The Parting of the Ways: Divergence, Data Management and Collaborative Work
Systems coordinating distributed collaborative work must manage user data distributed over a network. The
strong consistency algorithms which designers have typically borrowed from the distributed systems
community are often unsuited to the particular needs of CSCW. Here, I outline an alternative approach based
on divergence and synchronisation between parallel streams of activity. From a CSCW perspective, this
strategy offers three primary advantages. First, it is scaleable, allowing smooth transitions from highly
interactive collaboration to more extended, "asynchronous" styles of work. Second, it supports
"multi-synchronous" work, in which parties work independently in parallel. Third, it directly supports observed
patterns of opportunistic activities in collaborative working.
Proc. ECSCW '95 European Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, 10-14 September 1995, Stockholm, Sweden.