EIES2

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(Originally written by JimScarver at http://www.njit.edu/njIT/Department/CCCC/eies.html)

The Electronic Information Exchange System II (EIES2) was a second generation computer-mediated communications system developed at The New Jersey Institute of Technology, Center for Information Age Technology (CIAT) and Computerized Conferencing and Communications Center (CCCC) with support from the New Jersey Office of Telecommunications and Information Services (OTIS), the Commission on Science and Technology, the National Science Foundation, and partnerships with AT&T Information Systems, Computer Sciences Corporation, Jutland Institute of Technology in Denmark, Annenberg/CPB, and the Sloan Foundation. EIES2 had been under development since 1985. It had evolved to provide an easy to use learner interface plus advanced features to satisfy both the first time member and the most advanced members.

EIES2 provided a comprehensive environment for electronic mail and computerized conferencing. The self organizing properties of the communications database helped members cope with large amounts of on-line information. Conferencing coupled with a hierarchical item response stucture organized communications into discussions and sub-discussions. Keywords and associations linked items across different discussions. Personal keywords helped members organize their communications. Members may drop any discussion or sub-discussion that does not interest them to minimize information overload. Members maintained ownership and control of their communications-- they could modify or delete items even after they had been sent, and received replies to items entered anonymously. Friendly addressing allowed members and conferences to be addressed by nickname, number, initials or any part, or combination of parts of the name. The global search capability allowed members to find items anywhere on the system. Members could specify search criteria in advance for items of particular interest to them, these "filters" caught items as they are entered in the system and alerted members to new items that were of particular interest to them. The on-line "forms" facility supported semi-structured messages for on-line data collection. Activities within EIES2 integrated application support with communications. EIES2 tracked not only what is read and unread, but also what is done and undone. Activities helped stucture on-line group activities such as the "VirtualClassroom", group decision support, automated facilities to support the office, the project, the library, etc. EIES2 provided extensive support for micro-computer users and could be accessed by virtually any type of terminal or PC. A simple menu system with consistant screen layouts provided extensive on-line help for new users. Commands and answer-aheads provided direct access to the full EIES2 capabilities for the advanced user. A new graphical, hyper-media interface, was available using the world wide web HTML clients such as Mosaic from NCSA.

The distributed architecture and support of modern standards would allow EIES2 to support a virtually limitless member community. In the past, EIES2 nodes had been installed at NJIT, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the Jutland Institute of Technology, University of the Virgin Islands, Oklahoma State, Oregon EdNet, FUNDESCO, and the Oslo Business School. EIES2 had been run on equipment from Hewlett Packard, Digital Equipment Corporation, Sun Microsystems, IBM and AT&T. EIES2 had operated under the UNIX operating system networking over TCP/IP networks. EIES2 networking facilities had also been demonstrated over ISO, UUCP, and simple asyncronous line networks. There were also plans to support VMS, AIX, MS-DOS and other operating environments.

The CCCC at NJIT had been researching group communications via computers via controlled experimentation and hundreds of group trials involving thousands of members for the past 17 years. EIES2 represented a set of tools for continued research at NJIT into computer-mediated communications. Research at the time included the development and study of GDSS tools, extensions to the VirtualClassroom (TM), and the design of group Hypermedia systems.

EIES2 provided it's own distributed Smalltalk environment using ISO standard remote operations to support the development and study of future system for computer supported cooperative work. It provided an integrated Abstact Syntax Notation 1 (ASN.1) compiler to support the current and future application layer standards.

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