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This paper reviews systematic research on collaborative work involving synchronous, or same-time, interactions, which comprise a major challenge for projects in which a distance of 30 metres or more separates participants. It identifies the specific advantages of close proximity, or 'radical co-location', in which participants share a common room or workspace. Reference to these advantages is used to assess the shortcomings of co-operative work support techniques including software and video conferencing. A variety of contexts in which distant collaboration is undertaken are examined in order to identify instances of success, as well as a range of specific problems related to cultural and time zone differences and the limitations of available of information and communication technologies for interpersonal communication. Prospects for future technologies to transcend these limitations are discussed.
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Keywords: Collaboratories; Communication technology; Computer supported co-operative work; Scientific research collaboration; Tele-work

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Information, University of Michigan, 550 East University Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1092, U.S.A.

Publication date: January 1, 2002

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