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IBM Cambridge Research Center

  Project: Sametime and Domino: Blending the Synchronous and Asynchronous

Researcher: Steve Foley, Bob Stachel

A Collaborative User Experience Project:

Traditionally, there have been two distinctly different types of electronic collaboration: asynchronous and synchronous. With asynchronous products such as Domino, a user posts a document for discussion and then waits for others to respond. Synchronous forms of collaboration such as Lotus Sametime, on the other hand, offer real-time chat capabilities. While Sametime users can collaborate online simultaneously, once their "conversation" has ended nothing is saved. On the other hand, although Notes doesn't support synchronous interaction, Notes users can save and store their email conversations for later reference.

At CUE, we believe that by thoughtfully combining Sametime with Notes' rich storage capability, we can expand Sametime to offer a new breed of hybrid applications. By understanding how to blend the unique capabilities of Domino and Sametime, we hope to identify opportunities that can take both applications beyond their traditional roles in collaborative work.

CUE plans to build a series of prototypes that will help us understand how to build these applications. The first prototype we have developed is a "persistent chat" application. Persistent chat is a chat session that can be saved. This means that latecomers to a conversation can access the saved chat to see what was said before they joined it. We chose this application for its simplicity and to quickly show our point. In the future, we will work on prototypes that extend beyond chat to discover the architectural requirements needed to support other asynchronous/synchronous applications.