Tuesday, November 09, 2004

CSCW - Tuesday morning - first session

Today's first presenter is Laura Dabbish, with whom I talked last night. Spontaneous, informal communication has both benefits and downsides. Her focus is on interruptions. Typically, the interrupter benefits more than the recipient. 45% of the time the recipient didn't return to the task they were doing previously. She tried two approaches: workload displays and shared social identity. How much info can you give the interrupter without hurting his effectiveness? If the interrupter and recipient have joint goals, how does that effect their effectiveness. IOW, how do you maximize the effectiveness of both parties?

Ideally, the interrupter would use the workload info to time the interruption to minimize the impact of the interruption. People self-reported using the information displays, but the data indicate otherwise. The question rate was 22% less for team members, and they did use the info to better time their questions. The abstract display of workload worked best. Higher bandwidth was too distracting on the interrupter end, impacting the interrupter's performance.

A question was asked about how you summarize a more complex task. The answer (by Bob Kraut, her advisor) is that machine learning can give approximation of workload. Really??????? C'mon. What about when you are doing a task in your cube that doesn't involve the computer, like, perhaps, deep thinking? Even though sometimes interruptions are actually beneficial to the recipients, this research assumes that all interruptions are bad.

The second talk in this session isn't all that gripping. I'm spending more time on the backchannel discussing IM usage in call centers. The presenter is discussing an aware phone prototype which uses manual settings of availability since it is very difficult to automate it in a medical environment. Evaluation: the younger docs really liked it, because they feel bad about interrupting the older docs. IM might not be the best channel, and privacy might be a problem. Social awareness includes physical location as part of availablity.

The third speaker, Quentin Jones, immediately has me engaged. He is presenting Design Requirements of Location Aware Community Systems. He calls his approach P3 = People to people to geographical places. Uses Harry Potter's Marauder's Map as an example. How cool. Just another sign that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

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