Next: Architecture and Structure
Documents are often the goal of collaboration or the main shared information
space for collaboration. Increasingly, these documents are highly structured
and shared over a network. In a situation where tens or hundreds of people
are working on a proposal or a policy statement, or some other inherently group
document, it makes a lot of sense to have the system let teammates know what
had been done, or address mail about a change, or to let others know what the
work schedule is. CASCADE, Computer Augmented Support for
Collaborative Authoring and Document Editing, explores
ways to improve the quality of document centered collaboration--be it authoring
standards, developing strategic plans, or reviewing proposals and plans.
CASCADE allows groups to work together writing, revising, commenting and
discussing documents. While CASCADE is currently optimized for commenting and
document review, the basic infratructure supports any document centric process.
At its core, CASCADE provides augmented processes that make it easier to work
on complex electronic documents. CASCADE provides three kinds of supports for
- Augmentation. From the set of identifiable document
processes[51,10], tasks exist where only a small portion of
the subtasks require cognitive processing. In CASCADE, the task is so
structured as to offload the mechanical tasks to the computer. For example,
making a hypertext comment requires 10-15 actions (depending on how the process
is defined). Only one of these tasks, writing the comment itself, actually
requires the commenter--the rest can be done by the system. ``Augmentation'',
as used by Engelbart[25,24,26,23,22,21], involves task analysis and redesign to create a set of processes
that optimize the human side of the human computer interaction. CASCADE
augments comment and comment review processes already. Research will augment
additional document related processes.
- Information Utilization. Zuboff uses the term
``informating'' to refer to a process where an information stream generated by
a computer is used to improve the process. CASCADE uses information about
documents, groups, and actions to inform simple functions. For example, sending
mail begins with the subject, recipient, and originator fields of a mail note
filled in. CASCADE knows the email addresses, and how group members like to
receive their mail. Clicking one button attaches the document. The user
simply types the note and the document is off. We call this kind of
redesign ``information'' in the Zuboffian sense of the term as a direct
parallel to ``automation''.
- Substitution. There are many things that we would like others to do for us.
With advances in computing power and techniques, it is increasingly possible to design simple
software programs (agents) that appear to be intelligent -- and in some cases the
learning algorithms and control logic merit that title. In CASCADE, the
current plan for agent design focuses on simple ``contribution'' agents that do
little tasks on behalf of the user. For example, the communication agent keeps
track of where people ``live'' when they are using CASCADE. Knowing that, the
agent can go check those places when someone wants to contact them. The
CASCADE communication agent does just this. It keeps track of who a user wants
to talk to and watches for them. When found, it let's the user know, and if
the timing is still right, sets up an interactive talk session. We call this
kind of redesign ``substitution'' in the sense that the agent undertakes some
well defined task on behalf of the users and substitutes its effort for the
In addition, visualizations of data sets can increase the
speed with which targets of opportunity can be addressed[6,13,29,30,14,5,2].
CASCADE has a set of visual navigation tools that increase the speed with which sets of
documents, document components, and areas within documents can be accessed.
Current research is aimed at assessing the utility of these tools contrasted
against other mechanisms for accessing particular documents[43,9,40]. Apart from navigational tools, CASCADE provides visualization tools,
that augment activity analysis, tracking and reporting on various forms of activity in
a way that supports different views, and controls access to a large complex document set.
Next: Architecture and Structure
Fri Jan 31 13:59:00 EST 1997