Dec 22

Virtual Teams

I’ve been interested in the way team members collaborate in virtual environments and had the opportunity to read a few foundation articles in the seminar I took this past semester.[1] So I was rather happy when I noticed that this subject seems to be the topic that Chad Thornton is working on for his thesis. He recently pointed to the work of John Tang at Sun who’s working on distributed work groups. More specifically he looks at technologies to support collaboration. In one of his recent papers he discusses IM as a way to “create a shared sense of time among remote colleagues.”[2]

Of course, meanwhile in the real world I’m dealing with more mundane issues like the fact that Lotus Notes’s idea of an IM app seems to be incapable of simply generating logs of my chats so I can later access any of the info previously imparted to me. Nice. Assuming I’m right (and I hope I’m not) does this mean that the assumption of its developers is that important information is only shared asynchronously and knowledge shared via IM is disposable? Is IM only useful for trivial exchanges and signaling presence? (Obviously I think otherwise and am still hopeful that this feature is just well hidden in this app’s UI.)

1. Sarbaugh-Thompson, Marjorie & Feldman, Martha (1998). Electronic Mail and Organizational Communication: Does Saying “Hi” Really Matter? Organization Science, 9 (6), 685-698.

Hollan, J., and Stornetta, S.: Beyond being there. Proceedings of the ACM CHI’92 Conference on Computer-Human Interaction (Monterey, CA, 3-7 May 1992), pp. 119-125.

2. James “Bo” Begole, John Tang, Randall Smith and Nicole Yankelovich, Work Rhythms: Analyzing Visualizations of Awareness Histories of Distributed Groups. Proceedings of the 2002 ACM conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work(CSCW 2002), New Orleans, LA, USA, Nov 16-20, 2002, ACM Press, NY, pp. 334-343.

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