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Social Activity Indicators for Groupware
June 1996 (vol. 29 no. 6)
pp. 37-42

A well-known problem with the adoption of groupware systems is that people do not think it's worth participating in them unless a sizable group of people are already doing so. Thus, the lack of a critical mass of users is often a barrier to starting these systems. People will also stop using a groupware-or computer-supported cooperative work system if participation falls below a certain level. This threshold effect can be quite sudden, and it can kill a group- communication system. At the other extreme, people are attracted to systems having considerable activity-the activity itself excites and motivates people. In short, people pay more attention when they know other people are paying attention. We have repeatedly encountered these situations in our own work. Our experiences led us to consider what user-interface mechanisms could provide a motivating sense of social activity. We developed social activity indicators to show how much and what kind of activity is going on in groupware systems. This article describes three types of indicators we have built. As distributed applications, such as concurrent engineering or business-process systems, become even more prevalent, it will be important to consider the interface requirements for making these systems socially usable and useful.

Citation:
Mark S. Ackerman, Brian Starr, "Social Activity Indicators for Groupware," Computer, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 37-42, June 1996, doi:10.1109/2.507630
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