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Groupware is a technology designed to facilitate the work of groups This technology may be used to communicate cooperate coordinate solve problems compete or negotiate While traditional technologies like the telephone qualify as groupware the term is ordinarily used to refer to a specific class of technologies relying on modern computer networks such as email newsgroups videophones or chat Groupware technologies are typically categorized along two primary dimensions 1 Whether users of the groupware are working together at the same time real-time or synchronous groupware or different times asynchronous groupware 2 Whether users are working together in the same place collocated or face-to-face or in different places non-collocated or distance Groupware design involves understanding groups and how people behave in groups It also involves having a good understanding of networking technology and how aspects of that technology affect a users experience All the issues related to traditional user interface design remains relevant since the technology still involves people Many aspects of groups require special consideration For instance not only do million-person groups behave differently from 5-person groups but also the performance parameters of the technologies to support different groups vary Ease-of-use must be better for groupware than for single-user systems because the pace of a conversation often drives the pace of use of an application System responsiveness and reliability become more significant issues Designers must have an understanding of the degree of homogeneity of users of the possible roles people play in cooperative work and of who key decision-makers are and what influences them There are several types of groupware applications and their associated design options Comparing those design options across applications yields interesting new perspectives on well-known applications Also in many cases these systems can be used together and in fact are intended to be used in conjunction For example group calendars are used to schedule videoconferencing meetings multi-player games use live video and chat to communicate and newsgroup
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