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Colloquium - Palen

Designing for Organizational Utility of Groupware: A Case Study of Electronic Calendars
University of California, Irvine

Groupware calendar systems -- online, networked calendar software -- illuminate difficulties in designing collaborative support technologies for effective, successful use. In the case of groupware calendars, the mundane but important practices of calendaring and scheduling create a potential dilemma for users: individuals' calendars must simultaneously support personal work and social coordination. The technology must meet a wide range of personal calendar support needs, but also employees must individually and collectively resolve serious issues about privacy and interpersonal boundary regulation. Furthermore, the role and function of the technology within the broader context of the organization impacts decisions about groupware participation and the nature of the technology's use.

After a decade of slow adoption, groupware calendars are now being widely used and influencing behavior in some organizations. In an ethnographic investigation, I examine a high adoption case of groupware calendars at Sun Microsystems, where the openly-configured groupware calendar system allows an investigation into essential problems in collaborative systems design and operation. Calendar use at Sun has evolved beyond meeting scheduling, functioning instead as a distributed information system, supporting communication in unexpected ways. Contributions from the research include implications for groupware design, which address demands for individual support, group coordination, and opportunities for socio-technical adaptability.

Department of Computer Science
University of Colorado Boulder
Boulder, CO 80309-0430 USA
May 5, 2012 (14:13)