IM, E-mail, slide presentations, word processing documents – these are among the desktop productivity tools people use these days to get work done. The variety of tools used by teams for collaboration and workflow, in fact, can be daunting.
Not too long ago, IBM Lotus developers saw this problem and began work to assemble tools around an activity-centric collaboration architecture. At Lotusphere 2005, company representatives will report on their progress to create "a hybrid application that supports collaborations that fall between the informality of email and the structure of a Teamroom or Quickplace." Activity Explorer is the name of the software that is to carry this concept forward.
The work appears to be in the tradition of work done by David Gelernter with Lifestreams, Ray Ozzie with Groove and others, to go beyond the desktop and file cabinet metaphor that has largely influenced productivity software design to date.
With this approach, you organize collaboration around the way the work is being done, rather than around the technologies that are being used to do the work, IBM Lotus hand Charlie Hill told SearchDomino.com just prior to Lotusphere. Hill is senior technical staff member, IBM Lotus, and design lead for the IBM Louts Workplace family of products. Hill and colleagues will present their status report on this topic in a Lotusphere 2005 session entitled "Activity-Centric Collaboration: What's Next?"
"Live objects" are key to understanding activity-based collaboration, said Hill. The live object approach allows end users to drag presentations into Activity Explorer. The Explorer can become a place where you can collaborate, becoming the beginning of a communication thread.
"In effect, you assemble and activity," emphasized Hill. This assembly is rather like an e-mail thread this is a combination of different artifacts you produce.
"The vision," said Hill, is to unify the various tools people use across their infrastructure. In Workplace, the activity represents a discrete business task. It includes all of the people processes and work products that are involved in the work."
What does Activity Explorer mean for the Notes world? Stay tuned for part two of our conversation on Activity Explorer with Charlie Hill.