To understand what is meant by Co-operative Authoring, Content Management and Collaboration, one must look at the definitions of the words. Although at first sight the phrase "Co-operative Authoring" and the word "Collaboration" may seem to mean the same thing, they in fact mean different things, and they are also different in terms of the scope of the definition. The following definitions in italics are from the Merriam-Webster dictionary [Merriam Webster]. When the word is defined in terms of a similar word, that similar word has also been defined.
Co-operative: a) marked by co-operation <co-operative efforts>. b) marked by a willingness and ability to work with others <co-operative neighbours>
Co-operation: the action of co-operating: common effort
Co-operate: to act or work with another or others: act together
Authoring: to be the author of
Author: a) one that originates or creates. b) the writer of a literary work (as a book)
Collaboration: to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavour
Content: Things contained in...
Management: The act or art of being in control or in charge of ...
By stringing the definitions for the terms together, it is easy to see that the dictionary definition for "Co-operative Authoring" is "marked by a willingness and ability to work with others to be a writer (or creator) of a literary work". In terms of this research the literary work is a web page, but using the YEdit engine, it could be any kind of document.
Collaboration is easier, as it is not defined using similar terms. Collaboration means "to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavour".
Finally, Content Management is the art or act of being in control/in charge of the content of (in this case) web pages.
As can be seen by these definitions, Co-operative Authoring is group creation of a literary work (which in terms of this research means a single, or group of web pages), whereas Collaboration means to work with others, which covers a much wider group of activities, which may (and will in this research) include Co-operative Authoring, but also covers a diverse set of other collaboration activities. Content Management is a very good description of the YEdit engine itself.
All the terms co-operative authoring, collaboration and content/document management are required to describe the content of this thesis, because although the main focus is on the co-operative authoring of individual documents, there is also the aspect of collaborating with others to create the whole site (or portion thereof), and the management and control of the documents and content.
In terms of this research, co-operative authoring and collaboration are achieved by using the Web as the interface between the user and the content/document management software. This is achieved initially by using the ability of web pages to display forms for the input of data. These forms are used to display the current form of the web page in pure HTML, and they allow the user to edit this and then to submit the changes to the web server. Although this method of editing the raw HTML makes it more difficult for the casual editor, those that know HTML should be able to do so with little trouble. Although it could have been possible to create a subset of HTML to use, and format it appropriately, one of the ideas behind this thesis is to allow anyone to edit the pages, as full web pages. This means that there are no artificial limits placed on the content of the web pages (other than for security, by removing potentially malicious code). No artificial limits means that anything that is available for insertion on web pages is available for use in this system, rather than limiting what can be included to any particular subset or variant of HTML. In the future other methods of editing the web pages will be available, such as using many web browsers' in-built editor. This would be supported using the "PUT" operation that is available in HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), which allows uploading of contents to a web server. Other options include dedicated web page editors, other methods like WebDAV, and other non-web access methods.
One of the reasons why this research should look at co-operative authoring, collaboration and content management is that it allows the Web to be used as more than an information distribution medium. It allows for a free flowing web of information, in all directions, person to person (through the web site), person to web site operator, etc, rather than the normal web site creator to web surfer. This should enhance the way the Web is currently used and allow greater use of the Web for collaboration. It also has advantages that allow for more than just use over the Web, and so should be able to be used for any co-operative authoring and collaboration, and content management.
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