Conflicts and Resolutions in Computer Supported Collaborative Work Applications

Conflicts and Resolutions in Computer Supported Collaborative Work Applications

Mamdouh Babi (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cleveland State University, USA) and Wenbing Zhao (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cleveland State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5888-2.ch054
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Computer Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW) refers to collaborative work of multiple users using computers or a network to share the same application. Computers are networked together linking people to create “social network.” Computer supported social networks (CSSNS) sustain strong, inter-mediate and weak ties that provide information and social support in both specialized and broadly-based relation-ships. CSSNS connect users within and between one or multiple dispersed geographical location (Wellman, 1996). Many CSCW applications have been developed to support different infrastructures (Conklin, 1988). Some applications are used for sharing editing, others used for Computer Drafting and Design using 2D and 3D models. One of the important applications used is CSCW is Collaborative Editing. Collaborative Editing is a real time Computer Supported application that allows geographically dispersed multiple users to view, edit, or share documents at the same instance of time over the Internet. There are three facts we must know about CSCW applications:

  • Real time CSCW applications are applications not different from the ordinary applications with conventional functionality.

  • Real time CSCW applications are different from the typical applications you normally use because they are able to support multiple users to share the same application at the same time.

  • In CSCW applications, human users are part of the system; therefore conflict may have a negative impact on the system.

Many implementations have been developed taken into consideration the performance issues of Distributed Shared Memories systems (DSMs). Implementations developed to take into account the portability of programs and API, for example (Geva, M; Wiseman, Y, 2007). Such developments cannot help to resolve conflicts among users.

Conflict is a common phenomenon in CSCW and it may have both positive and negative impact on the system. Therefore, it is very important to come up with some types of conflict management systems that will help in reducing conflicts among users. Such systems will not only control the negative aspects of conflicts but also the positive aspects.

Generally, conflicts can be either system conflict or users’ conflicts or may be both. While systems conflicts are typically reflect the system operation, delay, and bandwidth, users’ conflicts are determined when users have different views and opinions on how to deal with shared document. Users may have different meaning and point of view even with the same concept and that is due to users relying on different resource of information.

Conflict can occur when users simultaneously change the content of the shared document (Agustina et al., 2012; Mills, 1996; Alemes et al., 1999). We can create some type of prevention to maintain consistency by prohibiting users from doing concurrent work, and therefore, preventing conflict.

In this Chapter, we will discuss the methods of Conflict Detection in CSCW applications. We will state our opinion leading us to our research in the area of conflict and resolutions in CSCW applications. Pessimistic Approaches, Optimistic Approaches, and Serialization as methods of conflicts resolutions as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each method will be discussed.



CSCW involves two or more users to work collaboratively on the same application. Typically, CSCW application allows multiple users to be part of a team without the concern of geographical restraints. Although, CSCW working environments have many great advantages such as, teams members working together asynchronously allowing members to participate with the luxury to contribute whenever they want, they are certainly facing many challenges. In this chapter, we will discuss the challenges related to multiple users’ conflicts in CSCW applications and focus on some of the resolution of such challenges.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Collaborative Work: The interaction among multiple users using the same applications to achieve specific task or results.

Multiple Granularities: A type of a lock that is set on objects that contains on other objects.

Locking: A mechanism for enforcing limits on access to a resource or to an environment.

Serialization: The process of converting data structure or object state into a format that can be stored, so it can be resurrected later in the same or different computer environment.

Dynamic Locking: A type of locking that is used to reduce the overhead cost, when performing locking.

Concurrency Control: The process of ensuring the correct results for concurrent operations.

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