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systems, namely help with tasks they don't know enough about to do on their own. Norman (1986) observed that the Pinball Construction Set makes it easy to design computerized pinball games but not good games; this takes knowledge about pinball design. More generally, Schoen (1983) discussed how skilled professionals can interpret the state of their work objects to make good decisions; they act and the situation "talks back." The problem is that less skilled people may not be able to understand what the situation is "saying." Fischer and Reeves (1992) studied interactions between customers and sales agent in a large hardware store. They identified crucial knowledge only the sales agents possessed, which they used to help customers. The knowledge included knowing that a tool existed, how to find a tool, the conditions under which a particular tool should be used, and how to combine tools for a specific situation.

People often work together on tasks. Thus, in addition to collaborating with users, another appropriate role for systems is to support human collaboration. The field of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) seeks to understand the nature of joint work and design technologies to support it. Important technologies include shared editors, group discussion support tools, and awareness systems.

Even when people do not work together explicitly, they still can benefit from the prior experience and opinions of others. Computational techniques for mining such information and turning it into a reusable asset raise the potential for a form of "virtual collaboration," with some of the benefits of collaboration without the costs of communication or personal involvement.

To summarize, there are three fundamental motivations for collaborative systems and a research approach built on each one:

Tasks require specialized skills and knowledge -> Intelligent collaborative agents

Work is inherently social -> Computer-supported cooperative work

People can reuse the experience of others -> Virtual collaboration

Next I discuss the prospects for collaboration in common tasks supported by the national information infrastructure (NII).

The Nii-What People Use It For, Where Collaboration Is Needed

The change from stand-alone to networked computers is transforming computers from desktop tools into windows on the world, from information containers and processors into communication devices. The

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