defining what we mean by "collaboration"

From: Eugene Eric Kim (
Date: Mon Feb 12 2001 - 16:01:46 PST

I think that one of our biggest impediments to our collective progress --
and what I think Jack has been arguing all along -- is that we have not
developed an ontology for the OHS.

An article in today's USA Today on Ray Ozzie's Groove is a good example of
how this has hurt us:

Groove is clearly a collaboration tool. The article notes:

    At GlaxoSmithKline, Calhoun finds Groove enticing. He points out how
    it can be used by teams working to discover drugs. Those teams usually
    consist of some scientists inside the company and some at other
    companies or universities. They need to share sensitive information
    and work together. Yet the members change at different stages of the
    process over many years. "Groove seems to uniquely lend itself to this
    type of problem," Calhoun says.

Strangely enough, I don't think anyone in the group would complain if we
replaced "Groove" in the paragraph above with "OHS." I also don't think
anyone would claim that the OHS competes with Groove. I think that the
OHS and Groove are different, but complementary tools.

The problem is that we haven't defined what we mean when we say we're
designing a tool for "collaboration." The term means different things to
different people. The Web, for example, is a legitimate collaboration
tool. So is e-mail. But they are clearly different beasts. And, if
you walk up to a group of engineers and tell them to build a collaboration
tool, some people might go and build the Web, and others might go and
build an e-mail system or USENET.

Because "collaboration" implied different things for all of us, we
became afflicted with picture-mismatch. We need to overcome this problem,
not only so that we can build the system, but so that others can
understand it as well. It would be an interesting exercise to hear
people's descriptions of what their picture of the OHS is. Perhaps by
observing and critiquing each other's pictures, we can come to consensus
as to what we're trying to do.


+=== Eugene Eric Kim ===== ===== ===+
|       "Writer's block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they        |
+=====  can have an excuse to drink alcohol."  --Steve Martin  ===========+

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