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TOIS Tables of Contents: 0102030405060708091011121314

ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems 4

Editors:Robert B. Allen
Standard No:ISSN 1046-8188; HF S548.125 A33
Links:Table of Contents
  1. TOIS 1986 Volume 4 Issue 1
  2. TOIS 1986 Volume 4 Issue 2
  3. TOIS 1986 Volume 4 Issue 3
  4. TOIS 1986 Volume 4 Issue 4

TOIS 1986 Volume 4 Issue 1

Research Contributions

TEXTNET: A Network-Based Approach to Text Handling BIBAK 1-23
  Randall H. Trigg; Mark Weiser
Textnet is a new system for structuring text. The Textnet approach uses one uniform data structure to capture graphlike pools of text, as well as embedded hierarchical structures. By using a semantic network formalism of nodes connected by typed links, the relationship between neighboring pieces of text are made explicit. Also described is our partial implementation of the Textnet approach, which makes use of an object-oriented window/menu-driven user interface. Users peruse the network by moving among object menus or by reading text along a path through the network. In addition, critiquing, reader linking, searching, and jumping are easily accessible operations. Finally, the results of a short trial with users are presented.
Keywords: Models and principles, User/machine systems, Information storage and retrieval, Content analysis and indexing, Information storage and retrieval, Information search and retrieval, Information storage and retrieval, Systems and software, Information storage and retrieval, Online information services, Information systems applications, Office automation, Text processing, Document preparation, Experimentation, Human factors, Languages, Management, Hypertext systems, Semantic networks
Whiteboards: A Graphical Database Tool BIBAK 24-41
  James Donahue; Jennifer Widom
The "Whiteboards" system is intended to be an electronic equivalent of the whiteboards and corkboards that we have in our offices. A Whiteboard database has similar qualities of storing disparate collections of data and saving their spatial location in a window to help with organization. A Whiteboard database can contain references to arbitrary entities: text files, note, programs, tools, pictures, etc. Whiteboards runs as an application in the Cedar programming environment developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center.
Keywords: Database management, Office automation, Design, Management, Databases, Programming environments
The Spatial Metaphor for User Interfaces: Experimental Tests of Reference by Location versus Name BIBAK 42-63
  William P. Jones; Susan T. Dumais
The enduring dichotomy between spatial and symbolic modes of representation and retrieval acquires an added pragmatic dimension through recent developments in computer-based information retrieval. The standard name-based approach to object reference is now supplemented on some systems by a spatial alternative-often driven by an office or desktop metaphor. Little rigorous evidence is available, however, to support the supposition that spatial memory in itself is more effective than symbolic memory.
   The accuracy of spatial versus symbolic reference was assessed in three experiments. In Experiment 1 accuracy of location reference in a location-only filing condition was initially comparable to that in a name-only condition, but deteriorated much more rapidly with increases in the number of objects filled. In Experiment 2 subjects placed objects in a two-dimensional space containing landmarks (drawings of a desk, table, filing cabinets, etc.) designed to evoke an office metaphor, and in Experiment 3 subjects placed objects in an actual, three-dimensional mock office. Neither of these enhancements served to improve significantly the accuracy of location reference, and performance remained below that of a name-only condition in Experiment 1. The results raise questions about the utility of spatial metaphor over symbolic filing and highlight the need for continuing research in which considerations of technological and economic feasibility are balanced by considerations of psychological utility.
Keywords: Models and principles, User/machine systems, Human factors, Human information processing, Information storage and retrieval, Information storage, File organization, Information systems applications, Office automation, Experimentation, Human factors, Management, Performance, Computer-human interaction, Personal filing systems, Spatial representation, User interface
Complete Logical Routings in Computer Mail Systems BIBAK 64-80
  P. Martin; D. Tsichritzis
The logical routing of a message in a computer mail system involves the identification and location of the set of intended recipients for that message. This function is carried out by the naming and addressing mechanism of the mail system. An important property of that mechanism is that it should be able to identify and locate all the intended recipients of a message, so that, once submitted, a message will not become lost or stuck in the system. We first discuss message addressing schemes, which are a framework for dealing with the naming and addressing problem. Message addressing schemes can also serve as a basis for the analysis of some of the properties of logical message routing within a system. We examine the conditions necessary for a complete message addressing scheme, that is, one that guarantees to deliver all possible messages.
Keywords: Computer-communication networks, Distributed systems, Distributed applications, Information systems applications, Communications applications, Electronic mail, Design, Electronic mail routing, Message systems

TOIS 1986 Volume 4 Issue 2

Research Contributions

Communications Design for Co-oP: A Group Decision Support System BIBAK 81-103
  Tung X. Bui; Matthias Jarke
Decision Support Systems (DSSs), computer-based systems intended to assist managers in preparing and analyzing decisions, have been single-user systems for most of the past decade. Only recently has DSS research begun to study the implications of the fact that most complex managerial decisions involve multiple decision makers and analysts. A number of tools for facilitating group decisions have been proposed under the label Group Decision Support Systems (GDSSs).
   One of the most important functions of a GDSS is to provide problem-oriented services for communication among decision makers. On the basis of an analysis of the communication requirements in various group decision settings, this paper presents an architecture for defining and enforcing dynamic application-level protocols that organize decision group interaction. The architecture has been implemented on a network of personal computers in Co-oP, a GDSS for cooperative group decision making based on interactive, multiple-criteria decision methods.
Keywords: Computer-communication networks, Network protocols, Computer-communication networks, Distributed systems, Distributed applications, Operating systems, Organization and design, Distributed systems, Models and principles, User/machine systems, Information systems applications, Types of systems, Decision support, Information systems applications, Communications applications, Design, Human factors, Management, Cooperative work, Communication design, Group decision making, Negotiation, Office automation
A Society Model for Office Information Systems BIBAK 104-131
  Cheng-Seen Ho; Yang-Chang Hong; Te-Son Kuo
A society model, which characterizes the behavior and procedure of offices, is proposed. It is our belief that an office system capable of dealing with all real office problems only through the modeling of the internal behavior of an office can be developed. In this society model, office entities are viewed as agents. An agent is modeled as a microsociety of interacting knowledge sources. Within the microsociety, there exists a microknowledge exchange system, which provides a set of microknowledge exchange protocols as a coordination system among those knowledge sources during their cooperative reasoning process. An office is then modeled as a society of various interacting agents using their knowledge to complete the office goals cooperatively. It is this unified view that allows offices to be modeled in a flexible and general way.
Keywords: Computer-communication networks, Network protocols, Protocol architecture, Computer-communication networks, Distributed systems, Distributed applications, Models and principles, Miscellaneous, Information systems applications, Office automation, Artificial intelligence, Applications and expert systems, Office automation, Design, Human factors, Management, Distributed problem solving, Knowledge exchange protocols, Knowledge messages, Office modeling, Office systems
A Generator of Direct Manipulation Office Systems BIBAK 132-163
  Scott E. Hudson; Roger King
A system for generating direct manipulation office systems is described. In these systems, the user directly manipulates graphical representations of office entities instead of dealing with these entities abstractly through a command language or menu system. These systems employ a new semantic data model to describe office entities. New techniques based on attribute grammars and incremental attribute evaluation are used to implement this data model in an efficient manner. In addition, the system provides a means of generating sophisticated graphics-based user interfaces that are integrated with the underlying semantic model. Finally, the generated systems contain a general user reversal and recovery (or undo) mechanism that allows them to be much more tolerant of human errors.
Keywords: Database management, Logical design, Data models, Information systems applications, Office automation, Computer graphics, Methodology and techniques, Interaction techniques, Design, Human factors, Languages, Management, Application development tools, Direct manipulation, Graphical user interfaces, Semantic models
BAROQUE: A Browser for Relational Databases BIBAK 164-181
  Amihai Motro
The standard, most efficient method to retrieve information from databases can be described as systematic retrieval: The needs of the user are described in a formal query, and the database management system retrieves the data promptly. There are several situations, however, in which systematic retrieval is difficult or even impossible. In such situations exploratory search (browsing) is a helpful alternative. This paper describes a new user interface, called BAROQUE, that implements exploratory searches in relational databases. BAROQUE requires few formal skills from its users. It does not assume knowledge of the principles of the relational data model or familiarity with the organization of the particular database being accessed. It is especially helpful when retrieval targets are vague or cannot be specified satisfactorily. BAROQUE establishes a view of the relational database that resembles a semantic network, and provides several intuitive functions for scanning it. The network integrates both schema and data, and supports access by value. BAROQUE can be implemented on top of any basic relational database management system but can be modified to take advantage of additional capabilities and enhancements often present in relational systems.
Keywords: Database management, Logical design, Data models, Database management, Languages, Query languages, Information storage and retrieval, Information search and retrieval, Retrieval models, Design, Human factors, Languages, Browsing, Database, Exploratory search, Relational database, User interface

TOIS 1986 Volume 4 Issue 3

Editors' Introduction

Special Issue: Selected Papers from the Conference on Office Information Systems BIB 183
  Carl Hewitt; Stanley B. Zdonik

Research Contributions

Supporting Distributed Office Problem Solving in Organizations BIBAK 185-204
  Carson C. Woo; Frederick H. Lochovsky
To improve the effectiveness of office workers in their decision making, office systems have been built to support (rather than replace) their judgment. However, these systems model office work in a centralized environment, and/or they can only support a single office worker. Office work that is divided into specialized domains handled by different office workers (where cooperation is needed in order to accomplish the work) is not supported. In this paper, we will present a model that supports office problem solving in a logically distributed environment. (In some systems, information is geographically distributed for performance purpose rather than for conceptual need. The term, logically, is therefore used to indicate the logical need of organizing information without having to worry about the physical location of the information.) In particular, cooperative tools that can be used to support office workers during the process of their problem solving is discussed.
Keywords: Computer-communication networks, Distributed systems, Distributed applications, Information systems applications, Office automation, Information systems applications, Types of systems, Decision support, Information systems applications, Communications applications, Electronic mail, Artificial intelligence, Applications and expert systems, Office automation, Administrative data processing, Business, Design, Management, Cooperative tools, Managerial office work, Object-oriented environment, Office communication
The Integration of Computing and Routine Work BIBAK 205-225
  Les Gasser
Most computing serves as a resource or tool to support other work: performing complex analyses for engineering projects, preparing documents, or sending electronic mail using office automation equipment, etc. To improve the character, quality, and ease of computing work, we must understand how automated systems actually are integrated into the work they support. How do people actually adapt to computing as a resource? How do they deal with the unreliability in hardware, software, or operations; data inaccuracy; system changes; poor documentation; inappropriate designs; etc; which are present in almost every computing milieu, even where computing is widely used and considered highly successful? This paper presents some results of a detailed empirical study of routine computer use in several organizations. We present a theoretical account of computing work and use it to explain a number of observed phenomena, such as:
  • - How people knowningly use "false" data to obtain desired analytical results
       by tricking their systems.
  • - How organizations come to rely upon complex, critical computer system despite
       significant, recurrent, known errors and inaccurate data.
  • - How people work around inadequate computing systems by using manual or
       duplicate systems, rather than changing their systems via maintenance or
       enhancement. In addition, the framework for analyzing computing and routine work presented here proves useful for representing and reasoning about activity in multiactor systems in general, and in understanding how better to integrate organizations of people and computers in which work is coordinated.
    Keywords: Software engineering, Distribution and maintenance, Software engineering, Management, Models and principles, User/machine systems, Artificial intelligence, Knowledge representation formalisms and methods, Artificial intelligence, Problem solving, Control methods and search, Administrative data processing, Manufacturing, Management of computing and information systems, Human factors, Management, Articulation work, Computing and work, Computing in organizations, Integration of computing, Multiagent systems, Social analysis of computing, Workarounds
  • A Visual Interface for a Database with Version Management BIBAK 226-256
      Jay W. Davison; Stanley B. Zdonik
    This paper describes a graphical interface to an experimental database system which incorporates a built-in version control mechanism that maintains a history of the database development and changes. The system is an extension of ISIS (6), Interface for a Semantic Information System, a workstation-based, graphical database programming tool developed at Brown University. ISIS supports a graphical interface to a modified subset of the Semantic Data Model (SDM) (7). The ISIS extension introduces a transaction mechanism that interacts with the versions control facilities.
       A series of version control support tools have been added to ISIS to provide a notion of history to user-created databases. The user can form new versions of three types of ISIS objects: a class definition object (a type), the set of instances of a class (the content), and an entity. A version-viewing mechanism is provided to allow for the comparison of various object versions. Database operations are grouped together in atomic units to form transactions, which are stored as entities in the database. A sample session demonstrates the capabilities of version and transaction control during the creation and manipulation of database objects.
    Keywords: Models and principles, User/machine systems, Human factors, Database management, Logical design, Data models, Information systems applications, Office automation, Design, Human factors, Languages, Historical database, Semantic data model, Transaction processing, Version control, Visual interfaces
    Analyzing Due Process in the Workplace BIBAK 257-270
      Elihu M. Gerson; Susan Leigh Star
    Every office is an open system, and the products of office work are the result of decentralized negotiations. Changing patterns of task organization and alliance inevitably give rise to inconsistent knowledge bases and procedures. This implies that there are no globally correct answers to problems addressed by OISs. Rather, systems must deal with multiple competing, possibly irreconcilable, solutions. Articulating alternative solutions is the problem of due process. This problem and its consequences are illustrated by a case study of a rate-setting group in a large health insurance firm.
       There is no formal solution to the problem of due process. But it must be solved in practice if distributed intelligent OISs are to be developed. We propose an alternative approach based on the work of social scientists concerned with analyzing analogous problems in human organization. Solution of the due process problem hinges on developing local closures to the problem faced by an organization. This means analyzing (a) local, tacit knowledge and its transfer ability; (b) articulation work, that is, reconciling incommensurate assumptions and procedures.
    Keywords: Models and principles, Systems and information theory, Artificial intelligence, General, Artificial intelligence, Knowledge representation formalisms and methods, Management of computing and information systems, Project and people management, Systems analysis and design, Systems development, Management of computing and information systems, System management, Centralization/decentralization, Design, Human factors
    Offices Are Open Systems BIBAK 271-287
      Carl Hewitt
    This paper is intended as a contribution to analysis of the implications of viewing offices as open systems. It takes a prescriptive stance on how to establish the information-processing foundations for taking action and making decisions in office work from an open systems perspective. We propose due process as a central activity in organizational information processing. Computer systems are beginning to play important roles in mediating the ongoing activities of organizations. We expect that these roles will gradually increase in importance as computer systems take on more of the authority and responsibility for ongoing activities. At the same time we expect computer systems to acquire more of the characteristics and structure of human organizations.
    Keywords: Programming techniques, Concurrent programming, Programming languages, Language classifications, Very high-level languages, Operating systems, Reliability, Artificial intelligence, Knowledge representation formalisms and methods, Artificial intelligence, Problem solving, Control methods and search, Plan execution, Formation, Generation, Management, Debate, Decision making, Due process, Logic, Microtheories, Negotiation, Offices, Open systems

    TOIS 1986 Volume 4 Issue 4

    Research Contributions

    A Model for Naming, Addressing, and Routing BIBAK 293-311
      Bernard M. Hauzeur
    Naming and addressing are areas in which there is still a need for clarification. Many definitions for names, addresses, and routes have been proposed, but the exact relations among these concepts are obscure. A taxonomy of names, addresses, and routes is presented. First, we identify names and routes as the essential concepts of communication. Then, addresses are introduced as an intermediate form that eases the process of mapping between names and routes; an original definition of an address is thus proposed. Relations among names, addresses, and routes are explained with the concept of mapping. On this basis, a general model relating names, addresses, and routes is built and then applied recursively throughout a layered architecture, leading to a layered naming and addressing model which may play the same role for naming and addressing features that the OSI reference model plays for the definition of services and protocols. Finally, the model is particularized to a typical network architecture. The model may also be applied to non-OIS layered systems; naming, addressing, and routing issues in any network architecture could be a particular instance of this layered model.
    Keywords: Computer-communication networks, General, Computer-communication networks, Network architecture and design, Design, Standardization, Theory, Addresses, Layered architecture, Mapping names, OSI model, Routes
    SEAVE: A Mechanism for Verifying User Presuppositions in Query Systems BIBAK 312-330
      Amihai Motro
    Every information system incorporates a database component, and a frequent activity of users of information systems is to present it with queries. These queries reflect the presuppositions of their authors about the system and the information it contains. With most query processors, queries that are based on erroneous presuppositions often result in null answers. These fake nulls are misleading, since they do not point out the user's erroneous presuppositions (and can even be interpreted as their affirmation). This article describes the SEAVE mechanism for extracting presuppositions from queries and verifying their correctness. The verification is done against three repositories of information: the actual data, their integrity constraints, and their completeness assertions. Consequently, queries that reflect erroneous presuppositions are answered with informative messages instead of null answers, and user-system communication is thus improved (an aspect that is particularly important in systems that often are accessed by naive users). First, the principles of SEAVE are described abstractly. Then, specific algorithms for implementing it with relational databases are presented, including a new method for storing knowledge and an efficient algorithm for processing queries against the knowledge.
    Keywords: Database management, Systems, Query processing, Information storage and retrieval, Information search and retrieval, Retrieval models, Design, Human factors, Languages, Cooperative user interface, Database, Database completeness, Database integrity, Erroneous presupposition, Query failure, Query generalization, Relational database
    Understanding the Office: A Social-Analytic Perspective BIBAK 331-344
      R. A. Hirschheim
    In order to apply office automation in a meaningful fashion, it is apparent that some understanding of the office is necessary. Most descriptive studies of the office have placed great emphasis on manifest office actions, suggesting that offices are the embodiment of these actions. The meanings of these actions or tasks, however, have been given scant attention. There exist a number of office activity or task taxonomies, but they do little more than provide a simple and limited structure through which to conceive of an office. From a social-analytic perspective this appears to be overly simplistic and misses the richness of social action in an office. Focusing on the overt and manifest aspects of the office may very well lead to its misrepresentation. This paper takes a critical look at the way offices are conceived in the office automation literature and suggests alternatives that may provide a better understanding of the real functions of an office.
    Keywords: Models and principles, User/machine systems, Information systems applications, Office automation, Computers and society, Public policy issues, Computers and society, Social issues, Computers and society, Organizational impacts, Human factors, Theory, Office automation, Office automation systems development, Office perspectives, Office views

    Practice and Experience

    Multimedia Document Presentation, Information Extraction, and Document Formation in MINOS: A Model and a System BIBAK 345-383
      S. Christodoulakis; M. Theodoridou; F. Ho; M. Papa; A. Pathria
    MINOS is an object-oriented multimedia information system that provides integrated facilities for creating and managing complex multimedia objects. In this paper the model for multimedia documents supported by MINOS and its implementation is described. Described in particular are functions provided in MINOS that exploit the capabilities of a modern workstation equipped with image and voice input-output devices to accomplish an active multimedia document presentation and browsing within documents. These functions are powerful enough to support a variety of office applications. Also described are functions provided for the extraction of information from multimedia documents that exist in a large repository of information (multimedia document archiver) and functions that select and transform this information. Facilities for information sharing among objects of the archiver are described; an interactive multimedia editor that is used for the extraction and interactive creation of new information is outlined; finally, a multimedia document formatter that is used to synthesize a new multimedia document from extracted and interactively generated information is presented.
       This prototype system runs on a SUN-3 workstation running UNIX. An Instavox, directly addressable, analog device is used to store voice segments.
    Keywords: Information storage and retrieval, Systems and software, Design, Human factors, Management, Images, Information browsing, Object-oriented systems, Office databases, Optical disks, Text access methods, Viewing, Voice