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Title: Communication Concepts * Computer-Mediated Communications * GroupWare


1
Communication ConceptsComputer-Mediated
CommunicationsGroupWare
2
Communication
  • Communication is an interpersonal process of
    sending and receiving symbols with messages
    attached to them.

3
General Model of a Communication System
Feedback
Receiver Decoder
Transmitter encoder
Source
Destination
Channel
Noise and Distortion
4
Basic Communication Concepts
  • Social Context
  • Personal, Impersonal, and Anonymous Communication
  • Time, Place, and Direction of Communication

5
Social Context
  • The situation and relationships within which
    communication takes place.
  • Social presence
  • Organizational position
  • Relationships
  • Cultural Norms
  • Age
  • Gender
  • The topic being discussed
  • Nonverbal communication
  • Media Richness Theory

6
Personal, Impersonal, and Anonymous Communication
  • Personal - the relationship between sender and
    receiver matters. It affects form and content.
  • Impersonal - The sender and receivers
    relationship does not matter. Both serve as
    agents of the organization.
  • Anonymous - The senders identity is hidden from
    the recipient.

7
Time, Place, and Direction of Communication
  • Synchronous - The sender and Receiver are
    available simultaneously
  • Asynchronous - The sender and receiver are not
    available simultaneously.
  • Place Involves Physical Presence
  • Direction One-way vs. Two Way communication.

8
Common Communications Classified By Time and
Place
Presentation Systems Copyboards PC
Projectors Facilitation Services Polling
Systems Group Decision Rooms
Transaction databases Shared Files Electronic
Mail Voice Mail Shift Work Communications
SAME PLACE
EDI Electronic Mail Computer Conferencing Voice
Mail Fax
DIFFERENT PLACE
Typical Telephone Video Telephone Video
Conferencing Live Radio TV Broadcast
SAME TIME
DIFFERENT TIME
9
Approaches for Improving Communication
  • Presentation Technologies
  • Eliminate Unnecessary Person to Person
    Communication
  • Make Communications more systematic
  • Combine and Extend Electronic Communications

10
Making Face to Face More Effective
  • Presentation Technologies
  • Blackboard
  • Prepared Paper Handouts
  • Overhead projector or slide projector with color
    transparencies
  • Electronic Blackboard
  • Computer LCD Display panels
  • Computer for What-If Scenarios
  • Computer-controlled Multi-media
  • Computer controlled multi-media with interactive
    control.

11
Eliminate Unnecessary Person to Person
Communication
  • Substitute on-line Access to data
  • Example Supplier/Customer Relationships
  • ATM access
  • Automated Telephone Attendants
  • Danger of becoming too impersonal

12
Making Communication Systematic
  • Contrast communication between people vs.
    communication between machines.
  • The business Memo Header
  • To
  • From
  • Date
  • Re
  • Having structure reduces the effort required to
    figure out what the communication means.
  • Even with communication between groups of people,
    repetitive aspects of communication are
    systematized.

13
Combine and Extend Electronic Communication
Functions
  • Early communication technologies have been
    combined and extended to create more powerful
    communication technologies.
  • Example Telegraph, Telephone, Radio Broadcast

14
Collaborative Work
15
Supporting Collaborative Work
  • The term group, or work group refers to two or
    more individuals who act as one unit to perform a
    task.

16
Benefits of Working in A Group
  • Groups are better than individuals at
    understanding problems.
  • People are accountable for decisions in which
    they participate.
  • Groups are better than individuals in catching
    errors.
  • A group has more information (Knowledge) than any
    one member, and, as a result, more alternatives
    are generated for problem solving.
  • Synergy may develop so that the effectiveness of
    the group is greater than what could have been
    produced individually.

17
Benefits of Working in A Group - 2
  • Working in a group may stimulate the process and
    the individuals.
  • Group members have their own egos imbedded in the
    decision they make, so they will be committed to
    the implementation.
  • The participation of the members means less
    likelihood of their resisting implementation.

18
Dysfunctions of Groups
  • Social Pressures of Conformity (groupthink) may
    eliminate superior ideas.
  • Time-consuming, slow process (e.g. tendency to
    repeat what was already said).
  • Lack of coordination of the work done by the
    group.
  • Inappropriate influence of group dynamics
    (domination by some, fear to speak by others).
  • Tendency of group members to rely on others
    (free ride)

19
Dysfunctions of Groups -2
  • Tendency toward compromised solutions of poor
    quality.
  • Inability to complete a Task
  • Large non-productive time .
  • Larger cost of making decisions (many hours of
    participation, travel time, etc.).
  • Incomplete or inappropriate use of information.

20
Improving the Work of Groups
  • Nominal Group Technique
  • Delphi Methods
  • Computer-Supported Cooperative Work

21
Nominal Group Technique
  • Typical group dynamic method.
  • Includes a sequence of activities
  • 1. silent generation of ideas in writing
  • 2. round-robin listing of ideas on flip chart
  • 3. serial discussion of ideas
  • 4. silent listing and ranking of priorities
  • 5. discussion or priorities
  • 6. silent re-ranking and rating of priorities
  • Based on social-psychological research which
    indicates procedure is clearly superior to
    conventional discussion groups for generating
    higher quality decisions, greater quantity of
    ideas, and improved distribution of information
    on fact-finding tasks.

22
Nominal Group Technique - 2
  • The success of the NGT technique and similar
    methods depends considerably on the quality of
    the facilitator and on the training given to
    participants.
  • The approach does not solve several of the
    dysfunctions of groups such as fear to speak,
    slow process, poor planning and organization of
    the meeting, compromises, and lack of appropriate
    analysis.

23
Delphi Methods
  • Originally designed by RAND Corp. as a
    technological forecasting technique for a group
    of experts.
  • Designed to eliminate undesirable effects of
    interaction among group members.
  • The experts do not meet face-to-face, and they do
    not know who the other experts are.
  • Each group member provides individual ideas,
    opinions, etc. with supporting arguments,
    assumptions, rankings, etc.
  • A facilitator edits, clarifies, and summarizes
    the data.

24
Delphi Methods - 2
  • Results are provided as anonymous feedback to
    group members along with second round of
    questions.
  • Questions and feedback continue anonymously for
    several rounds becoming increasingly more
    specific until consensus is reached or their is
    no more movement of group members on their
    individual positions.
  • Through anonymity, negative effects associated
    with face to face solutions are avoided (e.g.
    dominant behavior, groupthink, and stubbornness
    to change ones mind).

25
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)
  • The electronic workplace - an organization wide
    system that integrates information processing and
    communication activities.
  • The study of such activities is part of a
    multi-disciplinary field called
    computer-supported cooperative work.
  • CSCW looks at how groups work together and seeks
    to discover how technology can help them work.

26
Whats In A Name?
  • Very often the following terms are used
    interchangeably
  • computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW)
  • Electronic meeting systems (EMS)
  • Computer-mediated Communications (CMC)
  • Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS)
  • GroupWare
  • Coordination Systems

27
GroupWare
  • Commercial CSCW products (The Coordinator, Lotus
    Notes) are often referred to as examples of
    GroupWare.
  • It is often used synonymously with CSCW
    technology.
  • Others may look at GroupWare as the class of
    applications arising from the merging of
    computers are large information databases, and
    communication technology.

28
GroupWare Origins
  • Most software systems originally supported only
    the interaction between a user and the system.
  • Whether preparing a document, querying a
    database, or playing a game, the user only
    interacted with the system.
  • However, this is not the way most people work in
    daily life.
  • The term personal computer is becoming an
    oxymoron.
  • Three key ideas in group interaction
    communication, collaboration, and coordination.

29
Communication
  • Computer-based or computer-mediated communication
    is not fully integrated with other forms of
    communication.
  • Asynchronous text-based e-mail and bulletin
    boards vs. synchronous telephone and face to face
    conversation.
  • One can not transfer a document between two phone
    numbers, and can not originate a voice
    conversation between two workstations.
  • Telecommunications technologies and computer
    processing technologies will still grow closer
    together.

30
Collaboration
  • Collaboration is the cornerstone of group
    activity. Effective collaboration demands people
    share information.
  • Current database systems insulate users from one
    another.
  • CAD system designers Seldom are they able to
    simultaneously modify different parts of the same
    object.
  • Many tasks require a finer granularity of
    sharing.
  • Needed Shared environments that unobtrusively
    offer up to date group context and explicit
    notification of user's actions.

31
Coordination
  • The effectiveness of communication and
    collaboration can be enhanced if a groups
    activities are coordinated.
  • Without coordination, a group may engage in
    conflicting or repetitive actions.
  • Coordination is an activity itself - necessary
    overhead when several parties are performing a
    task.
  • Although most databases provide multiple accesses
    to shared objects, most tools accomplish this
    from a single-user perspective.

32
GroupWare Formal Definition
  • GroupWare computer-based systems that support
    groups of people engaged in a common task (or
    goal) and that provide an interface to a shared
    environment.
  • Timesharing would not generally be considered
    GroupWare.
  • The activity need not be simultaneous.
  • Johnson-Lenz definition of GroupWare
    computer-based systems plus social group
    processes.

33
GroupWare Spectrum
Common Task Dimension
HIGH Software System Review or Collaborative Writi
ng
LOW Timesharing System
Shared Environment Dimension
LOW Electronic Mail
HIGH Virtual Classroom
34
Taxonomy of GroupWare Systems Time-Space
SAME TIME DIFFERENT TIME
Face to Face interaction
Asynchronous Interaction
SAME PLACE
Any Time Any Place
DIFFERENT PLACES
Synchronous Distributed Interaction
Asynchronous Distributed Interaction
35
Taxonomy of GroupWare Systems Application-Level
  • Message Systems
  • Screen Sharing
  • GDSS and Electronic Meeting Rooms (EMS)
  • Computer Conferencing
  • Intelligent Agents
  • Coordination Systems
  • Workflow Systems

36
Message Systems
  • Asynchronous exchange of textual and non-textual
    messages between groups of users.
  • Concept of attachments
  • Danger of Information Overload
  • Filtering and Filing functionality
  • Attachment of scripts

37
Screen-Sharing
  • In collaborative work, members are often in
    different locations.
  • As an example, special software allows groups to
    jointly compose and edit a document, spreadsheet,
    or other entity.
  • Synchronous and asynchronous use.
  • Concurrent read access to entire document, but
    only one writer updates a segment at a time.
  • Locking as in database management with versioning
    is important.
  • Explicit notification of other user actions.
  • Another example electronic whiteboards.

38
GDSS and EMS
  • GDSS provide computer-based facilities for
    exploration of unstructured problems.
  • Goal is to improve the productivity of
    decision-making meetings, by speeding up the
    process or improve the quality of the resulting
    decisions.
  • Many GDSSs are implemented at EMSs. Arizonas
    Groupsystems).

39
Computer Conferencing
  • Real-time computer conferencing
  • teleconferencing (voice and video)
  • asynchronous computer conferencing

40
Intelligent Agents
  • Not all participants in electronic meetings are
    people.
  • In general, intelligent agents are responsible
    for a specific set of tasks, and the user
    interface makes their actions resemble those of
    other users.

41
Coordination Systems
  • The coordination problem is the integration and
    harmonious adjustment of individual work efforts.
  • Typically such systems allow individuals to view
    their actions, and those of others, within the
    context of the overall goal.
  • Systems may trigger user actions.
  • Four types of Models form, procedure,
    conversation, or communication-structure oriented.

42
The Coordinator
  • The Coordinator is a commercial GroupWare product
    for messaging.
  • It is based on a set of speech acts (i.e.
    requests promises, etc.) and contains a model of
    legal conversation modes (e.g. a request has to
    be issued before a promise can be made).
  • As users make conversational moves, typically
    through e-mail, the system tracks their requests
    and commitments

43
Workflow Systems
  • Perhaps a special case of coordination systems.
  • Business process automation tools that place
    system controls in the hands of user departments.
  • Highly flexible and can be designed to automate
    almost any information processing task.
  • Primary purpose is to provide users with
    tracking, routing, document imaging, and other
    capabilities designed to improve business
    processes.

44
Assumptions and Goals of various forms of
Computer-Mediated Communication
45
Assumptions and Goals
  • for the group to exhibit collective intelligence
  • support communications 24 hours per day, 7 days
    per week, both synchronously and asynchronously.
  • tailorability of communication structure for
    groups needs
  • Appropriate communication structures are
    extremely sensitive to group norms and
    organizational culture.
  • Individuals have a great deal of leeway as to
    what mode of communication they will use. You
    can nor force users to use electronic means.

46
Assumptions and Goals - 2
  • Individual and group problem solving requirements
    imply that one must integrate computing and data
    resources as part of the communication process.
  • Individuals and groups must be able to exercise a
    high degree of tailorability to the communication
    environment and interface.
  • Privacy and security of human communication are
    essential to the acceptance of the system.
  • Human roles, and computer support of human roles
    are key factors in the success of group
    activities.

47
AsynchronousGroup Operations
  • Fallacy The best way to automate something is
    the way it was originally done manually.
  • Although it may sound easy to sell a system that
    way, it may be the worst way to design a system
    for increased benefits.
  • Example Asynchronous Communication should not
    necessarily be thought of as problem because it
    is not the sequential process used in
    face-to-face mode.
  • Issue should be to exploit the opportunity of
    asynchronous communication to make a group
    process better than face to face communication.

48
AsynchronousGroup Operations - 2
  • The potential for real improvement in group
    processes lies in the fact that individuals can
    deal with that part of the problem they can
    contribute to at a given time, regardless of
    where the other individuals are in the process.

49
Whats In a name? (again)...
  • Group Decision Support Systems (GDSS)
  • Electronic Meeting Systems (EMS)
  • Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)
  • Computer-Mediated Communication (CMC)

50
Designing Groupware
  • What would some of the entities or objects of
    discourse be in a Group Decision Support System
    (GDSS)?
  • PROBLEMS, ISSUES, QUESTIONS
  • GOALS, OBJECTIVES, PLANS
  • STRATEGIES, POLICIES, AGENDAS
  • CONCERNS, CRITERIA ARGUMENTS
  • ASSUMPTIONS, VIEWPOINTS
  • OPINIONS, VALUES, INTERESTS
  • CONSEQUENCES, SCENARIOS, IMPACTS
  • TRADEOFFS, COMPROMISE, PROPOSALS
  • SOLUTIONS, DECISIONS, PROJECTS
  • TASKS, ALLOCATIONS, POSSIBILITIES

51
Designing Groupware - 2
  • What are some desirable features in a GDSS?
  • ALTERNATIVE GENERATION
  • STANDARD SETTING
  • GOAL AND OBJECTIVE SETTING
  • PROJECT FORMULATION
  • PROJECT STATUS TRACKING
  • PROBLEM EXAMINATION
  • RISK DETERMINATION
  • MODEL BUILDING
  • COLLABORATIVE WRITING

52
Designing Groupware - 3
  • Some GDSS Tools
  • VOTING SCALES
  • RANK ORDERING
  • COMPARATIVE ORDERING
  • INTERVAL RATIO SCALING
  • DECISION TREES
  • INFLUENCE MATRICES
  • RISK ANALYSIS
  • DECISION TABLES
  • STAKEHOLDER ROLES
  • GAMING

53
COMPUTER MEDIATED COMMUNICATIONS (CMC)
  • OBJECTIVES
  • FACILITATION OF GROUP ACTIVITIES
  • TAILORING COMMUNICATION STRUCTURES AND PROTOCOLS
    AROUND THE APPLICATION AND THE GROUP
  • COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
  • CAN THE GROUP PERFORM BETTER THAN THE BEST MEMBER
    ACTING ALONE (SPEED AND QUALITY)

54
COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE
  • CAPTURING INDIVIDUAL KNOWLEDGE
  • FORMING A GROUP SYNTHESIS
  • FEEDBACK TO GROUP
  • EVALUATION BY THE GROUP
  • EVOLUTION AND ADOPTION BY GROUP
  • USE BY THE GROUP FOR THE GROUP AND THIS GDSS
    SHALL NOT PERISH
  • INTEGRATION OF COMPUTER RESOURCES
  • POWER TO THE GROUP

55
Theoretical Foundationsfor Electronic Meeting
Systems
56
Remember...
  • Whats in a Name?
  • Group Decision Support System
  • Electronic Meeting System
  • Computer Mediated Communication Systems

57
Theoretical Foundations for Electronic Meeting
Systems
Group
Task
Process
Outcome
Context
Technology
58
Theoretical Foundations
  • Meeting outcomes (e.g. efficiency, effectiveness,
    satisfaction, etc.) depend on the interaction
    within the meeting process of four things
  • the group members
  • working on a task at hand
  • context factors
  • with the technology of the electronic meeting
    system and the components of the technology the
    group uses (e.g. anonymity).

59
Theoretical Foundations Group Characteristics
  • Group Size
  • Group Proximity
  • Group Composition (peers or hierarchical)
  • Group Cohesiveness, etc.

60
Foundations Task Characteristics
  • Activities to accomplish the task (idea
    generation, decision choice, etc)
  • Task complexity, equivocality, structure,
    analyzability, importance, etc.
  • Task Type
  • Creativity
  • Intellective
  • Preference
  • Planning
  • Cognitive Conflict
  • Mixed Motive

61
Foundations Context Characteristics
  • Environment
  • competition,
  • uncertainty,
  • time pressure,
  • evaluative tone (critical vs. supportive)
  • Organizational
  • information system
  • age
  • culture
  • reward structure (none vs. individual vs. group)
  • power structure

62
Foundations Technology Characteristics
  • The Technology used
  • (the computer-mediated communication system,
  • The GDSS
  • The EMS
  • How it was designed, its structures, its features
    etc).
  • In other words, the design of the technology is
    important.
  • Example Try comparing 2 simple e-mail systems,

63
Group Processes
  • Certain processes improve outcomes while others
    impair outcomes
  • Meeting outcomes depend on the processes losses
    and gains

64
Group Processes Gains
  • More information - group as a whole has more
    information than any one member
  • Synergy - A member uses information in a way that
    the original holder did not, because that member
    has different information or skills.
  • Stimulation - working as a group may stimulate
    and encourage individuals to perform better.
  • Learning - Members may learn and imitate more
    skilled members to improve performance.

65
Group Process Losses
  • Air time Fragmentation - The group must partition
    available speaking time among members.
  • Attenuation Blocking - members who can not
    contribute comments as they occur to the member,
    forget or suppress them later in the meeting
    because they seem less relevant.
  • Concentration Blocking - Fewer comments are
    contributed since members concentrate on these
    until they can be contributed.
  • Attention Blocking - New comments are not
    contributed since members must constantly listen
    to others.

66
Group Process Losses - 2
  • Failure to Remember - Members lack focus on
    communication, missing or forgetting the
    contributions of others.
  • Conformance Pressure - members are reluctant to
    criticize the comments of others due to
    politeness or fear of reprisal.
  • Evaluation apprehension - fear of negative
    evaluation causes members to withhold ideas
  • Free Riding - Members rely on others to
    accomplish goals, due to cognitive loafing.
  • Cognitive Inertia - Discussion moves along one
    train of thought without deviating..

67
Group Processes Losses - 3
  • Domination - Some group members exercise undue
    influence or monopolize group time.
  • Socializing - Non-task discussion
  • Information Overload - Information is presented
    faster than it can be processed.
  • Coordination problems - Difficulty coordinating
    members contributions.
  • Incomplete Use of Information - Incomplete access
    to and use of information necessary for
    successful task completion.
  • Incomplete Task analysis - groups engaging in
    superficial discussions might face this problem

68
EMS Effects
  • EMS can affect this balance of gains and losses
    through four mechanisms
  • process support
  • process structure
  • task structure
  • task support

69
Process Support
  • Communication infrastructure (i.e. media,
    channels, devices, etc. electronic or otherwise)
    that facilitates communication among the group
    members.
  • Example electronic communication channel,
    blackboard.

70
Process Structure
  • Refers to the techniques or rules concerning the
    timing, content, pattern, etc. of communication
  • Example agenda or process methodology such as
    the Nominal Group Technique
  • Example Roberts Rules of Order provides a
    process structure.

71
Task Support
  • refers to the information and computation
    infrastructure for task-related activities.
  • Example external databases, calculators, etc.
  • Example Suppose the group has some data but they
    would like to have some descriptive statistics to
    better understand the data.
  • Example Access to public information on the Web.

72
Task Structure
  • Refers to the rules, techniques, models to help
    analyze task relation information to gain new
    insight
  • Example models used in a DSS

73
Electronic Meeting Systems
  • EMS can be looked as a convenient means by which
    to deliver process support, process structure,
    task support and task structure
  • Nunamaker et al. from University of Arizona
    emphasize process support
  • The important to note is that the four mechanisms
    (Process Support, Process Structure, Task
    Support, Task Structure) change the process
    losses and gains

74
Process Support
  • This can be provided by the EMS in three ways
  • parallel communication
  • group memory
  • anonymity

75
Parallel communication
  • each member has a workstation with an electronic
    channel enabling everyone to communicate
  • Reduces following losses
  • air time fragmentation
  • attenuation blocking
  • concentration blocking
  • domination, etc.
  • Process gains enhanced
  • synergy
  • use of more information
  • increased interaction
  • stimulate and promote learning

76
Group memory
  • EMS can record all electronic comments
  • Reduce following losses
  • failure to remember
  • attention blocking
  • incomplete use of information
  • may promote synergy and reduce information
    overload
  • Support for automatic indexing, keywords,
    filtering, etc. can make recall even easier.

77
Anonymity
  • EMS may provide some degree of anonymity
  • This may reduce the pressure to conform and
    evaluation apprehension
  • Might increase free riding since it becomes more
    difficult to find out who contributes and who
    does not.
  • Might provide a low threat environment and
    increase contributions.

78
Media Effects
  • Media speed (typing slower than talking)
  • media richness (less richer media than
    face-to-face)
  • depersonalization (separation of individuals from
    comments)
  • deindividuation (loss of self or group awareness)
  • Loss of global view of task
  • Flaming, etc

79
Typical EMS Tools for Process Support
80
Activity Idea Generation
  • Brainstorming - anonymous generation of new
    ideas.
  • Topic Commentator - A set of electronic index
    cards for simultaneous entry of information on
    multiple topics.
  • Group Outliner - Organization of Ideas according
    to a structured outline form,

81
Activity Idea Organization
  • Idea Organizer - Organization of comments
    received from idea generation.
  • Issue Analyzer - Identification and consolidation
    of comments from idea generation into major
    issues.
  • Group writer - Joint authoring of a document by
    meeting participants.

82
Activity Prioritizing
  • Vote Selection -Choice of voting method (e.g.
    yes/no, multiple choice, ranking), voting, and
    vote results presentation.
  • Alternative evaluation - ranking of alternatives
    (using multiple criteria).
  • Questionnaire - electronic questionnaire form.
  • Group matrix - ratings of ideas on a two
    dimensional matrix.

83
Activity Policy Development
  • Policy Formulation - Structured support for
    reaching consensus on policy statements.
  • Stakeholder identifier - structured stakeholder
    identification

84
Activity Knowledge Accumulation
Representation
  • Another name for Knowledge Accumulation is
    Organizational Memory.
  • Enterprise Analyzer - Organizing and analyzing
    group information.
  • Graphical browser - Identify and zero in on nodes
    of enterprise analyzer.
  • Group Dictionary - development and storage of
    formal definition of terms used by participants.
  • Brief case - immediate read-only access to any
    stored information

85
Summary
  • Each of these activities
  • Idea Generation
  • Idea Organization
  • Prioritizing
  • Policy Development
  • Knowledge accumulation and representation
  • is a form of Process Support
  • Note the resemblance to Simons stages of
    Decision Making.
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