Examples of topics for individual assignments

The topics below are inspired by Sproull and Kiesler's "Connections".

1. Lessons for CSCW from the early use of telephones

Read a book or a selection of articles about the introduction and early use of telephones. Use Sproull & Kiesler's discussion of technology effects in Ch. 1 and 2 as a starting point for a discussion of how we can learn from the use of technology when designing and introducing modern collaboration tools.

2. The history of electronic mail

Try to trace the history of e-mail from early documents, and compare with how e-mail is used today. Discuss how the conditions for the use of e-mail and related technologies, and thereby the potential effects on both levels mentioned by Sproull & Kiesler, have changed through the years.

3. Case study of electronic mail and efficiency

Interview a small group of people from the same organisation. Try to assess the extent to which electronic media have increased the efficiency of communication. Use S&K:s discussion in Ch. 1-3 as a point of departure for discussing "first-level" and "second-level" effects.

4. Flaming - a controversial topic in CMC research

The existence and background of "flaming", i.e. aggressive behaviour in electronic communication for no obvious reason, is a much-debated area in CMC. Read some recent articles on the subject and compare to Sproull & Kiesler's account, especially with respect to the definition and generality of flaming.

5. Norms and etiquette for network behaviour

There are many versions of norms and "network etiquette" for CMC in the Internet literature. Read some articles on the topic and relate the research to your own experience.

6. Mobility and communication

Interview a small group of people who use mobile computers and telephones for communication and collaboration. Try to establish how they manage to coordinate their work across distances. Relate to literature about CMC and distributed work.

7. Information overflow

Read recent articles about information overflow and CMC. Use S&K:s discussion in Ch. 7 as a starting point. Interview a heavy user and draw conclusions on the suitability of intelligent tools for filtering and organisation of email.