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13 Collaboration On WWW

WWW was originally envisaged by Tim Berners-Lee as a groupware tool. In practice it grew in popularity as a publishing tool. However software developers are now working on tools which will facilitate collaboration on WWW. A brief summary of some of the collaborative tools is given below.

Asynchronous Systems


WIT, the WWW Interactive Talk system, was announced shortly after the WWW 94 conference in CERN. WIT can be accessed at the URL

Figure 13-1 WIT.

Access To Usenet

The Netscape browser can be used to post to Usenet newsgroups.

Figure 13-2 Posting To Usenet News.


Hypermail is a utility which can be used to convert mail archives to hypertext format on WWW. Further details are available at the URL A example of a hypermail archive is illustrated below.

Figure 13-3 A Hypermail Archive.


Mailserv provides a forms interface to a number of mailing list servers. The software is available at the URL The software was written by Patrick M Fitzgerald (

Figure 13-4 The Mailserv Interface To Mailing List Servers.

Synchronous Systems


WebChat is a real-time, multimedia chatting application for the Web. WebChat allows visitors at your Web site to engage in live conversation. Users can incorporate images, video and audio clips, and "hotlinks" into their chat. WebChat is available at the URL
Figure 13-5 WebChat.

One interesting application of a multimedia desktop conferencing systems is MONET (Meeting on the Network) which is described in Applications of Mosaic in Health Care Delivery by Srivasa et al. This paper, which was presented at the Mosaic and The Web conference, is available at the URL

Figure 13-6 MONET.

At the time of writing many of these services are experimental. However, given the rapid growth of WWW and the extent of development work which is going on, such services may be mainstream in the near future.

Virtual Conferences

One form of collaboration within the academic community is through conferences, workshops and seminars. Whenever the author gives a paper at a conference or is involved in running a workshop or a course he makes his papers, OHP foils, etc. available on WWW under his personal page (sometimes referred to as a vanity page).

About 200 of the papers which were given at the second WWW conference, Mosaic and The Web, were available on WWW before the conference began. Perhaps one important question which the academic community should be addressing is whether it should be the standard practice for conference proceedings to be made available on WWW.

Further Information

A collection of WWW collaborative projects is available at the URL

Articles on Towards Standards for an Interactive Web is available at the URL

Examples of conference proceedings available on WWW is given in Appendix 5.

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