From research to practice: Results and open challenges
Guerrilla Collaboration Wins the Corporate Generals
Post-PC devices, cloud technologies, and the social networks revolution already changed the context for individual and 'consumer' collaboration. New generations grow in a 'tribal' social environment where collaboration is by definition informal, unstructured, episodic, real-time, and ad-hoc. It's the opposite of the structured, hierarchical traditional work environment in an enterprise or large organization. The idea of lean, unobtrusive, flexible systems to support informal collaborative work and tacit knowledge, a vision that many researchers in CSCW anticipated long time ago, is now real, but in a very different domain, the one of teenagers sharing their private lives and friendship. Yet, the social networking model of Facebook, the consumer cloud technology of Google, or the distributed devices of Apple, cannot be moved as is in the collaborative work environment.
Much work is needed to embrace these paradigms and carefully transfer them in different work contexts. The current socio-technical revolution serves as an inspiration but does not provide a solution - yet.
The Ubiquity of Work For Systems Design
With more emphasis being placed on the design of systems for leisure pursuits and fun, and for systems for use in the home and other non-work settings, it may be thought that ethnographic methodologies which have emphasised the study of work, work-practices, and the work-place are less relevant than they once were. However, work is a ubiquitous concept, its is found through out social life and is as relevant for the new activities and settings that systems design is turning to as it is for the more traditional interactions and settings that systems design has been concerned to support. Instead of attempting to develop new ethnographic methodologies, attention may be better directed to developing ethnography as a ubiquitous method in systems design rather than being merely useful in the design process, or a source of inspiration for designers, or finger-wagging.
Twenty years after, do we have other definitions of cooperation, coordination and collective activities in the new world of digital culture?
In the early 90's researchers of the COOP group were marked by a vision which was simultaneously cognitive (group problem-solving), oriented towards work setting (design and supervision of processes) and open to the formalization of coordination mechanisms (multi-agent modeling or workflow). The encounter with the emerging European CSCW community had been an opportunity for the COOP group to open up to new definitions of cooperation rather well described in the seminal paper by L. Bannon and K. Schmidt (1989). During these twenty years other paradigms for the analysis of collective activities and the design informational artifacts have gradually made a place. The analysis of collective activities opened on diverse theories such as situated cognition, distributed cognition, theories of the actor network, ethno-methodological approaches, theory of trajectories and social worlds, etc. Informational artifacts were increasingly apprehended as mobile devices, communities oriented platforms, web 2.0 environments, whose content was conceptualized as documents for action, mediated communication devices or more abstractly as boundary objects. But ultimately, the fundamental concepts of CSCW have they really changed during these years? The profound evolutions of the economic environment and the widespread diffusion of the digital culture have they transformed the foundations of CSCW researches? In this intervention we shall discuss these central issues: