"The networked computer classroom has always held out the promise of improved collaboration and peer review of documents. The foundational work in this area was based on social constructionist theory ( e.g., Barker & Kemp 1990; Cooper & Selfe 1990; Hawisher & Selfe 1991): scholars saw networked writing as a concrete application of social constructionism, which emphasized collaborative writing, and consequently produced collaborative tools (such as the Daedalus Interactive Writing Environment and the enCore MOO). More recently, content management systems and wikis have joined the list of ways to collaborate. All allow participants to review, co-edit, and comment on a single text in a single space.
However, these technologies have tended to fill relatively narrow niches, due in part to the learning curve for using them (most people don't want to learn special markup) and the need for specialized hardware and software to run them (most people don't have dedicated servers to run a CMS). Not surprisingly, most documents -- in university settings and in business collaborations -- are still created in Microsoft Word or another word processor, and emailed from collaborator to collaborator (a practice known as "ping-ponging"). This solution is a variation of the timeworn solution of handing drafts from person to person. And it has the same drawback: it's impossible for multiple people to work simultaneously on the same draft without versioning problems. Nevertheless, people limp along with this solution because it has a shallow learning curve and leverages existing services.
In August 2006, Google launched Google Apps for Your Domain, a suite of tools that includes email, calendar, and website design software (Google Mail, Calendar, and Page Creator), and is aggressively marketing the suite to the education market and small businesses. In essence, these organizations can outsource a chunk of their information technology to Google, and Google brands these services for each organization. This service is particularly valuable to the education and small business markets since these relatively small organizations frequently devote considerable IT resources to electronic collaboration and publication, and they have trouble holding on to people with deep IT expertise.
Eventually the product relaunched as Google Docs, integrated with Google's spreadsheet offering
Google Docs Features The headline news about Google Docs is that the application supports easy parallel collaboration. Once you've logged in, you see a list of the most recent documents (word processor files and spreadsheets) and the collaborators who have been working on them. You can choose to share your own documents with collaborators at a variety of permissions levels -- and they can similarly choose to share theirs with you. "
(Clay Spinuzzi, University of Texas at Austin)
Barker, T. and Kemp, F. (1990). Network theory: A postmodern pedagogy for the writing classroom. In Handa, C., editor, Computers and Community: Teaching Composition in the Twenty-First Century, pages 1-27. Boynton/Cook Publishers, New York.
Cooper, M. and Selfe, C. L. (1990). Computer conferences and learning: Authority, resistance, and internally persuasive discourse. College English, 52:847-869.
Hawisher, G. E. and Selfe, C. L. (1991). The rhetoric of technology and the electronic writing class. College Composition and Communication, 42:55-65.
The online spaces where virtual community members interact are referred to by a wide variety of labels including chat rooms (Read 1991), cyber-inns (Coate 1992), virtual settlements (Jones 1997), commons (Kollock and Smith 1994), and conferences (Hiltz and Turoff 1981). Some systems are completely open to the public, such as LambdaMoo (Schiano and White 1998), others are restricted to a membership (Schlager and Schank 1997), or a specific task or purpose (Erickson 1999). The diversity of online community space designs and labels highlights how system features provide a context for community interactions.
Coate, J., 1992. Innkeeping in Cyberspace, In: Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing (DIAC-92), Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility, Palo Alto, CA. http://gopher.well.sf.ca.us:70/0/Community/innkeeping
Erickson, T., et al. Socially Translucent Systems: Social Proxies, Persistent Conversation, and the Design of Babble. in Human Factors in Computing: The Proceedings of CHI 99. 1999. Pittsburgh, PA: ACM Press
Hiltz, S.R. and M. Turoff, 1981. The evolution of user behaviour in a computerized conferencing system, Communications of the ACM, 24 (11 November): 739-751
Jones Q. 1997. Virtual-communities, virtual-settlements & cyber-archaeology: A theoretical outline. J of Comp Mediated Communication 3(3)
Kollock, P. and M. Smith, 1994. Managing the virtual commons: Cooperation and conflict in computer communities. In: Computer-Mediated Communication, (Ed. S. Herring), John Benjamins, Amsterdam
Reid, E. M., 1991. Electropolis: Communications and community on Internet Relay Chat, Honours, History, University of Melbourne. http://www.ee.mu.oz.au/papers/emr/work.html
Schiano, D.J. and S. White. The first noble truth of CyberSpace: People are People (even when they MOO). in CHI 98. 1998. Los Angeles CA: ACM
Schlager, M. and P. Schank. TAPPED IN: A New On-line Teacher Community Concept for the Next Generation of Internet Technology. in CSCL '97, The Second International Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning. 1997. Toronto: ACM
"MUD /muhd/ /n./ [acronym, Multi-User Dungeon; alt. Multi-User Dimension] 1. A class of virtual reality experiments accessible via the Internet. These are real-time chat forums with structure; they have multiple 'locations' like an adventure game, and may include combat, traps, puzzles, magic, a simple economic system, and the capability for characters to build more structure onto the database that represents the existing world. 2. /vi./ To play a MUD. The acronym MUD is often lowercased and/or verbed; thus, one may speak of `going mudding', etc."