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Authors: Greenberg, Saul
Coulouris, George
Thimbleby, Harold W.
Witten, Ian H.
Keywords: Computer Science
Issue Date: 1-Jun-1990
Abstract: While most schemes that support information sharing on computers rely on formal protocols, in practice much cooperative work takes place using informal means of communication, even chance encounters. This paper proposes a new method of enabling information sharing in loosely-coupled socially-organized systems, typically involving personal rather than institutional computers and lacking the network infrastructure that is generally taken for granted in distributed computing. It is based on the idea of arranging for information transmission to take place as an unobtrusive side-effect of interpersonal communication. Update conflicts are avoided by an information ownership scheme. Under mild assumptions, we show how the distributed database satisfies the property of observational consistency. The new idea, called "Liveware", is not so much a specific piece of technology as a fresh perspective on information sharing that stimulates new ways of solving old problems. Being general, it transcends particular distribution technologies. A prototype database, implemented in HyperCard and taking the form of an electronic directory, utilizes the medium of floppy disk to spread information in a (benign!) virus-like manner.
Appears in Collections:Greenberg, Saul
Witten, Ian

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