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Interacting with Computers 8

Editors:Dan Diaper
Publisher:Elsevier Science
Standard No:ISSN 0953-5438
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IWC 1996 Volume 8 Issue 1
  2. IWC 1996 Volume 8 Issue 2
  3. IWC 1996 Volume 8 Issue 3
  4. IWC 1996 Volume 8 Issue 4

IWC 1996 Volume 8 Issue 1


A Goal Satisfied: Rapid Journal Publication BIB 3-6
  Dan Diaper
Effect of Grading Schemes on Outcomes in Query Writing Experiments BIBAK 7-12
  Hock Chuan Chan; Kwok Kee Wei
There have been many experiments comparing query languages. Their findings are difficult to combine as the experiments have used different settings and procedures. Before a meta-analysis combining the experiments, it is proposed that these differences be checked for any possible effect. The most important measure of user performance in these experiments is query accuracy, which has been determined using many different grading schemes. The different schemes are therefore checked for possible effects on hypothesis rejection. These grading schemes are applied to two sets of queries from two different experiments. The outcomes are examined to identify any effects resulting from the grading schemes. The results show that the experimental outcomes are robust and immune to the grading schemes.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Query languages, Grading schemes
Comparison of Input Devices in an ISEE Direct Timbre Manipulation Task BIBAK 13-30
  Roel Vertegaal; Barry Eaglestone
The representation and manipulation of sound within multimedia systems is an important and currently under-researched area. The paper gives an overview of the authors' work on the direct manipulation of audio information, and describes a solution based upon the navigation of four-dimensional scaled timbre spaces. Three hardware input devices were experimentally evaluated for use in a timbre space navigation task: the Apple Standard Mouse, Gravis Advanced Mousestick II joystick (absolute and relative) and the Nintendo Power Glove. Results show that the usability of these devices significantly affected the efficacy of the system, and that conventional low-cost, low-dimensional devices provided better performance than the low-cost, multidimensional dataglove.
Keywords: Human-synthesizer interaction, Direct manipulation, Auditory perception
Structured Task Analysis: An Instantiation of the MUSE Method for Usability Engineering BIBAK 31-50
  Kee Yong Lim
The paper addresses the following criticisms of task analysis: its requirement for an existing system; its focus on analysis rather than design; its limited scope within the design cycle; its underspecification of the application domain; and its inadequate documentation of design outputs. Such criticisms constitute problems for the application of task analysis for design specification (as opposed to design evaluation).
   Solutions to these problems have emerged indirectly from the development of a structured method intended to rectify the typically late involvement of human factors in system development, e.g., only at the evaluation stage. The paper describes how task analysis has been extended, structured and incorporated explicitly throughout the design cycle in the MUSE method for usability engineering.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Task analysis, Structured analysis and design method
Intelligent Adaptive Assistance and its Automatic Generation BIBAK 51-68
  Harold Thimbleby; Mark Addison
Manuals and interactive help are tedious to provide, difficult to maintain, and difficult to ensure that they remain correct, even for simple systems. The result is a loss in product quality, felt particularly by users and designers committed to long-term product development.
   The paper shows that it is possible to systematically put a system specification and its documentation into exact correspondence. It follows that much previously manual work can be done automatically and with considerable advantages, including guaranteed correctness and completeness, as well as supporting powerful new features such as intelligent adaptive assistance. This paper shows how interactive assistance can be provided to answer 'how to?', 'why not?' and other questions.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Help, User manuals
Requirements for Graphical User Interface Development Environments for Groupware BIBAK 69-88
  Reza Hazemi; Linda Macaulay
Most user interface designers are conversant with graphical user interface (GUI) tools such as Motif and Presentation Manager which provide 'widgets' and other facilities for building user interfaces. Such GUI tools were developed primarily for building interfaces to single-user systems. The purpose of the paper is to present the result of research into the requirements for GUI tools for multi-user systems. Many of the requirements of single and multi-user GUIs are the same, for example, usability and flexibility. A number of new widgets are needed for multi-user GUIs, for example, shared scroll-bars and multi-user telepointers. The requirements are divided into three groups based on three sources of requirements: literature, user survey and widgets.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interfaces, Groupware
Delivering Cognitive Psychology to HCI: The Problems of Common Language and of Knowledge Transfer BIBA 89-111
  T. R. G. Green; S. P. Davies; D. J. Gilmore
Although cognitive psychology showed much initial promise, it has failed to make significant contributions to the study of human-computer interaction, which has led to a rejection of cognitivism in favour of situated action theory. The authors accept that the critique has much to offer, but reject the outright abandoning of cognitivism. Cognitive psychology needs a common language in which to describe interaction between people and artifacts: two examples of research in progress are described, one focused on events, the other on representations and the relationship between the information display and the conceptual model. Cognitive psychology also needs a better delivery method than the traditional research paper, and the idea is proposed of a vocabulary of 'cognitive dimensions', terms which can be meaningfully used by non-specialists (who will recognise familiar but uncrystallised concepts) and which can be used as indexes to the professional literature. These two components form a proposal for improving the effectiveness of cognitive psychology. The paper ends with the hope that mainstream cognitive psychology will broaden its area of enquiry.
An Analysis of User Interface Design Projects: Information Sources and Constraints in Design BIBAK 112-116
  M. M. Bekker; A. P. O. S. Vermeeren
To provide input for the development of user interface design support the authors distributed questionnaires to people involved in the development of user interfaces in The Netherlands. They studied the background and experience of designers of user interfaces, the contexts in which they worked, the design support they currently used and what new or improved design support they would need. The results indicated two areas that require further study: how to gather information about users and applications. When developing design support for these areas it might be useful to take into account the finding that designers work in a wide range of design practices, each with their own constraints on interface design practice.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Interface design, Design practice

IWC 1996 Volume 8 Issue 2

The Identifiability of Auditory Icons for Use in Educational Software for Children BIBAK 121-133
  Julie A. Jacko
The research explored how subjects in grade 1 (6-7 years old) and grade 3 (8-9 years old) identify auditory icons that are commonly introduced in educational software applications. The subjects were required to identify 37 auditory icons by specifying two dimensions: the object associated with producing the sound and the action which could be causing the sound. It was hypothesized that the ecological frequency versus relative uniqueness feature would be more salient for third-graders. Thus, they would be better equipped to identify the auditory cues than the first-graders. The results indicated that the third-grade subjects were better equipped to identify auditory cues based upon two dimensions of interest than the first-grade subjects. This information is useful for interface designers incorporating auditory icons into educational software for children at various developmental levels. Suggestions for future research are provided.
Keywords: Educational software, Auditory icons
Formal Framework and Necessary Properties of the Fusion of Input Modes in User Interfaces BIBAK 134-161
  G. Faconti; M. Bordegoni; K. Kansy; P. Trahanias; T. Rist; M. Wilson
Multiple input devices are increasingly used in user interfaces to make human computer communication more efficient and effective. Interface designers have not only to decide on which input modes should be supported, but also how to fuse them into a single representation format that can be processed by the underlying application system. Drawing appropriate decisions requires, however, a sufficient understanding of the properties of fusion itself. While others have informally characterized input fusion as a transformation between information types, the purpose of the paper is to explore fusion by means of formal process modelling. That is, fusion processes are defined in a formal framework which supports proof of the existence of necessary properties following directly from the process definitions. The presented approach can be applied to analyse and compare fusion processes in existing systems, as well as an aid for interface designers, who have to verify the behaviour of their systems.
Keywords: Multimodal interfaces, Fusion, Formal methods, Ambiguity


Cognitive and Educational Aspects of Desktop Videoconferencing (Part 1) BIB 163-165
  Terry Mayes; Sandra Foubister

Cognitive and Educational Aspects of Desktop Videoconferencing (Part 1)

The Role of the Face in Communication: Implications for Videophone Design BIBAK 166-176
  Vicki Bruce
The different uses made of information from the face in social interaction are reviewed. Also considered are what image quality, resolution and synchrony are likely to be needed in order for such information to be usable when face-to-face interaction is achieved via video. It is argued that for most uses which are made of facial information, dramatic reductions in spatial and pixel resolution of images can be tolerated. However, temporal information is likely to be much more crucial for communication efficiency.
Keywords: Face perception, Video-mediated communication, Non-verbal communication
Comparison of Face-to-Face and Video-Mediated Interaction BIBAK 177-192
  Claire O'Malley; Steve Langton; Anne Anderson; Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon; Vicki Bruce
A series of experiments are reported in which pairs of subjects performed a collaborative task remotely and communicated either via video and audio links or audio links only. Using the same task (the 'map task'), Boyle et al. (1994) found clear benefits of seeing the face compared with audio-only co-present interaction. Pairs who could see each other needed to say less to achieve the same level of performance as pairs who could only hear each other. In contrast to these findings, in all three experiments reported here, users of video links produced longer and more interrupted dialogues than those who had audio links only, although there were no differences in performance. Performance was affected when the video links were of low bandwidth, resulting in transmission delays. The drop in accuracy was correlated with a significant increase in levels of interrupted speech. We also compared the structure of dialogues and the use of gaze in high-quality video-mediated communication with those produced in face-to-face co-present interactions. Results show that both face-to-face and video-mediated speakers use visual cues to check for mutual understanding. When they cannot see each other such checks need to be conducted verbally, accounting for the length effect in dialogues. However, despite using visual cues in the same way as face-to-face speakers, video does not provide the same advantage of shorter and less interrupted dialogues. In addition, users of video gaze far more overall than face-to-face speakers. We suggest that when speakers are not physically co-present they are less confident in general that they have mutual understanding, even though they can see their interlocutors, and therefore over-compensate by increasing the level of both verbal and nonverbal information.
Keywords: Computer-supported cooperative work, Video-mediated communication, Video conferencing
Impact of Video-Mediated Communication on Simulated Service Encounters BIBAK 193-206
  Anne H. Anderson; Alison Newlands; Jim Mullin; Anne Marie Fleming; Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon; Jeroen Van der Velden
The results are reported of three studies of collaborative problem-solving in a simulated travel agency where communication between travel agent and customers is supported by a videolink and shared multimedia tools. The video-mediated contexts (VMCs) were compared with face-to-face and audio-only interactions in terms of the success of the task outcome, the process of communication and decision making and user satisfaction. VMC did not deliver the same benefits as face-to-face interactions. The possible reasons for this are explored as well as the implications of the data for evaluation techniques.
Keywords: Video-mediated communication, Computer-supported cooperative work, Dialogue analysis
Videoconferencing in a Language Learning Application BIBAK 207-217
  Patrick McAndrew; Sandra P. Foubister; Terry Mayes
Can videoconferencing substitute for face-to-face contact sufficiently well for collaborative task-based learning to take place at a distance? The paper reports on the use of videoconferencing in the context of remote users' learning of a foreign language. Video-mediated communication was placed at the centre of an integrated system for the learning of business French, and students used it in performing collaborative role-plays, leading to the joint enactment of a communication task (such as the setting up of a subsidiary company in the Nord Pas de Calais). Observations of the system in real use are reported, and some positive conclusions are drawn about the potential role of videoconferencing in language learning.
Keywords: Collaborative task-based learning, Videoconferencing

IWC 1996 Volume 8 Issue 3

Documenting the Design of Safety-Critical, User Interfaces BIBAK 221-239
  Chris Johnson
A number of techniques have been developed to map out the 'design space' of interactive systems. For instance, design rationale notations represent the various options that must be considered during interface development. Such notations offer important benefits. For instance, they can be shown to regulatory authorities to demonstrate that sufficient attention has been paid to particular design issues. Unfortunately, these notations are semi-formal. This leads to a number of weaknesses. They cannot be used to determine whether criteria and options have been used consistently during the development of an interactive system. Nor do they provide any procedures to determine whether interface design decisions have indeed been guided by a rationale. These are important limitations when regulatory authorities, such as the UK Health and Safety Executive, expect designers to demonstrate the consistency and coherence of their decisions. This paper addresses these problems and shows how decision theory can be employed to support design rationale during the development of human computer interfaces for safety-critical systems.
Keywords: Safety-critical interfaces, Design rationale, Decision theory
Information Technology Support for Shared Task Performance within an Office Environment BIBAK 241-252
  S. R. Jones; P. J. Thomas
Professional efficacy is strongly influenced by the quality and quantity of relevant and accessible information. This in turn is frequently dependent upon interaction with colleagues. The paper describes an investigation into the use of information and the ways in which individuals manage information in office environments. The study was conducted to inform the development of devices which support office-based information management, and looks in detail at the information exchange and information management activities which take place between managers and their personal assistants (PAs). The focus of the study was to determine the extent to which these professionals share a common understanding of frequently-performed and ubiquitous office tasks. As many information and communication devices are intended to augment information management and information exchange, it is suggested that understanding how workers jointly perceive tasks will be useful in the design and development of those devices. Initial findings of the study indicate that there is considerable variation in the interpretation and understanding of a number of everyday office activities, and that this should be reflected in the design of devices which seek to incorporate facilities for information management and exchange.
Keywords: Interpersonal communication, Information management, Information exchange


Cognitive and Educational Aspects of Desktop Videoconferencing (Part 2) BIB 253-254
  Terry Mayes; Sandra Foubister

Cognitive and Educational Aspects of Desktop Videoconferencing (Part 2)

Evaluating Audio and Video Quality in Low-Cost Multimedia Conferencing Systems BIBAK 255-275
  Anna Watson; Martina Angela Sasse
Real-time audio and video transmission over shared packet networks, such as the Internet, has become possible thanks to efficient data compression schemes and the provision of high-speed networks. Low-cost multimedia conferencing technology could benefit many users in different areas, such as remote collaboration, distance education and health-care. It is likely that diverse tasks performed by users in different application domains will require different levels of audio and video quality. Established methods of rating audio and video quality in the broadcast and telephony world cannot be applied to digital, lower quality images and sound. The providers of networks and services are looking to HCI to provide a means of assessing audio and video quality. The paper describes two different approaches to assessing audio and video of desktop conferencing systems -- a controlled experimental study and an informal field trial. The advantages and disadvantages of both approaches for providing task-specific quality assessment are discussed, and future work to integrate lab-based and field trials into a valid and reliable assessment approach is outlined.
Keywords: Multimedia conferencing, Internet conferencing, Quality assessment methods
Informal Communication is about Sharing Objects in Media BIBAK 277-283
  Judith Ramsay; Alessandro Barabesi; Jenny Preece
The paper focuses upon informal communication over desktop video-conferencing software. Evidence is presented in support of video providing some form of shared perspective (otherwise known as the 'video-as-data' hypothesis) and questions are raised about users' media-coupling activities in an informal context. It is anticipated that further insight has been gained into the nature of informal mediated communication, and consequently the requirements of supporting technologies.
Keywords: Computer-mediated communication, Desktop video-conferencing, Media-coupling
Real-Time Interactivity on the SuperJANET Network BIBAK 285-296
  D. G. Jameson; M. Hobsley; P. O'Hanlon; S. Buckton
The experience of using the SuperJANET (ATM) asynchronous transfer mode video network for teaching surgery to undergraduates is reported, and the requirements for teaching and conferencing are contrasted. The network is used to link six UK University Medical Schools to deliver an 18-session course three times per year. Each session is designed to be a multimedia presentation encouraging students to interact with each other and with the lecturer.
   The paper is divided into three sections; the first describing the nature of the network, the second the discussing technical and pedagogical matters concerning interaction on the network, and the third drawing attention to the need to give special attention to audiovisual matters if the best quality of video and audio is to be achieved on the network. The signals originate in the teaching space in analogue format and on reaching the CODEC are digitised and passed over the distance network using ATM technology. This requires the collaboration of both the AV personnel with their expertise in analogue video, and the network support personnel to handle the digital signal transmission.
   The problems discussed include the handling of echo, which is induced as a result of the compression and decompression of the video signal, and the control of network switching of incoming video signals in the interaction between students and lecturers. Attention is also drawn to the differences between videoconferencing and video teaching. An example is described of how a site which is not part of the SuperJANET ATM video network is included in the collaborative teaching using a different technology. Finally there is a need to integrate the real-time teaching with self-learning, so network resources have been implemented to support both live teaching and CAL (computer aided learning).
   Changes have been made in the way teaching is carried out as a result of the feedback from both students and teachers. The solutions and changes are usually the results of compromise between what the teachers would prefer and the functionality of the network. The experience of television production has had a major impact on the way interactivity has been established in the network teaching environment.
   The control and monitoring of the audio and video signals, and the use of echo cancellers in multipoint network configurations is discussed. UKERNA has set up the Audio-Visual Consultancy to look into this matter.
Keywords: Multimedia presentations, High performance networks, Real time interactivity

IWC 1996 Volume 8 Issue 4

A Visual Approach to Versioning for Text Co-Authoring BIBAK 299-310
  Jose A. Pino
A way to present alternative pieces of text in multi-author documents is discussed. It is called 'Stick-On' and allows an unlimited number of versions of paragraphs, sentences, words or characters to be considered in the context of the rest of the article. The device is well-suited for collaborative co-authoring. A distributed system incorporating this tool is presented.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Computer supported co-operative work, Collaborative writing
Interaction of Screen Distances, Screen Letter Heights and Source Document Distances BIBAK 311-322
  Leah K. Hennings; Nong Ye
An experiment was conducted to investigate the main and interaction effects of screen distances (600 mm and 900 mm), screen letter heights (for visual angles of 16, 20, and 30 minutes of arc), and source document distances (same as the screen distance and closer than the screen distance) on visual performance and subjective preference in text proofreading tasks. Thirty subjects in different age groups participated in the experiment. The experimental results revealed that the subjects' performance improved from the letter height of 16 minutes of arc to the letter height of 20 minutes of arc for the 600 mm screen distance, but from 20 minutes of arc to 16 minutes of arc for the 900 mm screen distance. The subjects generally preferred a screen distance slightly higher than 600 mm, a letter height at the 22 minutes of arc, and a small difference between the visual angle of screen letters and the visual angle of source letters.
Keywords: Ergonomics, Visual display units, Screen settings
Investigation of Voice and Text Output Modes with Abstraction in a Computer Interface BIBAK 323-345
  N. P. Archer; M. M. Head; J. P. Wollersheim; Y. Yuan
A human-computer interface is described, which was designed to study user preferences and the effectiveness of output modes and levels of information abstraction in a decision making environment. The interface was tested in an exploratory study of an apartment selection problem. It was observed that text plus voice was preferred over voice alone, but there was no significant difference in preferences between text and voice or between text and text plus voice. This indicates that adding text to voice output improves the perceived acceptability of voice, but adding voice to text does not alter the perceived acceptability of text. The text mode was most efficient in performing information search, followed by voice mode and text plus voice mode in that order. We observed inconsistencies between the users' perceived importance of information attributes and the actual usage of these attributes, and inconsistencies between the perceived importance of and the usage of abstraction levels. We did not observe significant differences between users with task domain experience and those which did not have domain experience, but cognitive style did affect task performance. Our findings suggest that a user interface should either provide flexible access at different abstraction levels, or should organize information based on its perceived importance to the user rather than its level of abstraction.
Keywords: Interfaces, Output modes
Triadic Relationship between Doctor, Computer and Patient BIBAK 347-363
  Derek Scott; Ian N. Purves
Much has previously been said regarding dyadic relationships between physician and patient, use of computers in the consulting room, and human-computer interaction generally. The paper reviews major empirical reports and places them within a triadic framework. A model is presented suggesting that much of the dynamic interaction along any one of the 'three sides of the triangle' is lost without consideration of how the third component, the opposite apex, affects the otherwise two-way relationship. As the use of micro-computers within general practice continues to increase, it would appear important to consider all three interacting components when investigating doctor-patient relationships.
Keywords: Doctor-patient relationship, Computers in medicine
Towards a Practical Measure of Hypertext Usability BIBAK 365-381
  Pauline A. Smith
Disorientation or the sense of being 'lost' in an information space has long been held as a major drawback of hypertext systems. However, the usability of hypertext systems has been difficult to evaluate as the commonly used human-computer interaction measures based on time and errors seem inappropriate for hypertext systems which, by their nature, encourage exploration and browsing. A set of measures are proposed for assessing the usability of hypertext systems in terms of the efficiency with which users find information in a hypertext system; the degree to which users become 'lost' in the information space; and how confident they are in their ability to find relevant information. In particular, various path measures are defined, from which indicators and 'ratings' of users' lostness, efficiency and confidence when using a hypertext system are derived. An initial experimental evaluation of the measures is described in which observations were made of the 'success' of the searches and of the routes which were taken by the users while carrying out specified tasks. A discussion of the method by which the measures were calibrated using both an attitudinal study and the verbal and video protocols recorded as part of the experiment is presented. Results from an independent experimental study are also briefly discussed. Finally, an analysis is offered of the situations in which these measures may be appropriate.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction, Hypertext, Usability