Changing places: the challenges of boundaries and scalability in the workplace

Changing Places workshop logo“Changing Places” was a workshop at Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London in 1999.

Our focus was exploring some of the challenges and successes of online collaboration tools in the workplace – at that time, best known under the acronym CSCW (Computer Supported Co-operative Work).

Most CSCW investigations were about how to get small groups to co-ordinate and share their work, responding to the easier access provided by the Internet.

I particularly remember the paper by Paula Bourges-Waldegg, from Mexico. She pointed out that all of us at the workshop, drawn from several countries across the world, probably had more in common with each other and more understanding of each other’s needs – as academics and practitioners working in Human-Computer Interaction and CSCW – than we would have of (say) a random person riding on one of the London buses that passed nearby.

At the time, I was reflecting on my experience of working on Self Assessment, the biggest change to the UK tax system since the introduction of PAYE some 50 years earlier. That project had hundreds of people on it, spread across several locations and organisations – a very different sort of scale to typical CSCW projects. I talked about:

• The need for information management and control
• Setting the boundaries of the workspace.
• The extension of systems to large numbers.

Read my paper: Changing places – the challenges of boundaries and scalability in the workplace

These notes are based on my recollection of the workshop, written in 2015. The proceedings disappeared in a reorganisation of the Queen Mary and Westfield College website, probably at the time that they changed their name to Queen Mary University of London. Luckily, the Web Archive captured them: Programme of the Changing Spaces workshop.