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IWC Tables of Contents: 010203040506070809101112131415

Interacting with Computers 5

Editors:Dan Diaper
Standard No:ISSN 0953-5438
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IWC 1993 Volume 5 Issue 1
  2. IWC 1993 Volume 5 Issue 2
  3. IWC 1993 Volume 5 Issue 3
  4. IWC 1993 Volume 5 Issue 4

IWC 1993 Volume 5 Issue 1


Creating a Design Science of Human-Computer Interaction BIBAK 3-12
  John M. Carroll
An increasingly important task of computer science is to support the analysis and design of computers as things to learn from, as tools to use in one's work, as media for interacting with other people. Human-computer interaction (HCI) is the speciality area that addresses this task. Through the past two decades, HCI has pursued a broad and ambitious scientific agenda, progressively integrating its research concerns with the contexts of system development and use. This has created an unprecedented opportunity to manage the emergence of new technology so as to support socially responsive objectives.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, History and trends, Software psychology, Iterative development, Analytic models, Design rationale
Using Unfamiliar Programming Languages: The Effects on Expertise BIBAK 13-30
  Jean Scholtz; Susan Wiedenbeck
The paper begins by describing a model of the influences operating when an experienced programmer learns to program in an unfamiliar language. It then reports on an empirical study which investigated how a change of programming language affects experienced programmers. Programmers solved a familiar problem using two unfamiliar languages. It was found that programmers used knowledge from past experience in solving the problem, but often had to adapt the knowledge to take good advantages of the new languages. They were only partly successful in doing this, and overall performance was poor. The solution process of the programmers was disrupted, as shown by more plan changes and more extensive backward planning. The two unfamiliar languages had impacts at different levels in the planning process.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Programming, Program languages
Effects of Linguistic Sophistication on the Usability of a Natural Language Interface BIBAK 31-59
  Alan Burton; Anthony P. Steward
Casual users of database systems are not skilled in structured query languages. Natural language interfaces (NLIs) could provide them with the flexibility and ease of use that they require. The paper challenges the dictum that the usability of an NLI is enhanced when its linguistic capabilities are extended. It is argued that effective natural language communication needs a naturalistic sublanguage of English, reduced in complexity, but nevertheless providing the flexibility of natural language input. Two investigations are described, both of which involved real users performing real information retrieval tasks. The first gives an insight into the detailed characteristics of such a sublanguage, providing a comparison with earlier research. The second compares the effect of intersentential linking devices like ellipsis, on the usability of an NLI, with that of simple, extralinguistic editing facilities. The results show that enhanced linguistic capabilities can indeed improve usability under certain circumstances, but that extralinguistic enhancements can be just as effective. The results also show that usability can actually degrade as both the linguistic and the extralinguistic capabilities of an interface are improved.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Natural language interface, Casual user, Usability, Linguistic sophistication, Ellipsis, Immediate focus

Special Issue on CSCW: Part 2

A Study of Breakdowns and Repairs in a Computer-Mediated Communication System BIBAK 61-77
  Mike Sharples
There have been few naturalistic studies of synchronous computer-mediated communication. For two years a telewriting system was used for tutoring students at the UK Open University, connecting up to ten study centres and adding graphic communication to voice-only teleconferencing. This paper presents the findings of a study of the operation of the system, concentrating on breakdowns in communication and the technical and organisational changes needed to overcome them. The paper concludes with recommendations for the design of future telewriting systems and guidelines for the deployment of computer-mediated communication systems as part of working life.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-mediated communication, Teleconferencing
Managing Design Ideas with a Shared Drawing Tool BIBAK 79-114
  Iva M. Lu; Marilyn M. Mantei
The generation of design ideas in group discussion is a complex and dynamic process. The fluent expression of ideas and the ability to interact and build on representations created by others contributes significantly to the process. When group members are separated by physical distance, the fluency of this process is interrupted. Computerized shared drawing tools re-establish this fluency. Such tools need to aid not only the drawing process, but also the management of design ideas during the process. The paper lays the groundwork for the design of the idea management portion of a shared drawing tool. It presents a list of group idea management behaviours and identifies user requirements in support of these activities. A prototype shared drawing system is described which attempts to incorporate the user requirements into an interface design. The paper then presents the results of a usability study conducted on the prototype. The interface performed miserably, but the study provided support for the user requirements and gave detailed insight into how a shared drawing interface should be designed.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-supported cooperative work, Shared drawing tools, Groupware
Understanding and Uncovering Design Issues in Synchronous Shared-Window Conferencing BIBAK 115-130
  P. T. Hughes; M. E. Morris; T. A. Plant
The paper reports on an investigation of the design of integrated computer and telecommunications systems for supporting informally-organised group work. This has entailed an iterative, user-involved approach to design, because such systems will ultimately be accepted in the work-place only if they prove to augment, and not hinder, people's work practices. Much work, especially office-based work, is performed in small, informal groups. The authors therefore concentrated on the support necessary for the effective operation of these groups, instead of focusing on more formalised group work. The results obtained provide a sound insight into how better to support co-operative work and the authors gained equally valuable experience in the evaluation of software with geographically distributed users. The paper presents an overview of the design and evaluation approach, summarises the results, and includes a brief discussion on potential future research topics.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-supported cooperative work, Shared-windows, Shared objects, Teleconferencing, User-centred design

IWC 1993 Volume 5 Issue 2

A Task-Based Cognitive Model for User-Network Interaction: Defining a Task Taxonomy to Guide the Interface Designer BIBAK 139-166
  Paul M. Mullins; Siegfried Treu
Consistency has generally been viewed as a desirable characteristic of human-computer interfaces. Its significance is increased in the design of interfaces to open network environments, involving heterogeneous assortments of hardware and software, lack of central authority, and a constantly changing (and growing) user community. This paper addresses consistency with respect to the tasks that an interface should support in the virtual communication link between a user and any network-based application. A cognitive model was constructed to provide a meaningful framework for the development of a hierarchically structured set of tasks. An initial set of 143 tasks was composed and defined. Then, using an extensive questionnaire, a group of expert users of computer networks was asked to evaluate the hypothesized tasks. This process resulted in a task hierarchy with 89 leaf nodes representing basic tasks. The task definitions are outlined in an appendix. The cognitive model, task sets and task evaluation technique are intended to have practical utility for engineers, system designers, and software developers of user interfaces to complex systems. To illustrate their use, a prototype system was implemented and is briefly described.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, User-network interaction, Network interface design, Cognitive model, Task analysis, Consistency, Network-oriented tasks
User-Competence and Other Usability Aspects when Introducing a Patient Administrative System: A Case Study BIBAK 167-191
  Carl Martin Allwood; Tomas Kalen
An empirical study of a development project implementing a patient administrative system at a major hospital is reported. An analysis is made of the training given to the end-users and how this was affected by the events in the project. The results show how usability aspects such as user-competence are affected by a number of different factors in the project. The most important of these are deficiencies in the contract between the delivering consultant and the health authority, delays in the delivery of the program and the manual, and a lack of concern in the project for software usability aspects. For example, the contract between the delivering consultant and the health authority did not include any agreement about responsibility for usability aspects, and the delays in the project caused difficulties for user training. The results show a number of deficiencies in the training, for example: very little training material was given to the trainees and the computer exercises were not closely related to the trainees' future work tasks. We believe that future implementations of patient administrative programs will be more successful if the deficiencies found in the project studied are avoided.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Usability, System development process, User testing, End-user training, Patient administrative systems

Special Issue on CSCW: Part 3

Interpersonal Communication and Human-Computer Interaction: An Examination of the Use of Computers in Medical Consultations BIBAK 193-216
  David Greatbatch; Paul Luff; Christian Heath; Peter Campion
The paper examines the relationship between human-computer interaction and interpersonal communication in general practice consultations. Drawing on detailed analyses of video recordings of consultations conducted by four doctors in an inner city medical practice, we describe how patients recurrently coordinate their actions with visible and audible aspects of the doctors' use of a computer. We then suggest that this linkage between computer use and communicative conduct raises important conceptual, methodological and substantive issues for the fields of both HCI and CSCW. Some potential implications for the design of human computer interactions and for the development of CSCW systems are outlined.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-supported cooperative work, Interpersonal communication, Conversation analysis
From Rooms to Cyberspace: Models of Interaction in Large Virtual Computer Spaces BIBAK 217-237
  Steve Benford; Adrian Bullock; Neil Cook; Paul Harvey; Rob Ingram; Ok-Ki Lee
Room metaphors have become increasingly popular as a basis for CSCW systems. The paper describes how such metaphors might be extended to support large scale communication through the introduction of a spatial model for mediating conversations in virtual computer spaces. The model is described in terms of an abstract mathematical framework and the paper then outlines how this might be applied to various kinds of CSCW system. As a next step, the combination of rooms into larger virtual structures is considered and this results in proposals for structuring, navigating and mapping a large virtual cyberspace for cooperation. Finally, the paper describes a current prototype application and reflects on some of the architectural issues involved in its realisation as a distributed system.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-supported cooperative work
Designing with Ethnography: Making Work Visible BIBAK 239-253
  John A. Hughes; Ian Sommerville; Richard Bentley; Dave Randall
The paper reviews some aspects of a research project in which ethnographic studies of air traffic controllers at work were used to inform the design of an electronic flight strip. In particular, it emphasises the important role of ethnography in gaining an insight into the fine grained and often 'invisible' aspects of work which are essential to its accomplishment and which must be taken account of in the design process. The paper also reviews some of the practical lessons of interdisciplinary working and the role, along with some limitations, that ethnographic studies can play in the system design process.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer-supported cooperative work, Ethnography

IWC 1993 Volume 5 Issue 3

Approaches to Interface Design BIBAK 259-278
  Michael D. Wallace; Terry J. Anderson
The current literature on interface design is reviewed. Four major approaches to interface design are identified; craft, cognitive engineering, enhanced software engineering and technologist. The aim of this classification framework is not to split semantic hairs, but to provide a comprehensive overview of a complex field and to clarify some of the issues involved. The paper goes on to discuss the source of quality in interface design and concludes with some recommendations on how to improve HCI methods.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interface design, Craft, Cognitive engineering, Enhanced software engineering, Technologist
User Interface Design for Medical Imaging Workstations: Image Display and Processing BIBAK 279-294
  Jim C. Gee; Woodrow Barfield; David R. Haynor; Yongmin Kim
Conventional diagnostic protocols in radiological viewing require the availability of a large display space, as exemplified by the film alternator (or lightbox). However, the recent trend in medical imaging workstation design is the use of relatively small display screens to present radiological images. In the study, the efficacy of an alternator-filmstrip metaphor for navigating through and displaying the images of a patient study is evaluated. The metaphor relies on the availability of a 'pictorial directory' and accommodates the concurrent display of a variable number of images on the screen. In addition the study also evaluated the utility of two commonly available operations for manipulating the appearance of an image: contrast enhancement and image magnification. The study consisted of two experimental variables: availability of a pictorial directory (yes, no) and number of concurrently displayed images (1, 2, or 4). Twelve radiologists viewed two sets of X-ray computed tomography (CT) studies for each of the six treatment conditions and were asked to record an interpretation for each study. Results indicate that interpretations using the two-image display formats took the least amount of time per study, whereas the single-image format with access to the pictorial directory required the longest mean interpretation time. The image magnification capability was generally not found to be useful for image interpretation, whereas the contrast manipulation operations were judged extremely helpful. Implications of the results for medical imaging workstation design are discussed.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, User interface design, Medical imaging, Across-display processing
Patterns of Students' Interactions with a Hypermedia System BIBAK 295-313
  G. A. Hutchings; W. Hall; C. J. Colbourn
A hypermedia system was introduced into an undergraduate biology curriculum in order to investigate the patterns of students' interaction with, and attitudes to such a system, both to develop the interface of the system itself, and to provide objective means of describing its usage in a real learning situation. This was seen as a prerequisite to any evaluation of actual learning outcomes. The paper describes the development process which involved not only the evolution of the system itself, but the construction and implementation of assessment tools. The use of these tools enabled the authors to draw a number of conclusions about the patterns of interaction that students demonstrated when given various learning tasks to carry out. Interactions were seen to be driven primarily by the task, rather than by any individual preferences on the part of the users. It is suggested that this may have important implications for the knowledge that users gain from hypermedia systems.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Hypermedia, Navigation, Education
MOG User Interface Builder: A Mechanism for Integrating Application and User Interface BIBAK 315-331
  Andy Colebourne; Peter Sawyer; Ian Sommerville
Tools which provide graphical editing techniques for the design of user interface presentations are increasingly commonplace. Such tools vary widely in the mechanisms used to define user interfaces and while some are general purpose, others are targeted at particular application domains. Designers faced with varying requirements must choose one tool and live with its shortcomings, purchase a number of different tools, or implement their own. The paper describes an approach to facilitating the latter by providing a library of augmented user interface components called MOG objects which embody both end-user and editing semantics. User interface design tools based on this approach need only provide mechanisms for composing MOG objects into user interfaces and the addition of any other, higher-level functionality. MOG-based user interfaces retain an in-built editing capability and are inherently tailorable.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interface, Graphic user interface builder, User interface prototyping, Tailorability
On Distinguishing Work Tasks and Enabling Tasks BIBAK 333-347
  Andy Whitefield; Anthony Esgate; Ian Denley; Paul Byerley
Which behaviours of an interactive work system perform the work that the system was designed to do? And what do the other behaviours do? The idea of distinguishing work tasks and enabling tasks is presented. Suggestions are made on how to distinguish them, based on a conception for human-computer interaction. Suggestions are also made as to how the ideas may be useful in the design of interactive work systems. The ideas are illustrated by the analysis of some actual user-computer interactions in the domain of text editing.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Task analysis, Work domain, Work tasks, Enabling tasks
Sublanguages and Registers: A Note on Terminology BIBAK 348-350
  Jussi Karlgren
The term sublanguage from mathematical linguistics confuses interaction researchers and leads them to believe that implementing natural language interfaces is easier than it is. The term register from sociolinguistics is proposed instead.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Natural language, Interfaces, Sublanguage, Register

IWC 1993 Volume 5 Issue 4

Assessment of the Minimalist Approach to Computer User Documentation BIBAK 355-370
  Hans van der Meij; Ard W. Lazonder
The minimalist approach (Carroll, 1990a) advocates the development of a radically different type of manual when compared to a conventional one. For example, the manual should proceed almost directly to procedural skills development rather than building a conceptual model first. It ought to focus on authentic tasks practiced in context, as opposed to mock exercises and isolated practice. In addition, it should stimulate users to exploit their knowledge and thinking, as opposed to imposing the writer's view and discussing everything that users should see or know.
   In the first part of the paper the construction of a tutorial based on the minimalist principles is described. A parallel is drawn with constructivism with which minimalism shares important notions of instruction. In the second part, an experiment is described in which the minimal manual was tested against a conventional one. The outcome favoured the new manual. For example, minimal manual users completed about 50% more tasks successfully on a performance test and displayed significantly more self-reliance (e.g. more self-initiated error-recoveries, and fewer manual consultations).
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Documentation, User manuals
Hypertext and Expert Systems: The Possibilities for Integration BIBAK 371-384
  Pauline A. Smith; John R. Wilson
Expert systems are knowledge-based reasoning systems which attempt to capture the expertise and problem-solving abilities of a human expert within a fairly narrow field. Human problem-solving is characterised by the ability to handle unexpected events and to approach problems in a variety of ways, reorganizing information and adjusting strategies to suit new situations. Hypertext systems are also knowledge-based systems in which chunks of information are linked together in a non-sequential way thus providing the vehicle for intuitive, non-linear access to information which more closely resembles intelligent human behaviour. From these descriptions it would seem that the integration of these two complementary technologies should lead to more 'intelligent' problem-solving and information systems. The aim of such integration being to maximize joint performance and to achieve synergy -- an integrated system which is greater than the sum of its parts.
   Hypertext can be viewed in two ways: as a method of conveying information or as a 'system glue' for linking computer systems to each other or to a user. These approaches give rise to very different types of system and three distinct types of hybrid hypertext/expert system are identified. The paper considers whether such hybrid systems can be used to solve some of the problems which are found to occur with expert system interfaces or whether the combination of two technologies compounds one set of problems with another.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Knowledge-based systems, Hypertext
Supporting the Use of Guidelines and Style Guides in Professional User Interface Design BIBAK 385-396
  Jonas Lowgren; Ulrika Lauren
The use of user-interface design knowledge such as general guidelines and environment-specific style guides can be valuable, and is increasingly required in professional user-interface design. However, conventional guidelines and style guides (GL and SG) in the form of documents are consistently found hard to use. We have earlier demonstrated knowledge-based critiquing to be a technically feasible way of delivering relevant GL and SG knowledge. The purpose of this study was to investigate the need and acceptability of such techniques for professional user-interface designers.
   An experiment was carried out where four professional designers developed user-interface prototypes to a functional specification. The designs were evaluated using our GL and SG-based critiquing system, which identified a total of 17 deviations from style-guide requirements or design recommendations. Interviews were conducted with the designers to find the reasons for the deviations and to identify important requirements for a critiquing design-support tool. The deviation analysis points to an existing need for better ways of accessing GL and SG knowledge. The interviews indicate that the designers would find a critiquing tool valuable, provided that it leaves them in control of their work and indicates the severity of the detected deviations.
Keywords: Human computer interaction, Interfaces, Interface design, Style guides
Influence, Discretion and Time Available: A Case Study of HCI Practice in Software Development BIBAK 397-411
  Nick P. Rousseau; Linda Candy; Ernest A. Edmonds
In the field of human-computer interaction, reports of the involvement of its practitioners in system development projects are rarely available for general scrutiny. The paper draws upon the experience of an HCI team at work within a large collaborative software development project. This experience of four years of HCI practice suggests three key, interdependent, factors that are central to the effectiveness of HCI input. The factors are influence, discretion and time available, and are discussed in the context of other report, of the role of HCI practitioners in the field. A number of issues are identified about the nature and scope of HCI in practice. The experience reported is relevant to software development in general, particularly where there are several groups working, sometimes in different sites, towards a unified outcome.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Software development, Multidisciplinary projects, HCI practice
Where Should a Public Access Health Information System be Sited? BIBAK 413-421
  R. B. Jones; E. Edgerton; I. Baxter; L. M. Naven; J. Ritchie; G. Bell; K. Murray
The use of a touch-screen public access health information system was evaluated by monitoring system usage, by interviews with an opportunistic sample of 90 users and by other surveys.
   To get the largest number of users, such a system needs to be sited in a highly visible setting where there are lots of people passing. For most people, privacy does not appear to be a problem. However, some groups may require more privacy and when siting in 'quieter' places, such as a library this may be more important than in busier anonymous places, or in places where health is a 'natural' topic of interest. Waiting rooms may not be the best sites.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Public access computing, Health information, Privacy, Touch-screen
Practical User Interface Design Notation BIBAK 423-438
  Peter Windsor; Graham Storrs
A notation for describing user interfaces has been developed which offers the benefits of being theoretically well-founded and reasonably formal while at the same time being of practical use in an industrial software design environment. The notation is based on a five-layer model of interface software derived from user interface management system and window management work, and is, essentially, a state-transitional approach to the description of interfaces and their behaviour. A short example of the use of the notation is given and its strengths and weaknesses are discussed.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interfaces, Notation


In Defense of Sublinguistics BIBAK 439-440
  Ave Wrigley
The paper is a response to the argument presented by Jussi Karlgren that the term sublanguage involves a potentially damaging misunderstanding in human computer interaction research. The use of the term in the context of a mathematical concept of language as a set is defended. The definition of language in terms of probability and the use of domain context to condition probabilities is suggested as a refinement to this concept.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Sublanguage, Register
Sublanguage, Register and Natural Language Interfaces BIBAK 441-444
  Norman M. Fraser
The paper is a commentary on Karlgren (1993) which proposed the term 'register' as a substitute for the term 'sublanguage' in relation to the study of natural language interfaces. The author proposes that this substitution is inappropriate for several reasons. First, the term 'sublanguage' has many meanings and cannot be restricted to the mathematical definition as Karlgren proposes. Second, terms in natural language will always be loosely defined because that is their intrinsic nature. Third, register is not a well-defined sociolinguistic term as Karlgren suggests. Finally the author offers an alternative description of what a natural language 'sublanguage' is.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interfaces, Natural language interfaces, Sublanguage, Register