The Internet has changed the way we interact and communicate. Two to three decades ago the only way to stay in touch with people was to see them in person, write letters, or use a fixed network phone. At work, we had video conferencing and fax, but that was basically it. The Internet was available, but only few of us actually had an e-mail account—and if we had, we often had to share it with others. Those were the days. . .
Today everything is different. Most of us have a mobile phone, a PDA, and a computer connected to the Internet. Flat rates and high-speed Internet connections make communication and access to information easy and cheap. We don’t need actually to meet our friends anymore, but can communicate with them remotely and in realtime, via (IP) telephony, e-mail, instant messaging, chat forums, and Internet communities. In addition to voice and text, we can also exchange photos or even live video streams easily. At work, the picture is similar. Many projects require collaboratation both in and with distributed teams—often across countries, continents, cultures, and time-zones. Communication enabled business processes, as described and advocated by Gartner, are a growing trend in the support of business value chains in enterprises and firms. Consequently there is a huge need for communication and collaboration tools that allow distributed groups of people to coordinate their activities and share and work on a common set of artifacts effectively and in real-time.