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Proceedings of the HCI'95 Conference on People and Computers X

Fullname:Proceedings of the Tenth Conference of the British Computer Society Human Computer Interaction Specialist Group
Note:People and Computers X
Editors:M. A. R. Kirby; Alan J. Dix; Janet E. Finlay
Location:Huddersfield, U.K.
Dates:1995-Aug-00
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
Standard No:ISBN 0-521-56729-7; hcibib: BCSHCI95
Papers:29
Pages:438
  1. Invited Papers
  2. Time and Space
  3. Training and User Support
  4. Metaphor and Everyday Design
  5. User Action History
  6. Formalism in HCI
  7. Creativity and Design
  8. Computer-Supported Communication
  9. Visualisation
  10. Task Analysis in Context
  11. Sight and Sound

Invited Papers

History as Tool and Application: The Journey from HCI'91 BIBAK 3-14
  John M. Carroll
Multimedia and networking technologies enable new notions of what history is and new ways to both respect and utilize historical aspects of the system development process. These possibilities are illustrated with discussions of two recent design history systems. Raison d'Etre is a video information system that presents stories and personal perspectives of design team members recorded at various times through the course of a project. The Blacksburg Electronic Village HistoryBase is a networked multimedia information system now being developed that presents documents and annotations describing a community network and the community within which it exists.
Keywords: Design, History, Design rationale, Design history
Support for HCI Educators: A View from the Trenches BIBAK 15-20
  Jean B. Gasen
HCI educators face a number of challenges in developing successful learning environments. These include scanning and filtering for relevant HCI information, extending and adapting that knowledge for use in educational contexts, and integrating the result into existing education frameworks. Each of these is considered in more detail and a set of recommendations for supporting HCI educators also is described. Developing closer ties between the research, education and practice communities of HCI is recommended.
Keywords: Education, Body of knowledge
Looking through HCI BIBAK 21-36
  T. R. G. Green
The study of human-computer interaction (HCI) could and should benefit from the study of interaction with all types of complex information-based artifacts. Examples of such 'computerless HCI' are given to illustrate the problems of 'mature disfluency' and error repair, and to show that computerless situations can be useful testbeds for HCI analyses. The crux of the problem is to consider HCI itself in its own terms, as a complex information-based artifact; to be successful it must be both useful and usable, which means meeting its potential users on their own terms. The 'cognitive dimensions' framework is briefly sketched as a tool which, while not having great power, aims to be comprehensible to non-specialists and which can be applied to all types of complex information-based artifacts. The proposal that HCI should broaden its base and should increase its usability seems to be well in accordance with themes found in the previous decade of invited papers.
Keywords: Errors, System image, Cognitive dimensions, Usability

Time and Space

Time and the Web: Representing and Reasoning about Temporal Properties of Interaction with Distributed Systems BIBAK 39-50
  Chris Johnson
New groups of users are learning to exploit the facilities provided by Internet browsers, such as Mosaic and Netscape. The graphical interaction style supported by these systems eases the traditional burdens of information retrieval using methods such as the file transfer protocol (ftp). In consequence, distributed information sources are being made available to people whose interests do not lie solely in computer science or systems engineering. This rapid growth in the Internet has exposed users to interaction problems that rarely occur with stand-alone computer systems. In particular, people are often faced with unpredictable timing delays over remote networks. These delays lead to frustration and error which can, in turn, prevent users from successfully retrieving necessary information. This paper exploits Clarke & Emerson's Computation Tree Logic (CTL) to identify presentation techniques that can support retrieval tasks. It is argued that CTL provides a convenient means of representing and reasoning about temporal properties of interaction with distributed systems.
Keywords: Interface design, Temporal logic, World Wide Web, Distributed systems
Cyberspace: The HCI Frontier? A New Model in Human-Computer Interaction BIBAK 51-62
  Ana Almeida; Licinio Roque; Antonio Figueiredo
As personal computing gives way to interpersonal computing, the existing models for the description of human-computer interaction prove incapable of accommodating the indispensable decentralization of control and distribution of action. With most computer based activities swiftly moving into the virtual space of online information exchange, we propose that an extension of the existing models should be made to the broad dimension of unbound online space. This is mainly a think piece about networking information and interaction, based on the concepts of space and action. Namely, we take the concept of bulletin board system as a paradigm for the analysis of online information exchange, and derive from it the concept of a Common User Environment (CUE), the basic building block of our architecture. We then interconnect those CUEs in networks that make up cyberspaces: virtual spaces of Human to Human Interaction, supported by a network of computers. This concept of cyberspace becomes our proposal of both an architecture and a model for the description and design of human-computer interaction and is the subject of our current work.
Keywords: Interpersonal computing, Online information exchange, Space, Cyberspace, Human factors in cyberspace, Interaction architecture
Evaluation of Techniques for Specifying 3D Rotations with a 2D Input Device BIBAK 63-76
  Ines Jacob; Javier Oliver
In this paper four techniques for the rotation of 3D objects on screen are evaluated. These techniques are called controllers, and they all use the mouse as input device. The controllers studied, the experiment design, the way of carrying it out and some of the results obtained are described. The aim of the experiment is to compare the different controllers and to test the influence of some user and task's characteristics on the time spent in the task and on the precision reached.
Keywords: 3D graphics, 3D interaction techniques

Training and User Support

Interactive Task Support on the Shop Floor: Observations on the Usability of the Interactive Task Support System and Differences in Orientation and Hands-On Training Use BIBAK 79-93
  Marko Nieminen; Jyrki J. J. Kasvi; Anneli Pulkkis; Matti Vartiainen
This paper deals with a hypermedia based interactive task support system (ITSS) developed in the Laboratory of Industrial Psychology. The system is aimed to train work tasks and to support employees at an assembly line. The problems of the study concern the differences of the orientation and hands-on training use of the ITSS and its usability. The use and usability of ITSS was studied on the shop floor at an assembly factory of ABB Industry. The research methods included log-file based computer event logging and user observation. The results show that in the orientation use of the ITSS, no information was accessed more than the other. In the hands-on training use, employees followed the recommended routes and sought detailed information, preferring pictures and digitised speech. Usability tests showed some fundamental problems in the functional structure of the ITSS.
Keywords: Multimedia, Usability evaluation, Assembly work, Task support
HyperDoc: An Interactive Systems Tool BIBAK 95-106
  Harold Thimbleby; Mark Addison
HyperDoc is an interactive development tool for designing interactive devices. Although HyperDoc's main purpose is to help design and analyse interactive devices and their manuals, it can also be used to investigate and demonstrate interactive help. HyperDoc itself represents a future user interface for many types of interactive consumer products, such as VCRs and TVs. Exciting developments of HyperDoc include integrating it as an operating system primitive, thus ensuring all systems can be both well-designed and well-documented. Introduction
  • Background Quick HyperDoc Overview
  • HyperDoc: The System
  • Notes on Finite State Machines Simulation Environment User Manual Production Interactive Help/Assistance
  • Assistance: Teaching and Doing -- and Designing
  • HyperDoc's Assistance How to? Where am I? What now? How do I go back? Why? Why not? Tasks
  • State Map (Finite State Machine) Future Perspectives
  • Flexible Manual Structures Conclusions
    Keywords: Interactive development tools, Hypertext, Documentation, Finite state machines, Assistance, Help
  • A Proper Explanation When You Need One BIBAK 107-118
      Harold Thimbleby; Peter B. Ladkin
    Quality program design has received considerable attention from the software engineering community. Quality user manual design has received considerable attention from the human computer interaction community. Yet manuals and systems are often independently conceived, and thus do not well complement each other. This paper shows one method of easily obtaining correct and complete user manuals guaranteed to correspond with the system they document. The method has considerable merit for improving interactive systems design.
    Keywords: User manuals, Interactive systems programming, Iterative design, Safety

    Metaphor and Everyday Design

    Everyday Theories, Cognitive Anthropology and User-Centred System Design BIBAK 121-135
      Ben Anderson; James L. Alty
    This paper introduces the notion of everyday theories and outlines their role in the design of human-computer interfaces. The paper provides a case study of the use of techniques from cognitive anthropology in eliciting user's everyday theories as an aid to system design. It concludes that cognitive anthropology appears to offer valuable analytic tools for user-centred system design; and that the relationship between researcher and informant in anthropological investigations provides a useful model for the required relationship between interface designer and potential user.
    Keywords: Cognitive anthropology, System design, Everyday theories
    Metaphor Reflections and a Tool for Thought BIBAK 137-150
      Michael Smyth; Ben Anderson; James L. Alty
    This paper introduces a model of metaphor at the human-computer interface that is grounded in the psycho-linguistic literature. The utility of the model is demonstrated in the course of the design and evaluation of a series of prototype systems that use metaphor as a strategy for interface design. Based on these experiences, a practical set of steps is presented which utilises the model as a 'Tool for Thinking' about metaphor and its role at the human-computer interface.
    Keywords: Metaphor, Interface design, Prototyping
    Which Metaphor for Which Database? BIBAK 151-165
      Tiziana Catarci; Maria F. Costabile; Maristella Matera
    The role of the users and their needs are now recognized in the database community. Many efforts are devoted to improve the quality of the interaction between the user and the database. For designing better interfaces that make the systems more usable, the use of suitable metaphors is crucial. The problem we address in this paper is whether an appropriate notion of metaphor can be tailored to the database interaction, so reflecting the peculiarities and needs of this specific field. Our argument originates from a recently published paper that presents a formalism whose aim is to provide a framework for flexible use, definition, and evaluation of visual metaphors in the specific case of database schemata. By discussing such a paper, we try to clarify concepts such as metaphor, data model, visual representation, etc. We also highlight some peculiarities of the database interaction. The considerations presented in this paper should constitute a basis towards a formal approach to metaphorical design for database interaction.
    Keywords: Metaphor, Databases, Visual representations

    User Action History

    A Model for Incremental Construction of Command Trees BIBAK 169-179
      Philippe P. Piernot; Marc P. Yvon
    Application histories have been used for a variety of purposes including error recovery, browsing past activities, macro recording and demonstrational interfaces. However, in most systems the history is kept as a simple list of primitive commands, which poorly reflects the user task structure. In this paper we first present Command Trees, a richer representation of command histories that offers better support for undo/redo mechanisms and programming by demonstration. We then introduce a new model to support incremental construction of command trees and an object-oriented application framework that implements this model. An important property of this model is that it is independent of the interaction modality, thus extending its purpose.
    Keywords: Command trees, Command parser, Undo/redo facilities, Demonstrational interfaces
    User Requirements for Undo Support in CSCW BIBAK 181-193
      Reza Hazemi; Linda Macaulay
    The authors are concerned with developing generic GUI tools that can be used to build user interfaces to CSCW systems. One feature of such a tool is the provision of undo support. Current CSCW systems provide only limited support for undo, where the developers of each system approach the problem according to the needs of their own target users. A generic GUI tool would facilitate building a number of CSCW user interfaces each with a different target user group and potentially each with different requirements for undo support. The paper presents an attempt to identify the generic user requirements for undo support. Members of the HCI community were surveyed and asked their preference for different types of undo support. Survey respondents agreed upon requirements for undo support for single user systems but were unable to reach a similar level of agreement for CSCW systems. None-the-less, the results point to a number of generic requirements for undo support, and suggest a way forward.
    Keywords: Graphical user interfaces (GUI), Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW), Undo, Groupware, User interface design, Requirements

    Formalism in HCI

    A Taxonomy and Evaluation of Formalisms for the Specification of Interactive Systems BIBAK 197-212
      Philippe Brun; Michel Beaudouin-Lafon
    This paper presents a taxonomy and an evaluation of formalisms for HCI. The taxonomy derives from the origins of the formalisms and is based on three main categories: Cognitive Science, Calculus Theory, and the Theory of Categories. The evaluation is based on an evaluation grid of twelve criteria structured into three groups: Expressive Power, Generative Capabilities, and Extensibility and Usability. Seventeen formalisms are evaluated with this method. The results of the evaluation are discussed with respect to the taxonomy leading to preliminary guidelines for the design of formalisms that better cover the needs of HCI.
    Keywords: Taxonomy, Evaluation, Formal methods, Design methods
    Formal Specification and Verification of CSCW using the Interactive Cooperative Object Formalism BIBAK 213-231
      Philippe Palanque; Remi Bastide
    The state of the art in human-computer interaction is nowadays what is commonly known as event-driven, direct manipulation interfaces (WIMP). The event-driven nature of that kind of interface puts the dialogue control into the hands of the user, and makes its specification, verification and implementation very difficult. Groupware systems, allowing the active cooperation of a group of users, make the problems even tougher because of the data sharing and of the special dialogue structure needed to allow users cooperation. This paper presents an architecture for groupware applications, a formal specification technique allowing to describe both the mono-user dialogue structure and the coordination of the cooperating users, and an analysis technique allowing to validate the specification models. The approach is based upon Cooperative Objects, a formalism integrating Petri Nets into the Object-Oriented approach.
    Keywords: Formal methods, Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW), Groupware, User interface design, Petri nets

    Creativity and Design

    A Support Tool for the Conceptual Phase of Design BIBAK 235-245
      Ralph Stuyver; Jim Hennessey
    The use of pen-and-paper sketching in the conceptual phase of design is still the most popular way of working for designers. Computer tools are used only in the later phases of the design process. This research is to determine if these computer tools can be useful in the first phase as well, where sketching plays an important role. Preliminary studies of how designers conceptualise resulted in a list of functional requirements. These requirements were used to develop a support tool for the conceptual phase of design, called IDEATOR. It is based on LCD tablet technology and electronic pen input. The first reactions of designers to IDEATOR have been very encouraging. Currently it is still in a conceptual stage; the next step will be to build a working prototype, which will be used for user testing.
    Keywords: Design support tool, Pen-based input, Interaction design, Conceptual design, Sketching
    Interactive Visualisation Artifacts: How can Abstractions Inform Design? BIBAK 247-265
      Lisa Tweedie
    Interactive visualisation artifacts (IVAs) are complex applications that allow users to manipulate, encode and organise data graphically. These systems are difficult to design well. This paper argues that abstractions can be used to evaluate such designs. These abstractions need to focus on the task and artifact. This paper presents both qualitative abstractions of the task and a semi-formal notation to describe IVAs (DIVA). Examples of this notation in use are given and the insights that this provides are discussed.
    Keywords: Visualisation, User interface design, Interactive graphics
    "I'll know what I want when I see it." -- Towards a Creative Assistant BIBAK 267-278
      Eric W. Tatham
    This paper seeks to draw attention to the need for a new kind of interface, that is geared specifically to aiding users who are working in a creative domain where the goals are vague and perhaps only loosely specified at the outset. Proposed, is the development of a constraint-based interface that would provide an interactive environment in which users could generate and manipulate successive layers of constraints in order to explore creative ideas. It would differ most significantly from existing systems in that its 'perception' of input would be capable of introducing an element of creativity. In such cases, its interpretation would not be wholly predictable or entirely random but dependent on recognition of salient features and the ability to construct analogous associations.
       The paper identifies current work in the areas of constraint-based computation and analogy modelling that could provide the essential ingredients of a creative interface, outlining a possible basis for its realization.
    Keywords: Creativity, Creative interfaces, Intelligent interfaces, Adaptive interfaces, Analogy, Constraints, Constraint-based interfaces, Music composition

    Computer-Supported Communication

    Computer Interviews: An Initial Investigation using Free Text Responses BIBAK 281-288
      D. Ramanee Peiris; Norman Alm; Peter Gregor
    Computer interviews have been found to be a useful tool as a precursor to face to face interviews. Some interviewees find it easier to reveal personal or sensitive information to a computer than a human interviewer. Systems may be limited by the use of multiple choice answers. Full natural language understanding which would allow an interview to accurately follow the context of the interviewee's answers is not currently available. A system was developed to model human interviewer behaviour, but without the pretence of intelligence. Users typed in their answers and were told that the system pattern matched for keywords in order to present relevant subsequent questions.
       Users found it as acceptable as multiple choice, and said they felt able to answer more truthfully using their own words.
    Keywords: Computer interviewing, Computer supported communication, Dialogue design, Interview models, Pattern matching
    What's the Flaming Problem? or Computer Mediated Communication -- Deindividuating or Disinhibiting? BIBAK 289-302
      Rosalind Dyer; Ruth Green; Marian Pitts; Gill Millward
    Two studies were undertaken to determine the social psychological processes underlying aggressive behaviours (flaming) in Computer Mediated Communication (CMC). When compared to Face to Face (FTF) communication, statistically significant differences in levels of public and private self-awareness were observed. Earlier explanations involving deindividuation as the process underlying flaming were discarded, and the theory of disinhibition applied. In accordance with disinhibition theory, it was found that levels of flaming in CMC could be significantly altered by manipulating levels of accountability under experimental conditions.
    Keywords: Computer mediated communication (CMC), Flaming, Deindividuation, Disinhibition, Self-awareness, Face to face communication (FTF)

    Visualisation

    Tight Coupling: Guiding User Actions in a Direct Manipulation Retrieval System BIBAK 305-321
      Christopher Ahlberg; Staffan Truve
    Tight coupling is a strategy in the design of query mechanisms in direct manipulation query systems. Tight coupling helps users navigate toward high precision queries in a space of database queries, avoid empty query results, and quickly narrow down the number of possible and meaningful queries. Tight coupling of a query mechanism is defined as: the results of user operations (querying, zooming, panning) on query devices (starfields, rangesliders, alphasliders, and toggles) are reflected in all query devices by visual feedback and physical constraints on meaningful query settings. An intuitive design of tight coupling is presented, along with a formal description. The design is based on a Model of Information Exploration -- MIE. An empirical study in which subjects interacted with a tightly coupled interface to a jobs/skills matching database confirms the power of tight coupling.
    Keywords: Information exploration, Visualisation, Dynamic queries, Database query, Query refinement, Tight coupling
    Are Visual Query Languages Easier to Use than Traditional Ones? An Experimental Proof BIBAK 323-338
      Tiziana Catarci; Giuseppe Santucci
    The importance of designing query system which are effective and easy to use has been widely recognized in the database area. Also, it is well known that the adequacy of a system can be mainly tested against actual users in a well settled experiment. However, very few such experiments have been conducted. The overall objective of our study is to measure and understand the comparative ease with which subjects can construct queries in either a novel visual query language, namely QBD*, or a well-known traditional textual language such as SQL. More specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is significant interaction between:
  • the query class and the query language type; and
  • between the type of query language and the experience of the user. The analysis of the experiment results allows us to say that the effectiveness of a query language varies depending on the classes of queries and the kinds of users. However, the result trend is generally in favor of the QBD* approach, which is based on a conceptual data model, closer to the user view of the reality than the relational model, a visual representation of such a model, more attractive and graspable than a textual list of table names, and direct manipulation commands, having a syntax much easier than the SQL one.
    Keywords: Databases, Visual query languages, Usability tests
  • An Evaluation of Open Hypertext Features for Improved File Access BIBAK 339-354
      Jane M. Fritz; Ian D. Benest
    Problem solving by end users is enhanced by ready access to relevant information that may be spread across many file types. Profitable retrieval would benefit from the inclusion of interrelationships between files. This paper describes the design and prototype implementation of an open hypertext-type enhancement to the Windows 3.1 file management system. It provides the user with the ability to define an active file segment as a hyperbase entry, stored with user-defined attribute values. Users are able to configure their own active graphical maps of interrelated nodes, thus forming link structures within a user's file system. Empirical studies suggests that retrieval and browsing tasks are improved with these enhancements.
    Keywords: Hypertext, File management, Information retrieval, Visualisation, Utility, Usability

    Task Analysis in Context

    The Notion of Task in Human-Computer Interaction BIBAK 357-365
      Graham Storrs
    This brief paper attempts to define the term 'Task' for use in work on human-computer interaction. The definition given relates the concepts of 'Goal', 'Action', 'State' and 'Context' and gives separate definitions for and discusses each of these. While the primary focus is theoretical, an attempt is made to give the implications of this definition for software development practice.
    Keywords: Task analysis, Conceptual model, Theory
    Applying a Structured Method for Usability Engineering to Domestic Energy Management User Requirements: A Successful Case-Study BIBAK 367-385
      Adam Stork; James Middlemass; John Long
    MUSE, a structured Method for Usability Engineering, was created to improve the practice of Human-Computer Interaction practitioners, a practice that is primarily one of designing artefacts that fulfil user requirements. This paper offers a case-study application of MUSE to a set of domestic energy management user requirements to produce an artefact. The paper presents: an overview of MUSE; the necessary features of an application; the user requirements; the details of the application; the resulting artefact; and an assessment of the artefact with respect to the user requirements. Finally, it is argued that this case-study be considered 'successful', where a successful case-study extends the known frontiers of application of MUSE.
    Keywords: Structured methods, Energy management systems, Planning and control, Software engineering
    Theories of Context Influence the System Abstractions Used to Design Interactive Systems BIBAK 387-405
      Gilbert Cockton; Steven Clarke; Philip Gray
    There can be many relationships between theories of context and design choices in interactive systems development. More specifically, a theory of context may bias development towards certain classes of design option. We illustrate this by examining Bødker's activity theory analysis of footnote insertion in Microsoft Word. Bødker's focus on activity and her 'handling' aspects of interaction seems to restrict her design options to dialogue features. We present a different, domain-oriented analysis of footnotes in Microsoft Word that focuses design on options for word processor functionality. The differences need to be understood. A conjecture is posed and elaborated. This conjecture suggests that there are unavoidably biased interactions between contextual information and design spaces. The challenge for designers is to exploit these biases rather than to eliminate them. We propose that this can be achieved within a tool-based development process where context and designs are given explicit comprehensive layered representations; and are explicitly linked via design rationales. Without such representations and links, the use of context will be unsystematic, variable in its effectiveness, concentrated in the early stages of development, lost to the longest life cycle phase of operation and maintenance, and (worst of all) beyond assessment.
    Keywords: Literate development, Interactive systems development, Design rationale, Requirements traceability, Context, Problem description, Activity theory, Domain analysis, Design notations, Models of interactive systems

    Sight and Sound

    Can We Use Music in Computer-Human Communication? BIBAK 409-423
      James L. Alty
    The audio channel has been somewhat neglected in Human Computer Interface Design. It is a powerful channel which offers processing options often of a complementary nature to the visual channel. Music makes the most complex and sophisticated use of this channel and has well-organised techniques and structures for disambiguating parallel time-dependent events. This paper examines the contribution music might make to interface design and reports on some preliminary investigations, which indicate that there does seem to be a prima facie case for examining the subject further.
    Keywords: Auditory, I/O, Audiolisation, Music, Design, Multimodal interfaces
    Red Faces over User Interfaces: What should Colour be used For? BIBAK 425-435
      Dan Diaper; P. S. Sahithi
    One meaning of to have a red face in vernacular English is to be embarrassed. This paper's message is ultimately a simple one and one that those in HCI should be red faced about.
       This paper proposes that User Interface (UI) designers have inadequately used many available UI display features. Far more, potentially useful information could be conveyed to users by the consistent use of UI features such as spatial location, motion, apparent depth, and colour. Due only to a shortage of space, this paper will use colour as an example, under exploited UI feature. It is concluded that both HCI knowledge and UID (UI Design) practice are inadequate at present with respect to the use of colour in UIs.
       An example high-level software design is offered to demonstrate one appropriate style of solution.
    Keywords: User interface design, Design principles, Redesign or prototyping, Colour user interfaces, Conventions as standards