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ACM Transactions on Office Information Systems 6

Editors:Robert B. Allen
Standard No:ISSN 1046-8188; HF S548.125 A33
Links:Table of Contents
  1. TOIS 1988 Volume 6 Issue 1
  2. TOIS 1988 Volume 6 Issue 2
  3. TOIS 1988 Volume 6 Issue 3
  4. TOIS 1988 Volume 6 Issue 4

TOIS 1988 Volume 6 Issue 1

Research Contributions

Query Processing in a Multimedia Document System BIBAK 1-41
  Elisa Bertino; Fausto Rabitti; Simon Gibbs
Query processing in a multimedia document system is described. Multimedia documents are information objects containing formatted data, text, image, graphics, and voice. The query language is based on a conceptual document model that allows the users to formulate queries on both document content and structure. The architecture of the system is outlined, with focus on the storage organization in which both optical and magnetic devices can coexist. Query processing and the different strategies evaluated by our optimization algorithm are discussed.
Keywords: Database management, Logical design, Data models, Database management, Languages, Query languages, Database management, Systems, Query processing, Information storage and retrieval, Systems and software, Information systems applications, Office automation, Algorithms, Design, Office document retrieval systems, Query optimization
Implementing Ranking Strategies Using Text Signatures BIBAK 42-62
  W. Bruce Croft; Pasquale Savino
Signature files provide an efficient access method for text in documents, but retrieval is usually limited to finding documents that contain a specified Boolean pattern of words. Effective retrieval requires that documents with similar meanings be found through a process of plausible inference. The simplest way of implementing this retrieval process is to rank documents in order of their probability of relevance. In this paper techniques are described for implementing probabilistic ranking strategies with sequential and bit-sliced signature files and the limitations of these implementations with regard to their effectiveness are pointed out. A detailed comparison is made between signature-based ranking techniques and ranking using term-based document representatives and inverted files. The comparison shows that term-based representations are at least competitive (in terms of efficiency) with signature files and, in some situations, superior.
Keywords: Database management, Physical design, Access methods, Information storage and retrieval, Library automation, Information systems applications, Office automation, Design, Performance, Document retrieval, Effectiveness, Information retrieval, Probabilistic retrieval, Ranking strategy, Signature file, Text retrieval
An Experimental Multimedia Mail System BIBAK 63-81
  Jonathan B. Postel; Gregory G. Finn; Alan R. Katz; Joyce K. Reynolds
A computer-based experimental multimedia mail system that allows the user to read, create, edit, send, and receive messages containing text, images, and voice is discussed.
Keywords: Computer communication networks, Distributed systems, Distributed applications, Software engineering, Tools and techniques, User interfaces, Information systems applications, Communications applications, Electronic mail, Text processing, Document preparation, Format and notation, Design, Performance, ARPANET, Bitmap, Electronic mail, Facsimile, Image, Internet, Mail protocol, Message system, Multimedia mail, Packet voice

TOIS 1988 Volume 6 Issue 2

Guest Editor's Introduction to the Special Issue

The Language/Action Perspective BIB 83-86
  Terry Winograd

Research Contributions

Bureaucracies as Deontic Systems BIBAK 87-108
  Ronald M. Lee
Bureaucratic offices are not only for clerical work, but more important, they are for officiating in the sense of issuing directives, granting permissions, enforcing prohibitions, waiving obligations, and so forth. Bureaucracies are thus deontic systems for organizational and social control. Conventional information processing approaches are inadequate for capturing these aspects of bureaucratic modeling. A logic-based representation that emphasizes deontic and performative aspects is proposed.
Keywords: Information systems applications, Types of systems, Decision support (MIS), Artificial intelligence, Knowledge representation formalisms and methods, Predicate logic, Representations (procedural and rule-based), Computer applications, Administrative data processing, Management of computing and information systems, System management, Design, Languages, Management, Bureaucracy, Deontic logic, Petri nets
Diplans: A New Language for the Study and Implementation of Coordination BIBAK 109-125
  Anatol W. Holt
In this paper the reader is introduced to coordination in the workplace as an object of scientific study and computer automation. Diplans are the expressions of a new graphical language used to describe plans of operation in human organizations. With diplans, systems of constraint, which may or may not take the form of procedure definitions, can be specified. Among the special strengths of diplans is their ability to render explicit the interactive aspects of complex work distributed over many people and places-in other words, coordination. Diplans are central to coordination technology, a new approach to developing support for cooperative work on heterogeneous computer networks.
Keywords: Computer-communication networks, Distributed systems, Information systems applications, Office automation, Information Systems applications, Communications applications, Computers and society, Organizational impacts, Design, Theory
A Speech-Act-Based Office Modeling Approach BIBAK 126-152
  Esa Auramaki; Erkki Lehtinen; Kalle Lyytinen
In this paper methods and principles that help to analyze offices as systems of communicative action are explored. In communicative action, office agents create commitments through symbolic means. A SAMPO (Speech-Act-based office Modeling aPprOach), which studies office activities as a series of speech acts creating, maintaining, modifying, reporting, and terminating commitments, is presented. The main steps and methods in the office system specification are outlined and their application illustrated through a simple example. In the final section advantages and disadvantages in the SAMPO are noted and some research directions for the future are suggested.
Keywords: Software engineering, Requirements/specifications, Information systems applications, Office automation, Information systems applications, Communications applications, Artificial intelligence, Applications and expert systems, Artificial intelligence, Natural language processing, Design, Human factors, Discourse analysis, Office information system, Specification and analysis, Speech act models
Computer Systems and the Design of Organizational Interaction BIBAK 153-172
  Fernando Flores; Michael Graves; Brad Hartfield; Terry Winograd
The goal of this paper is to relate theory to invention and application in the design of systems for organizational communication and management. We propose and illustrate a theory of design, technology, and action that we believe has been missing in the mainstream of work on office systems. At the center of our thinking is a theory of language as social action, which differs from the generally taken-for-granted understandings of what goes on in an organization. This approach has been presented elsewhere, and our aim here is to examine its practical implications and assess its effectiveness in the design of The Coordinator, a workgroup productivity system that is in widespread commercial use on personal computers.
Keywords: Information systems applications, Office automation, Information systems application, Communications applications, Electronic mail, Design, Human factors, Management, Conversation, Coordination, Language/action, Ontology, Speech act, The Coordinator

Book Review

Designing with the User BIB 173-183
  Lucy Suchman

TOIS 1988 Volume 6 Issue 3

Research Contributions

VAGUE: A User Interface to Relational Databases that Permits Vague Queries BIBAK 187-214
  Amihai Motro
A specific query establishes a rigid qualification and is concerned only with data that match it precisely. A vague query establishes a target qualification and is concerned also with data that are close to this target. Most conventional database systems cannot handle vague queries directly, forcing their users to retry specific queries repeatedly with minor modifications until they match data that are satisfactory. This article describes a system called VAGUE that can handle vague queries directly. The principal concept behind VAGUE is its extension to the relational data model with data metrics, which are definitions of distances between values of the same domain. A problem with implementing data distances is that different users may have different interpretations for the notion of distance. VAGUE incorporates several features that enable it to adapt itself to the individual views and priorities of its users.
Keywords: Database management, Logical design, Data models, Database management, Languages, Query languages, Database management, Systems, Query processing, Information storage and retrieval, Information search and retrieval, Retrieval models, Design, Human factors, Languages, Approximate match retrieval, Database, Data metric, Neighborhood query, Relational database, User interface, Vague query
Knowledge-Based Tools to Promote Shared Goals and Terminology Between Interface Designers BIBAK 215-231
  Robert Neches
Two tools that support cooperation are described: one for the construction of consistent and principled human-computer interfaces and the other for the construction of AI knowledge bases. These tools provide a central repository for design knowledge that otherwise would not be easily shared among users. The AI knowledge representation technology upon which the tools are founded is first described. A knowledge-based approach to interface construction is discussed, and how that approach applies to detecting design conflicts and inconsistencies stemming from two different kinds of team communication failure is illustrated. Next, a knowledge acquisition aid that is utilized within the interface construction paradigm and that also illustrates the same approach to supporting cooperative work is described. Finally, four sources of difficulty in team design efforts, which this approach seeks to address, are reviewed.
Keywords: Software engineering, Programming teams, Artificial intelligence, Office automation, Design, Cooperative work, Design tools, Knowledge bases, User interfaces
A Rule-Based Message Filtering System BIBAK 232-254
  Stephen Pollock
Much computerized support for knowledge workers has consisted of tools to handle low-level functions such as distribution, storage, and retrieval of information. However, the higher level processes of making decisions and taking actions with respect to this information have not been supported to the same degree. This paper describes the ISCREEN prototype system for screening text messages. ISCREEN includes a high-level interface for users to define rules, a component that screens text messages, and a conflict detection component that examines rules for inconsistencies. An explanation component uses text generation to answer user queries about past or potential system actions based on Grice's conversational maxims.
Keywords: Information systems, User/machine systems, Human factors Information systems applications, Communications applications, Electronic mail, Artificial intelligence, Applications and expert systems, Office automation, Artificial intelligence, Natural language processing, Language generation, Human factors, Cooperative tools, Explanation systems, Intelligent interfaces, Text generation
Access to, Usage of, and Outcomes from an Electronic Messaging System BIBAK 255-276
  Ronald E. Rice; Douglas E. Shook
This study examines relationships among perceived accessibility to an electronic messaging system (EMS), computer-monitored and reported usage of the system by approximately 100 employees of one division of an aerospace firm, user's job type, perceived appropriateness of the EMS, and reported outcomes such as changes in effectiveness and use of paper-based media. Greater accessibility resulted in more usage and reported increases in effectiveness. Physical distance to a terminal affects the associations of other aspects of accessibility with usage and has a greater influence on these associations earlier in one's adoption process. Differences in job type showed statistically significant associations with usage, independent of the influence of accessibility. Computer-monitored and reported usage measures were only moderately correlated and were differentially associated with the access measures and with the two outcomes. The article ends by discussing implications for implementation and evaluation of computer-based communication systems, theories of media characteristics and information value, and methodological issues in using computer-monitored usage data.
Keywords: Computer system implementation, Miscellaneous, Information systems applications, Communications applications, Electronic mail, Computers and society, Organizational impacts, Management of computing and information systems, Project and people management, Life cycle, Management of computing and information systems, Installation management, Performance and usage measurement, Management, Measurement, Performance, Accessibility, Communication augmentation, Computer-monitored data, Media substitutability

Practice and Experience

Wireless Intraoffice Networks BIBAK 277-302
  K. Pahlavan
An overview of the existing and growing demands for wireless office information networks is provided, and the existing research activities are assessed in some detail. The radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) communication technologies are examined as candidates for wireless intraoffice communications. The available bandwidths, according to federal regulations and characteristics of the channel for RF communications, are given. Digital narrow-band and wideband spread-spectrum RF communications are assessed in terms of supportable data rate or number of simultaneous users in one cell of a cellular architecture in an office environment. Various limitations of IR communications are discussed and existing systems and architectures are reviewed.
Keywords: General literature, Introductory and survey, Computer-communication networks, Network architecture and design, Packet networks, Computer-communication networks, Local networks, Models and principles, Systems and information theory, General systems theory, Information systems applications, Office automation, Equipment, Design, Performance, Theory, Cellular networks, Infrared networks, Optical networks, Radio networks, Spread spectrum, Wireless networks

TOIS 1988 Volume 6 Issue 4

Editorial: Introduction to the Special Issue

Selected Papers from the Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW'88) BIB none
  Irene Greif

Research Contributions

gIBIS: A Hypertext Tool for Exploratory Policy Discussion BIBAK 303-331
  Jeff Conklin; Michael L. Begeman
This paper describes an application-specific hypertext system designed to facilitate the capture of early design deliberations. It implements a specific method, called Issue Based Information Systems (IBIS), which has been developed for use on large, complex design problems. The hypertext system described here, gIBIS (for graphical IBIS), makes use of color and a high-speed relational database server to facilitate building and browsing typed IBIS networks. Further, gIBIS is designed to support the collaborative construction of these networks be any number of cooperating team members spread across a local area network. Early experiments suggest that the IBIS method is still incomplete, but there is a good match between the tool and method even in this experimental version.
Keywords: Software engineering, Requirements/specifications, Methodologies, Tools, Software engineering, Tools and techniques, Models and principles, General, Models and principles, User/machine systems, Information systems applications, Type of systems, Decision support (e.g., MIS), Information systems applications, Communications applications, Administrative data processing, Design, Documentation, Management, Issue-based information systems, Planning
Object Lens: A "Spreadsheet" for Cooperative Work BIBAK 332-353
  Kum-Yew Lai; Thomas W. Malone; Keh-Chiang Yu
Object Lens allows unsophisticated computer users to create their own cooperative work applications using a set of simple, but powerful, building blocks. By defining and modifying templates for various semistructured objects, users can represent information about people, tasks, products, messages, and many other kinds of information in a form that can be processed intelligently by both people and their computers. By collecting these objects in customizable folders, users can create their own displays which summarize selected information from the objects in table or tree formats. Finally, by creating semiautonomous agents, users can specify rules for automatically processing this information in different ways at different times.
   The combination of these primitives provides a single consistent interface that integrates facilities for object-oriented databases, hypertext, electronic messaging, and rule-based intelligent agents. To illustrate the power of this combined approach, we describe several simple examples of applications (such as task tracking, intelligent message routing, and database retrieval that we have developed in this framework.
Keywords: Models and principles, User/machine systems, Database management, Logical design, Data models, Schema and subschema, Database management, Languages, Data description languages (DDL), Database management, Systems, Distributed systems, Information storage and retrieval, Content analysis and indexing, Information storage and retrieval, Systems and software, Information systems applications, Office automation, Information systems applications, Communications applications, Artificial intelligence, Applications and expert systems, Office automation, Artificial intelligence, Knowledge representation formalisms and methods, Frames and scripts, Representations, Text processing, Document preparation, Format and notation, Design, Economics, Human factors, Management, Computer-supported cooperative work, Hypertext, Information Lens, Intelligent agents, Object-oriented databases, Semiformal systems
Work Group Structures and Computer Support: A Field Experiment BIBAK 354-379
  J. D. Eveland; T. K. Bikson
It is frequently suggested that work groups that have computer technology to support activities such as text editing, data manipulation, and communication develop systematically different structures and working processes from groups that rely on more conventional technologies such as memos, phone calls, and meetings. However, cross-sectional or retrospective research designs to do not allow this hypothesis to be tested with much power. This field experiment created two task forces, each composed equally of recently retired employees and employees still at work but eligible to retire. They were given the identical tasks of preparing reports for their company on retirement planning issues, but they were randomly assigned to different technology conditions. One group had full conventional office support; the other had, in addition, networked microcomputers with electronic mail and routine office software. Structured interviews were conducted four times during the year-long project; in addition, electronic mail activity was logged in the on-line group. Although both groups produced effective reports, the two differed significantly in the kind of work they produced, the group structures that emerged, and evaluations of their own performance. Although the standard group was largely dominated by the employees through the extensive reliance on informal meetings, the electronic technology used by the other task force allowed the retirees to exercise primary leverage. We conclude that use of computer support for cooperative work results in both quantitative and qualitative changes but that effective participation in such electronically supported groups requires significant investments of time and energy on the part of its members to master the technology and a relatively high level of assistance during the learning process.
Keywords: Information systems applications, Communications applications, Electronic mail, Computers and society, Social issues, Employment, Computers and society, Organizational impacts, Experimentation, Human factors, Management, Communication, Computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), Group processes, Social structures

Practice and Experience

Diversity in the Use of Electronic Mail: A Preliminary Inquiry BIBAK 380-397
  Wendy E. Mackay
This paper describes a series of interviews that examine the ways that professional office workers use electronic mail to manage their daily work. The purpose is to generate hypotheses for future research. A number of implications for the design of flexible mail systems are discussed.
   Two principal claims are made. First, the use of electronic mail is strikingly diverse, although not infinitely so. Individuals vary both in objective measures of mail use and in preferred strategies for managing work electronically. Feelings of control are similarly diverse and related to the size of the user's inbox, numbers of folders, and subscriptions to distribution lists. This diversity implies that one's own experiences with electronic mail are unlikely to provide sufficient understanding of other's uses of mail. Mail designers should thus seek flexible primitives that capture the important dimensions of use and provide flexibility for a wide range of users.
   The second claim is that electronic mail is more than just a communication system. Users archive messages for subject retrieval, prioritize messages to sequence work activities, and delegate tasks via mail. A taxonomy of work management is proposed in which mail is used for information management, time management, and task management activities. Directions for future research are suggested.
Keywords: Information systems applications, Electronic mail, Human factors, Management, Computer-supported cooperative work, Electronic mail, Information filtering, Information Lens, Task management, Time management
Guided Tours and Tabletops: Tools for Communicating in a Hypertext Environment BIBAK 398-414
  Randall H. Trigg
The author of a complex hypertext document is often faced with the problem of conveying the document's meaning to future readers through a shared computer environment. Two tools implemented in the NoteCards hypertext environment, guided tours and tabletops, allow authors to employ annotation, graphic layout, and ordered presentation when communicating to readers. This paper describes these tools and gives examples of their use. Issues of remote pointing arising from an application in legal argumentation are discussed as well as early work on the use of these tools to support sharing of hypertext strategies among NoteCards users.
Keywords: Models and principles, User/machine systems, Human factors, Information systems applications, Types of systems, Text processing, Miscellaneous, Design, Experimentation, Human factors, Collaborative work, Hypermedia, Hypertext