Re: defining what we mean by "collaboration"

From: John J. Deneen (
Date: Mon Feb 12 2001 - 20:39:46 PST

This is a great reflective point! I think we all could learn from the wisdom
of the late chief technologist at PARC, Mark Weiser, by reviewing what the most
important thing he learned as an entrepreneur:

   * Problems with reaching agreement due to reality distortion (i.e., seeming
     to agree but not really understanding) and "Software Engineering for

Eugene Eric Kim wrote:

> 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
> --
> +=== 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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