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In this article we present a qualitative study of phenomena of attention shifting and awareness that occur during a synchronous collaborative activity. The objective of this research is to analyze the interplay between task, attention mechanisms and the dynamics of collaboration. This study presents the detailed examination of attention shifting of a user engaged in a collaborative activity. It also discusses possible reasons for unattended events and awareness failures. The findings of this analysis can provide useful information for the design of groupware awareness mechanisms as well as for the evaluation of groupware applications.