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Designing for Change: Reflective Metalevel Architectures for Deep Customisation in CSCW

Paul Dourish
The past few years have seen a steadily increasing understanding of the need for customisation and tailorability in a range of computational systems. This has resulted both from a greater understanding of the role of individual and organisational work practices in human-computer interaction, and from the application of systems to more complex domains of activity. The increasing requirement that systems provide flexible and customisable behaviour, and that this customisation reach deeper into the system, forces a reconsideration of the techniques by which customisable systems are constructed. This paper discusses an architectural approach which provides a means for building systems supporting deep customisation. The approach is based on providing an explicit reflective metalevel, allowing the design of computational systems with flexible and dynamic behaviours. This design approach has been used primarily in the area of programming language design; here it is considered in application to interactive systems more generally. In particular, an investigation of the use of this approach in designing flexible CSCW systems is described, and wider implications of this approach for the notion of deep customisation are examined.
Xerox Techncial Report


EPC-1993-102.pdf (67.23 kB) (146.67 kB)