Electronic collaboration (e-collaboration) is operationally defined here as collaboration using electronic technologies among different individuals to accomplish a common task (Kock & D’Arcy, 2002; Kock, Davidson, Ocker, & Wazlawick, 2001). This is a broad definition that encompasses not only computer-mediated collaborative work but also collaborative work that is supported by other types of technologies that do not fit most people’s definition of a “computer.” One example of such technologies is the telephone, which is not, strictly speaking, a computer—even though some of today’s telephone devices probably have more processing power than some of the first computers back in the 1940s. Another example of technology that may enable e-collaboration is the teleconferencing suite, whose main components are cameras, televisions, and telecommunications devices.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Mental Schemas: Mental structures possessed by the individuals involved in the collaboration task, including socially constructed mental structures that may induce the individuals to interpret information in a particular way.
CSCW: Computer-supported cooperative work.
CMC: Computer-mediated communication.
ARPANET: The precursor of today’s Internet; developed in the late 1960s through a projected sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.
E-Collaboration Technology: Comprises not only the communication medium created by an e-collaboration technology but also the technology’s features that have been designed to support collaborative work.
Telegraph: Invention by Samuel F. B. Morse that allowed individuals to accomplish collaborative tasks interacting primarily electronically.
E-Collaboration: Collaboration using electronic technologies among different individuals to accomplish a common task.
Collaborative Task: Task that is often conducted by a group of people with support of e-collaboration technologies.