Cláudio Sapateiro, Bruno Vilhena
Superior School of Technology, Polytechnic Insitute of Setúbal, Estefanilha, Setúbal, Portugal
Pedro Moura
SysVision, Edificio Open - Av. das Forças Armadas, n.º 125 - 4º D, Lisboa, Portugal
Keywords: Tagging, Documents Management, Collaboration.
Abstract: During work processes many collaboration structures rely on documents sharing to feed information needs.
To this share be effective involved parties have also to share some common understanding of the meanings
of the information that is being exchanged. Personal and communities information and knowledge structures
are highly implicit and tends to be invisible to others. In this work we propose a classification of the user’s
personal electronic assets inspired in the evolving web 2.0 applications concepts: tagging and social
bookmarking. By adopting this approach we may profile users/communities knowledge domains and by
externalizing this information improve collaboration structures.
Both internal and external organizational
information flows are supported by a number of
documents exchanged in order to keep business
processes running. Supply chains, business to
business marketplaces, auctions, are all examples of
business practices or applications that use
information exchanges to combine or interconnect
products or services from multiple businesses. Every
one of them relies on the exchange of documents
that describe the products or services being offered,
their buyers and sellers, their origins and
destinations, the amount and proof of payment, and
so on (Glushko and McGrath 2004). Documents in
their various forms become the vehicles that evoke
desired behavior, communicate vital knowledge and
stimulate appropriate decisions and guide action.
With technological advance the digitalized
information had increased and people had to deal
with a number of different electronic documents,
often with multiple versions and from multiple
sources. Ideally enterprise data models or enterprise
information architecture will solve organization
information needs. But too often people don’t do
adhere as completely or as conscientiously as they
should, either by failing to recognize the seriousness
of the problem or because the needed overhead to
their work and the lack of support in emergent
processes (Markus, Majchrzak et al. 2002) or
exceptions in existing ones (Mourão and Antunes
2007). As a result, when existing organizations
information systems doesn’t offer the needed
support to get work done, people embrace in
informal relations and make use of their tacit
knowledge to accomplish their work. When such
unstructured activities occur there can be substantial
differences in the meaning and format of
information. Of course, for an effective
collaboration in information exchange, it is essential
for involved parties, that the document supporting
this exchange has agreed purpose and associated
meaning. It is quite usual find research works
proposals to address information silos in
organizations (Sapateiro, Gamboa et al. 2004;
Novak 2007). The notion of communities as
informal social networks based on shared interests or
practices has been used as an important unit of
analysis of cooperative creation and sharing of
knowledge (Brown and Duguid 1991; Dougherty
1992). Also HCI work on sense making emphasizes
special needs for supporting knowledge construction
during information seeking in unfamiliar,
heterogeneous domains and ill-structured work
Sapateiro C., Vilhena B. and Moura P. (2008).
In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - HCI, pages 210-214
DOI: 10.5220/0001693502100214
processes (Qu and Furnas 2005; Russel et al. 1993).
In this work we present an alternative approach
based on the tag concept, for the usual file manager
systems which traditionally are based in folders. The
next section will present some related work that
address the main concerns that motivate our work.
Section 3 will present our proposed approach. In
section 4 the developed prototype is presented and
we end in section 5 with a discussion of the work
done and pointing some future directions.
In (Glushko and McGrath 2004) is referred
Document Engineering as an evolving new
discipline for specifying, designing, and
implementing the models of documents that support
information exchange mechanisms to request or
return the results of business processes. The essence
of Document Engineering is the analysis and design
methods that yield precise models that describe the
information these processes require and the rules by
which related processes are coordinated and
combined. Document engineering emphasizes the
use of existing successful best practices in
organization information exchange procedures,
reducing costs and risks while increasing reliability
and interoperability. Nevertheless, this approach
focuses in analyzing and improving or proposes
models to drive the identified information exchange
needs. In our perspective this approach will lack the
flexibility in situations that models lack to support
real life situations information needs and actors will
conduct their information exchange in an
unstructured/unplanned/un-previewed way (the
discussion of a model guidance versus map guidance
in supporting business processes spectrum had feed
several research works e.g. (Schmidt 1997;
Bernstein 2000), but is off the scope of this paper).
In such scenario, to collectively construct and share
information, groups of people have to establish a
shared cognitive and social context against which
they can construct shared meanings of information
(Gasson 2004) . The main processes for sharing tacit
knowledge include socialization and internalization
(Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995). These processes may
face practical difficulties due the absence of explicit
representations of community information and
knowledge structures. User’s and/or group’s
knowledge structures are highly implicit and
invisible to others.
Due the above considerations, our approach
focus, concern in more than sharing documents we
attend to share some associated semantic to expose
their meanings. From (Boland and Tenkasi 1995) the
basic requirements for supporting cross community
knowledge exchanges have been described in the
model of “perspective making – perspective taking”.
Its main proposition is that, enabling knowledge
exchange requires that shared semantic contexts
constructions (perspective making) be made visible
and accessible (perspective taking). Interactions
between individuals are mediated by artifacts such
as diagrammatic models, maps, documents, images,
… named in (Star 1989)(Gasson 2004; Gasson
2005) as “boundary objects” . The meaning retrieval
of such artifacts is of most importance to achieve a
common understanding and promote effective
We propose a different perspective of traditional file
explorers’ applications. Inspired by the success of
the social book marking and tagging concepts in a
number of the so called web 2.0 applications, e.g.
Flickr, Delicious, CiteULike, You Tube, … our
proposal consist in the possibility of users tag all
their personal electronic assets. In contrast with
traditional file explorers based on classifying assets
by folders, which is exclusive, tagging is neither
exclusive nor hierarchical and therefore can have
an advantage over hierarchical taxonomies (Golder
and Huberman 2005). Tagging is fundamentally
about sense making. Sense making is a process in
which information is categorized and labeled
through which meaning emerges (Weick 1996).
Consider that one wants to classify this article, this
could be done in several different ways: authors,
research area, keywords
, conference, … In contrast
to the traditional folders approach, we can tag the
article in all the before mentioned categories. Of
course, user can choose if some asset and/or tag will
remain private or be publically available, to
accommodate the appropriate level of privacy.
Nevertheless, when people see benefits that
outweigh risks (e.g. public agendas views,
surveillance cameras…), they voluntarily adjust
their comfort levels by refining privacy and by
establishing new practices and social protocols
(Palen 1999).
We also include in our proposal a sub versioning
server (SVN) to manage assets versions easily. With
this characteristic users can share easier their public
assets and can do operations such as merge
differences from versions or revert to a specific
version. Besides the goals of easily find a specific
asset and manage assets versions, based on the
user’s tag cloud we pretend to characterize users
electronic world that will give some underlying
semantic in collaboration activities. Figure 1
presents an overview of the mentioned
functionalities in a use case diagram.
Figure 1: Prototype model.
Nowadays, organizations distribute work across
multiple applications some of empowering personal
activities (such as office productivity tools) and
others empowering collaboration (such as workflow
management systems, ERPs, …). An aspect
emerging in research is what kind of system/tool to
deliver, when presenting new concepts. Will it be a
completely new tool that users will accumulate with
the ones currently in use, or it will integrate
smoothly in existing tools and systems? Our
approach in the developed prototype consist in
having an icon in the user’s desktop where he can
drop any kind of documents (e.g. doc, pdf, jpg,…) as
well as emails and urls. By doing this it will pop an
window which allow the user to tag the respective
asset(es). To do this he can use any of the existing
tags (to avoid duplication for the same meaning) or
introduce new ones, see figure 2.
Figure 2: Asset tag window.
By launching our version of a file explorer the
TagSpace, see figure 3 and 4, user can navigate in
his/her tag cloud. By choosing a tag, a list of assets
classified under it, is presented. In the opposite
direction, i.e. by selecting an asset, the tags used in
its classification will highlight. The tags display font
size will be bigger when the tag will have more
associated assets. The bottom pane of the application
presents two tabs. The first one, presents in the
figure 3 will display current selected asset
properties: creator, date of creation, date of last
modification, identification icon, associated
annotations,…The second tab, presented in figure 4,
will display versioning operations, such as commit
version, checkout, revert, …
Figure 3: TagSpace window with document properties tab
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
Figure 4: TagSpace window with version control tab
The work presented in this article constitutes a
contribution for the construction of a shared
meaning in organizations communities from existing
personal digital assets, aiming to improve
collaboration efficiency and knowledge exchange.
Inspired in the recent concept of tagging and social
bookmarking we present an application that allows
users tag all his/her electronic assets. In this way, it
is possible a user characterization based on their tags
cloud constituting a contribution to a semantic
interpretation of user knowledge.
As future work we intend to further develop the
presented concept and prototype to improve
collaboration, supporting social tagging of the
shared assets. Of course this leads to a problem of
compatibility between personal and social tag clouds
that we must address. We also pretend to deliver a
visual representation of the tags cloud and their
relation, in order to facilitate perspective taking
(Boland and Tenkasi 1995) of user’s knowledge
domain. The use of the proposed application
shouldn’t require overhead work to the user; as so,
we intend to integrate our application in the typical
“open …” and “save…” applications menu items.
As soon as these topics are incorporated in the
prototype, it is essential to test and evaluate the
prototype in an organization. As referred in
(Markus, Majchrzak et al. 2002), once a new system
is introduced to support a process the actual way of
conducting that process changes. When systems are
introduced in an organization environment, some
tend to think that the work will be done
fundamentally in the same way but more efficiently
and quickly. This is rarely true, the work system
changes often in an unintended, unanticipated and
often undesirable way. In order to validate the
proposed concept and prototype we must evaluate its
usage against organizational elements such as
organizational communications and social
interaction (Vyhmeister, Mondelo et al. 2006). The
evaluation will consider specific issues of the
problem domain that we address like efficiency on
documents recall (personal and social) and effective
user and community characterization.
This work was partially supported by the Portuguese
Foundation for Science and Technology, Project
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