Since 1974 we have worked as a team on a wide range of projects exploring how computer-mediated communications can help us create a healthy future for generations to come. Our work includes hands-on collaborative explorations into the frontier of cyberspace, groupware design, virtual architecture, on-line community facilitation, and thinking and learning partnerships with organizational clients. Our pioneering work has always bridged the human and tools sides of the groupware equation.
We were first introducted to computer conferencing in 1977 on the Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES), designed by Murray Turoff at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Named "P+T" on EIES, we created a number of special applications there, including an information sharing system for state legislative researchers, a hypertext tour of alternative futures (with Robert Theobald) for the USDA, and the world's first electronic chapel. We also served as co-principal investigators on an project funded by the National Science Foundation facilitating and evaluating the use of computer conferencing for setting standards in the microcomputer industry.
This visionary and uniquely programmable system for structuring group communication enabled a variety of experiments with corporate, community, academic, and government networks. These taught us the wisdom of tailoring cyberspace to support what a group wants to do instead of forcing people to fit our designs. To encapsulate this key idea of "intentional group processes plus software to support them," we coined the term "groupware" in 1978. Although widely used now, its meaning has devolved to just software for collaboration. In the last few years, after costly trials and errors, leading organizations are finally realizing technology alone is not enough.
We founded Awakening Technology in 1986. We developed our own tailorable computer conferencing system, used it for a series of pioneering on-line self-development seminars, and published a living systems theory of groupware as a dynamic process of creating virtual forms to support group life.
In 1996 we convened a five-month on-line Community of Inquiry and Practice, a cost-shared action research project involving Fortune 500 companies, consulting firms, and research institutes, exploring the use of conversational practices and supporting groupware to generate knowledge in cyberspace.
Our current research, supported in part by the Fetzer Institute, is a collaborative inquiry into Practicing Our Wisdom Together In Cyberspace.
We are Research Affiliates at the Institute for the Future and Fellows of the World Business Academy and the Center for Global Communications, International University of Japan.
Please see Selected Work Highlights and Publications and Presentations for more detail about our history and background.