Wednesday, April 27, 2005

"Challenges in Virtual Collaboration"

In a recent book, of the same name, Lynne Wainfan and Paul K. Davis of the Rand Research Institute state (page 25):

"Alhtough some studies show contradictory findings in a number of areas, they are generally consistent in concluding that, relative to FTF (face-to-face) groups, computer-mediated communication groups CMC (i.e email, chat, threaded discussions, forums, or bulletin boards)

1. have difficult in reaching consensus
2. have greater equality of participation
3. show differences in influence, particularly relating to status
4. exhibit lower inhibition
5. are more likely to be polarized"

"Why would people be less inhibited "(Page 29) - "the psychological distance imposed by these type of communications can allow a great expression of emotions, especially negative emotions." "At a computer, where social cues are absent, people may forget that they are talking to another person, not a computer screen". "The medium's relative anonymity may produce comparatively self-centere and unregulated behaviour."

page 31 - "CMCgroups present higher levels of negative conflict (prolonging and escalating conflict, inflexibility, hostility, etc.) and lower levels of positive conflict (releasing tension, clarifying and re-evaluating goals, and creating new ideas, and so forth) than their Face-to-Face counterparts do."

here is a good article on email rules:

32 most important email etiquette tips:

1. Be concise and to the point
2. Answer all questions, and pre-empt further questions
3. Use proper spelling, grammar & punctuation
4. Make it personal
5. Use templates for frequently used responses
6. Answer swiftly
7. Do not attach unnecessary files
8. Use proper structure & layout
9. Do not overuse the high priority option
10. Do not write in CAPITALS
11. Don't leave out the message thread
12. Add disclaimers to your emails
13. Read the email before you send it
14. Do not overuse Reply to All
15. Mailings > use the bcc: field or do a mail merge
16. Take care with abbreviations and emoticons
17. Be careful with formatting
18. Take care with rich text and HTML messages
19. Do not forward chain letters
20. Do not request delivery and read receipts
21. Do not ask to recall a message.
22. Do not copy a message or attachment without permission
23. Do not use email to discuss confidential information
24. Use a meaningful subject
25. Use active instead of passive
26. Avoid using URGENT and IMPORTANT
27. Avoid long sentences
28. Don't send or forward emails containing libelous, defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks
29. Don't forward virus hoaxes and chain letters
30. Keep your language gender neutral
31. Don't reply to spam
32. Use cc: field sparingly

Hope this helps.

Remember save an email as a "draft" if you are in a hurry, or upset, then think about it for a few hours before sending it. Once the bell has been rung, it sure is hard to "unring it". Good Luck. Prof. J.