Coining and Defining It

Peter+Trudy Johnson-Lenz

October 4, 1978

response to an inquiry from the Oxford English Dictionary, April 1994

1994 Awakening Technology

We first coined the term "groupware" in our research notes on October 4, 1978 during our work with Murray Turoff and S. Roxanne Hiltz on the Electronic Information Exchange System (EIES) at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. We wrote about it in an informal paper, "On CC and Citizen Participation," dated February 2, 1979, that we made available on EIES ("CC" = computer conferencing).

In July 1979 we submitted a 2 1/2 page abstract for a panel presentation at the 1980 World Future Society's First Global Conference on the Future: "Through the '80s, Thinking Globally, Acting Locally." The interim title of the abstract was "Groupware: Group/Computer Processes for Collective Problem-Solving, Decision-Making, and Knowledge Building." The actual title of our 1980 presentation was "Groupware: The Emerging Art of Orchestrating Collective Intelligence," World Future Society's First Global Conference on the Future, Toronto, Canada, July 1980. It was part of a panel called "Computer Support for 'Collective Wisdom,'" moderated by S. Roxanne Hiltz.

Our original definition, "intentional group processes plus software to support them," first appeared in print in our 1981 paper, "Consider the Groupware: Design and Group Process Impacts on Communication in the Electronic Medium," in Hiltz, S. and Kerr, E., Studies of Computer-Mediated Communications Systems: A Synthesis of the Findings, Research Report #16, Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey, 1981. The paper was written in 1980.

A condensed version of our 1981 paper was published as "Groupware: The Process and Impacts of Design Choices," in Kerr, E. and Hiltz, S., Computer-Mediated Communication Systems, Academic Press, New York, 1982.

We developed our theory of groupware in more detail in The Evolution of a Tailored Communications Structure: The Topics System, Research Report #14, Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey, January 1981.

Other references of interest:

And, of course, we have written and spoken about it a great deal since. Our last refereed academic journal article was "Post-mechanistic groupware primitives: rhythms, boundaries and containers," Peter Johnson-Lenz and Trudy Johnson-Lenz, International Journal of Man-Machine Studies (1991) 34, 395-417. This was reprinted in Computer-supported Cooperative Work and Groupware, ed. by Saul Greenburg, Academic Press, London, 1991. A longer version was published as an Awakening Technology research report, "Rhythms, Boundaries, and Containers: Creative Dynamics of Asynchronous Group Life," 1990.

You might also enjoy our chapter, "Groupware for a Small Planet," in Groupware in the 21st Century: Computer Supported Cooperative Working Toward the Millennium, ed. by Peter Lloyd, Adamantine Press, London, 1994 (reprinted in the US by Praeger).

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