Groupware is readily available. Yet people on wide area networks--such as
the Internet--have considerable trouble contacting each other and setting
up groupware connections. To resolve this problem, this paper identifies
human factors critical to getting a group communicating through groupware.
It identifies how people find suitable partners, and how people choose
appropriate communication mediums. These factors form a design foundation
for systems that promote social presence and that integrate communication.
Existing systems are shown to be inadequate for general use over a wide
area net, for they either do not meet some basic design criteria, or they
require a very high technological entry level that is beyond the reach
of most computer users. As an alternative, the paper presents TELEFREEK,
a flexible, extensible, and customizable platform that supports people
contacting each other, and that integrates access to common communication
facilities. A major advantage of TELEFREEK is that it draws on resources
freely available to the Internet community.
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