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CASCADE looks to extend the capability of group members to focus their intellectual activities on the document artifact by offloading nonessential cognitive activities. Work by Rosenberg [3], Weiser [5], Wellner [7], and Bentley et. al. [8] have looked at how various agents, tools and methods might be incorporated in a work environment to assist members of a group in working together.

The agents and tools planned for CASCADE are grounded in the theory of collaborative authoring. The process of preparing a technical document involves four stages/phases [9,10,4,1]: evaluation and analysis, investigation, text production, and refinement. Evaluation and analysis pertain to initial planning activities, e.g. determining the best way to approach the writing task and assessing the purpose, goals, audience and constraints of the writing situation. Investigation relates to exploratory activities of writing such as gathering and organizing information. Text production is producing document text. Refinement involves editing the existing text and adding new text. As part of the refinement process, the author(s) may re-evaluate and re-analyze the writing situation and conduct additional research and data collection.

These aspects of writing can be automated in such as way as to reduce or eliminate the cognitive overhead required. The system needs to provide an appropriate view of documents in the sense that it enables the writer to perform tasks related to writing without requiring intensive cognitive activities. Determining what should be made visible when a change is made to a document, or how the system displays multiple comments related to a document are issues that will be addressed in development.

Michael Spring
Mon Dec 16 14:39:59 EST 1996