Infomediation Workshop

Kinji Yamasaki Sholink Corporation 2672 Bayshore Parkway, Suite 605, Mountain View, CA, USA 94043,


The information processing paradigm is changing due to virtual unlimited access to information using Web technologies, which is altering the process by which information is systematized to increase information's applicability and usefulness. This workshop will explore the architectural model and the interoperability requirements necessary when an infomediator (a knowledge facilitator) is inserted to mediate the information process in highly complex and dynamic information environments.


  • Introduce the infomediation process as it applies to Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW).
  • Research the impact of the information mediation in packaging information to deliver to the knowledge worker in expanding the capabilities of CSCW.
  • Explore the types of standards that might be necessary in assuring interoperability between multiple organization infomediators and knowledge domains in line with Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW).


  • Ensure the consideration of the information mediation process within a knowledge domain as an integral part of the knowledge domain's interoperability;
  • Ensure all interfaces being developed and considered for standardization include the information mediation process;
  • Articulate the argument that the information mediation process will not only increase the rate of market penetration of knowledge domains, but also increase the overall size of the market potential and will be easier to implement from a technical and standardization process.


    Information processes often assumes technology to be responsible for an overwhelming share of the process. Once a process is established and programmed into an information system, the program becomes the primary method in which information is delivered to a knowledge worker or to an information processor. While this is viable for static processes in which information processors are fungible entities, this is not viable in a majority of organizations in which knowledge workers need access to a variety of information.

    Douglas C. Engelbart

    Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

    "It is predictable that increasing functional overlap will occur as these expanding domains begin to overlap. It has become apparent to me that someday all of our basic knowledge-work domains will be integrated within one coherent "organizational knowledge workshop." This leads to thinking about an over-all, integrated architectural approach to the ever larger set of common knowledge work capabilities emerging within a multi-vendor environment.

    This paper considers the "interoperability between knowledge domains." This interoperability theme will be increasingly important for a workable CSCW framework as the scope and degree of CSCW increases. Dramatic increases will predictably create a marked paradigm shift about how to organize and operate cooperative human endeavors. I think that two phenomena will yield changes and a paradigm shift that will make this interoperability of paramount importance:

    (1) with a relatively unbounded technological frontier together with immense and growing economic pressure, the speed, size and cost of computers, memory, and digital communications will continue improving by geometric progression;

    (2) awareness and importance of CSCW is emerging, with a predictable trend toward our doing more and more of our personal and cooperative knowledge-work online." [Knowledge-Domain Interoperabilitiy and an Open Hyperdocument System, excerpted from Proceedings of the Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, Los Angeles, Ca. October 7-10, 1990]


We emphatically agree with Dr. Engelbart's position and views with respect to the rapidly emerging importance of a workable CSCW and the need for interoperability between knowledge domains. We also agree with the assessment of the urgency of highly effective knowledge work capabilities. We agree that organizations are increasing their awareness and importance of computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) . We believe however, that there is an alternative architecture and implementation of a CSCW information system.

There is an information mediation process that needs to exist supporting structured electronic-based knowledge domains. This mediation process needs to manage the information within the domain. Included in the information mediation function is the need to interoperate with other electronic-based knowledge domains, within and outside the organization.

Dr. Englebart's model assumes a computer literate, computer comfortable knowledge worker. We believe that there is a large segment of knowledge workers who will not want a sophisticated array of gadgetry which requires training time and a significant comfort level. They will want the simplest of capabilities. They will want information delivered to them. They will insist on information on demand. This group will need a support staff to mediate their information; maintain their knowledge domains.

The model also assumes a relatively static information systems environment where information is in an egalitarian state. Data, information, and knowledge all have different status. Some information can be more public than others: Information has a quality of sensitivity. This quality of sensitivity mandates controls on the movement and access to information.

Cooperative Infomediated Knowledge Creation:

Remove both assumptions and you have a computer-supported cooperative work system that require the mediation of information for a group of knowledge workers. We believe that the most important attribute of this type of system is its ability to be flexible to the needs of the knowledge worker and the dynamics of the environment which can change the information process. Flexibility is best managed by a person. People are more flexible than computer programs. Therefore, any information process, especially one which encompasses multiple organizations, must also include the structure which consists of groups of knowledge workers supported by infomediators.

This workshop will explore the cooperative infomediated knowledge creation extending from Dr. Englebart's work in Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) concept. This workshop will consider some of the following issues with respect to technology and interoperability:

  • Process Reconciliation - when 2 processes from 2 organizations need to be synchronized, how will it be accomplished;
  • Dynamic versus structured workflow - how can technology support different types of workflow in a cooperative environment;
  • Authorization and accountability - using technology to support multiple authorization;
  • How can the technology provide an elegant solution to knowledge workers having continually dynamic knowledge domains that will need infomediation.

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