COLLABORATION is one of the major requirements intoday’s life and business. We can find collaborative activitiesat different levels and with different extents. The range ofinvolved fields is very wide, from classrooms to enterprises, andall demand for appropriate support. In particular, informationtechnology can provide such support, but it is not a trivialtask. On one hand, collaborative systems may be complex,distributed, open, and dynamic applications; on the other hand,the human factor plays a very important role with respect toother application fields.Collaboration is, for its own nature, distributed. Collaborationsupport systems must accomplish such distribution byexploiting appropriate technologies and must meet users’ requirementswhile also evolving or adapting to the users’ needs.Collaboration between different organizations can be achievedby the openness of the systems, a feature that could lead toglobal collaboration.Technological advance in collaborative systems is limited.Human perception and feeling are perhaps more important forthese systems to gain wide acceptance. Users are asked tocollaborate in (possible slightly) different ways from usual collaborations,and social aspects must also be taken into accountwhen designing collaborative systems. This is the reason whycareful tests must be carried out to evaluate a system.This picture points out that collaboration support systemsmust be carefully developed.The motivation for organizing this special issue arose fromour experience in different workshops [mainly IEEEWorkshopson Enabling Technologies: Infrastructure for CollaborativeEnterprises and Role-based Collaboration sessions at IEEEConferences on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics (SMC)]. Inthose occasions, several systems were proposed, and we feltthat it was time to make the point of the situation in the field.Even if this special issue does not aim at saying the last wordin the collaboration field, we hope that this papers’ contentswill be of interest to readers and stimulate not only softwareengineering researchers but also interdisciplinary practitioners.All submitted papers were good and interesting. A normalreview process was followed, and all the papers chosen forpublication in this special issue meet the very high standardof the IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SYSTEMS, MAN, ANDCYBERNETICS, PART A (TSMC-A).Two papers are about collaboration in learning. CollaborativeOnline Examinations: Impacts on Interaction, Learning,and Student Satisfaction focuses on examinations supportedDigital Object Identifier 10.1109/TSMCA.2006.883182by collaboration support systems, while Supporting VicariousLearning With Collaborative Lessons Learned Programsproposes a support system to observe decision processes andmanage lesson learned in order to improve collaboration. Bothpapers start from a collaboration model and propose an implementedsystem to support specific kinds of collaboration.Consistency is the main issue of the paper From PredefinedConsistency to User-Centered Emergent Consistency in Real-Time Collaborative Editing Systems; the authors present acollaboration model suitable for real-time systems and proposea new model of dynamic consistency based on the users’ needs.The Web is perhaps one of the most interesting environmentsfor collaboration. CoLab: A New Paradigm and Tool forBrowsing Collaboratively the Web proposes a new browsingparadigm, where different users can browse together the sameWeb information; the paper presents CoLab, a system thatimplements the aforementioned cobrowsing paradigm.The paper Discovering and Managing Access to PrivateServices in Collaborative Sessions proposes an approach todiscover and manage services in a safe and controlled wayduring collaboration. The concept of session is exploited notonly for collaboration but also for service discovering purposes.Collaboration in mobile computing scenarios presents severalissues, which are addressed by the paper Supporting CooperativeSoftware Processes in a Decentralized and NomadicWorld. By means of a case study, the authors propose a generalapproach for mobile collaboration based on a peer-to-peermodel.In Supporting Software Development With Roles, the authorspropose an approach to collaborative software developmentbased on the concept of role, which is exploited in the implementedtool to support software development.We would like to thank Professor D. Brown, the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE TSMC-A and the editorial board membersfor the chance to organize this special issue; T. Scheman-Moje,editorial assistant, for her precious support; and all the refereesfor reviewing the papers and providing constructive comments.Finally, we would like to congratulate all the authors for theirhard work to generate the high-quality papers and meet thedeadlines that are often at short notice.
Special Issue on Collaboration Support Systems / Cabri, Giacomo; Zhu, Hb; Yang, Jb. - In: IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON SYSTEMS MAN AND CYBERNETICS PART A-SYSTEMS AND HUMANS. - ISSN 1083-4427. - STAMPA. - 36:6(2006), pp. 1042-1044. [10.1109/TSMCA.2006.883182]