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authors Mase, K., Sumi, Y. and Nishimoto, K.
year 1998
title Informal conversation environment for collaborative concept formation
source Community Computing: Collaboration over Global Information Networks, eds. T. Ishida. John Wiley & Sons
summary This chapter focuses on facilitating the early stages of community formation. We spend a great deal of time every day in informal conversations, which are very important for the early stages of forming various kinds of communities. People engaged in conversation will not only share information, but also try to listen to and understand others, and as well as work together to find common objectives. In the early stages of forming the communities, agreement on a common concept through such a process is an essential element in the bonding of the group. Conversation environments on networked computers, e.g., via e-mail, online chat, and news groups, eliminate the spatial and temporal constraints of forming these communities but allow for the reuse of accumulated dialogs from previous interactions. Moreover, a computerized environment can directly support information sharing and mutual understanding. Conventional computerized conversation support systems, however, often force their users to follow some predetermined conversation model, prepared by designers beforehand. Thus, it can be difficult to apply these systems to informal conversations. We are developing a system called AIDE (Augmented Informative Discussion Environment) that facilitates our informal daily conversations. It does not require users to provide additional information in designated forms during a conversation, but rather it provides functionality to enhance and support the informal conversation. AIDE features three main functions: the discussion viewer, the conversationalist agent and the personal desktop. Using these functions, the participants can attain mutual understanding, crystallize ideas, and share common concepts. AIDE is considered to be not only a tool for supporting informal conversation but also useful Communityware, especially for facilitating the initial stage of community formation. This chapter first discusses a model of the group thinking process and applies it to community formation. Then, the structure of the AIDE system is presented using a few example conversations to illustrate how the AIDE system can support communication between people. AIDE displays potential as communityware.
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