What kinds of information do computer software collaborators need to share and work effectively? John M. Carroll, PhD, the Edward Frymoyer Chair Professor of Information Sciences and Technology at Pennsylvania State University, recently posed that question to launch a forum at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).
Carroll was a guest speaker in NJIT’s year-long series of lectures about information systems technology. He used the podium to explore with interested students, professors and others the problems and possibilities for distributed work groups and remote collaboration, and for designing effective technologies and environments.
NJIT’s Information Systems Department hosted the presentation which included examples from recent emergency management problems caused by Hurricane Katrina.
For understanding joint endeavors, Carroll described a framework based upon four facets of activity awareness: common ground, communities of practice, social capital, and human development. He illustrated with scenarios the kinds of information systems tools needed by emergency management workers as they rescued families stranded by flood waters. Carroll also discussed the implications and future directions for system design and empirical methods.
Carroll explained that collaborators need to give more data to people who create software tools and resources plus better explain their expectations, goals and criteria. “If everyone did this,” said Carroll, “We’d have a better mechanism to evaluate joint outcomes.”
A grant from the UPS Foundation provided funding. The lecture is one of a series about information systems for emergency management hosted by NJIT this year. The series culminates May 14-17, 2006, when NJIT hosts on campus the Third International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management. For more information about the conference, contact Murray Turoff (Turoff@NJIT.edu) in the information systems department at NJIT.