Artifacts as Instant Messenger Buddies

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Artifact awareness is one person’s up to the moment knowledge of the artifacts that other group members are working with. Such awareness contributes to the overall information necessary for fluid group coordination and interaction. Yet current systems treat artifact awareness quite differently from the interpersonal awareness of group members using the artifact. Our approach differs. We exploit commercial Instant Messengers (IMs) for artifact awareness, where we treat an artifact – such as a document – as a 1st class buddy. As a person uses the artifact, changes are triggered in the artifact’s online, idle and offline state. Further information about artifact events is published to the IM’s ‘display name’ or ‘personal message’ field. Important artifact activities – such as major version updates – are delivered as chat messages. Others can engage in a chat ‘dialog’ with the artifact that includes directives to receive and transmit artifact versions. The group’s conversation around that artifact is also recorded as part of the chat history.