Shinya Hanano, Yoshihiro Kaneko, Makoto Takema
E-mail is suitable for making contacts, but not for discussions. Discussions by e-mail often cause excessive arguments, goes out and drifts. This project aims to develop a system consisting of logical and perceptual interfaces to support constructive discussions through computer networks and establish a communication environment which is different from current e-mail and WWW systems.
Our analysis of e-mail discussions proved that participants cannot concentrate into discussions unless human coordinators do not actively lead the discussions.
Thus, we designed the network discussion platform to provide the coordinator agent and the active mail with two types of interfaces. The logical interface arranges messages, stimulates participants' attentions and guides constructive discussions. The perceptual interface displays transitions of discussions on a WWW screen with a sense of presence.
The Coordinator Agent interprets a set of transition rules called a scenario. It supports a human coordinator to grasp the discussion situation. The internal expression of the scenario is based on available protocol description languages, i.e., AgenTalk and Estelle. We also developed a simple GUI editor for defining the rules.
When an e-mail is sent, the sender adds the active mail script to his/her message. The script runs on a receiver's computer. The script can perform various functions including visualizing discussions.
We are going to use this system for the following purposes. We will apply the system to various fields after building an early prototype.