Abstract - The Information Society 11(2)

The role of "help networks" in facilitating use of CSCW tools

J D Eveland, Anita Blanchard, William Brown, Jennifer Mattocks

The pattern of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) system users to resolve problems and make more effective use of such tools has been observed in a variety of settings, but little is known about how help patterns develop or their effects. Results from a pre-post study of the implementation of CSCW tools among university faculty, staff, and administration indicate that the network of helping relationships is largely disaggregated and generally follows work group alignments rather than technical specialization. A relatively small group of "high providers" is responsible for most help users, and tends to act as a liaison between central support staff and work group members. These providers are not systematically different from other personnel except in terms of their expertise. Implications of these findings for the development and cultivation of help relationships in support of CSCW are developed.

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