Computers are valuable tools for a wide range of work tasks. A substantial limitation on their value, however, is the predominant focus on enhancing the work of individuals. This fails to account for the issues of collaboration that affect almost all work. Research into computer supported cooperative work (CSCW) aims to eliminate this deficiency, but the promise of computer systems for group work has not been met.
This thesis presents four design principles that promote the development of successful groupware. The principles identify the particular problems encountered by groupware, and provide guidelines and strategies to avoid, overcome, or minimise their impact. Derived from several sources, the major influence on the principles development is an investigation into the relationship between factors affecting groupware failure. They are stimulated by observations of groupware use, and by design insights arising from the development of two groupware applications and their prototypes: Mona and TELEFREEK.
Mona provides conversation-based email management. Several groupware applications allow similar functionality, but the design principles result in Mona using different mechanisms to achieve its user-support.
TELEFREEK provides a platform for accessing computer-supported communication and collaboration facilities. It attends to the problems of initiating interaction, and supports an adaptable and extendible set of “social awareness” assistants. TELEFREEK offers a broader range of facilities than other groupware, and avoids the use of prohibitively high-bandwidth communication networks. TELEFREEK demonstrates that much can be achieved through current and widely accessible technology.
Together, Mona and TELEFREEK forcefully demonstrate the use of the design principles, and substantiate the claim of their utility.