the-large environment, in which a team of authors works collaboratively in a knowledge-intensive process. This paper describes how knowledge-based software engineering technologies can be applied to authoring-in-the-large through a framework called ThyDoc. The intent of ThyDoc is to move authoring-in-the-large into the more structured discipline of document engineering. ThyDoc treats authoring as a knowledge-acquisition process that captures formally (in terms of a conceptual schema) and informally (through text, graphics, and other "natural" forms of information) all the knowledge needed by teams of authors for the analysis, design, development, and maintenance of complex hypertext documents. ThyDoc is based on the Telos conceptual modelling language and the Taxis semantic data modelling language. A prototype ThyDoc authoring environment has been implemented to illustrate this knowledge-based approach to document engineering.
    MACE: A Fine Grained Concurrent Editor BIBAPDF 240-254
      R. E. Newman-Wolfe; Harsha K. Pelimuhandiram
    MACE is a distributed program running on the X Window System and Unix 4.3bsd sockets that permits fine-grained (character-level) concurrent editing of text files. It runs both as a stand-alone program and as an application in the University of Florida's distributed conferencing system (DCS). MACE uses write locks for concurrency control, allowing a locked section of text to be bounded by any pair of characters in the file. Multiple users may read or edit a file concurrently, with all users receiving updates whenever a lock is removed. The level of sharing is controlled by mutual consent, so that users may collaborate to the degree desired, including the option to view updates in real time. MACE is a first step towards a fine-grained, lock-based approach to concurrent text editing.


    Multi-Level Specification and Protocol Design for Distributed Multimedia Communication BIBAPDF 255-268
      Taieb F. Znati; Yi Deng; Brian Field; Shi-Kuo Chang
    The major challenge in the design of an efficient distributed multimedia system is the integration and support of a wide variety of applications. Investigating the basic issues involved in the design and specification of distributed multimedia systems is the focus of this paper. A basic layered network architecture is proposed as the uniform framework for the investigation of different levels of functionality typically associated with the communication network that supports multimedia communication. Within this framework, we propose to identify the communication requirements for multimedia applications and characterize a set of communication primitives which specify different qualities of service to reflect different real-time requirements. This investigation is guided by an efficient and flexible multi-level specification model. We will characterize this model and show that the model can be amenable to the construction of a set of communication primitives that support synchronization and communication of multimedia applications.
    What Can Computer Programs Do to Facilitate Negotiation Processes? BIBAPDF 269-284
      Abhijit Chaudhury; H. Raghav Rao; Sukumar Rathnam
    Recently, there has been considerable interest in the development of computer systems for use in negotiations. However, these systems are exclusively focussed on joint problem solving in cooperative settings. This paper concentrates on negotiation situations that are marked by conflict. Using a social-theoretic framework we identify the scope of computer assistance for negotiation in non-cooperative situations.
       We focus on the descriptive part of Raiffa's asymmetric descriptive/prescriptive strategy for competitive decision-making. An outline of a software system is presented. Such a system can help build a database of negotiation case histories that can be represented graphically. We explore its use in competitive bargaining situations where the system can provide a descriptive model of the opponents' bargaining behavior and help classify a negotiator in terms of negotiation strategies he is inclined to use. This allows the user to adopt a prescriptive approach in the process of concession-making in negotiations. The principles of a computer program -- FACILITATOR -- to facilitate the process of negotiation are also presented.


    Locator Technology in Distributed Systems: The Active Badge BIBAPDF 285-287
      Ken Pier; William Newman; David Redell; Chris Schmandt; Marvin Theimer; Roy Want
    Experiments with technology for locating and tracking people and things are occurring in computer science research centers in Europe and the United States. Although in its early stages, this location capability is viewed as an enabler for next-generation distributed computing systems in offices, universities, and perhaps the wider world. Such systems will no longer shackle users to their desktop PC or leave them stranded, unconnected, when using portable and notebook systems. Instead, ubiquitous wireless networks will track users and machines, delivering information and services as needed to people on the go [SciAm91].
       The first of these locator technologies is called the Active Badge. Originated by Dr. Roy Want at the Olivetti Cambridge Research Lab, active badge networks are now installed at six sites [Sites]. These badges, worn in the workplace much like common corporate ID badges, use infrared technology to broadcast unique IDs to a simple network of sensors installed in laboratory spaces. The sensor network elements are polled by a central location service. Clients of that service can correlate sensor number with physical location and, for example, frequently update a location data base that is available to still other client programs.
       Locator technology raises a number of important questions, some of which are addressed by this panel. From the technology side, one might ask how these systems work, what other implementations are possible, and how should locator technology evolve and interact with other technologies in coming systems. Perhaps even more important are the sociological and ethical questions raised by locator capability. Will "Big Brother" monitor your every move? Must you wear an active badge to get your work done? Can you drop-in and drop-out of the location system as you wish? Can we architect systems that provide desirable services without actually revealing any individual's location and trail unless given permission by that individual? Some of these issues and some systems already in place will be discussed by our panelists.
    Wireless Applications and Portable Computing BIBAPDF 288
      Richard S. Wolff; Geoff Baehr; B. Gopinath; Colin Harrison; Peter Hortensius
    This panel addresses applications of portable workstations and the underlying problems of wireless networking for distributed computing. The issues discussed include network management for mobility, operating systems for distributed, wireless computing, protocols for hand offs and routing in wireless networks, application degradation due to link performance and techniques for accommodating the special problem posed by the wireless medium.

    Invited Speaker

    Future Directions in User-Computer Interface Software BIBAPDF 289-297
      James D. Foley
    Developing high-quality user interfaces is becoming the critical step in bringing many different computer applications to end users. Ease of learning and speed of use typically must be combined in an attractively-designed interface which appeals to application (not computer) oriented end users. This is a complex undertaking, requiring skills of computer scientists, application specialists, graphic designers, human factors experts, and psychologists.
       User interface software is the foundation upon which the interface is built. The quality of the building blocks provided by the software establishes the framework within which an interface designer works. The tools should allow the designer to quickly experiment with different design approaches, and should be accessible to the non-programmer designer.
       In this paper we discuss important directions in software tools for building user interfaces:
  • Unified representation serving multiple purposes;
  • Integration with software engineering tools;
  • Interactive programming and by-example creation of interfaces and interface
       components. Most of our focus in on the first two areas.