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Interacting with Computers 15

Editors:Dianne Murray
Publisher:Elsevier Science
Standard No:ISSN 0953-5438
Links:Table of Contents
  1. IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 1
  2. IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 2
  3. IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 3
  4. IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 4
  5. IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 5
  6. IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 6

IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 1

Intelligence and interaction in community-based systems (Part 2) BIB 1-3
  Kostas Stathis; Patrick Purcell
Agent mediated retailing in the connected local community BIBAK 5-32
  Mark Witkowski; Brendan Neville; Jeremy Pitt
This paper reports on and discusses recent research into software agent mediated retailing and considers how it may act as a catalyst to the formation of local electronic retail communities. Each member of the e-retail community has their own software agent that acts on their behalf. Their software agent acts as an electronic personal sales assistant (ePSA), interacting with the person and assisting with the selection and purchase of products. We consider issues that arise when each person can express their likes and dislikes for various aspects of the product range to their software agent, both in terms of the software agent's ability to serve them better, and how such preferences may be shared with others in the larger community to help them -- and others in the community -- make better and more informed choices. The investigations reported use the multimedia access through personal persistent agents (MAPPA) system, an experimental kiosk based e-retail system. MAPPA integrates a software agent based architecture, a novel form of product display and the use of an animated character agent to enhance the user's sense of personalisation.
   We report on user evaluation studies of the MAPPA system to investigate the effectiveness of the character agent as an interface to the e-retail system using both conventional usability evaluation techniques and eye-tracking technology. We also describe a simulation program that allows us to investigate the dynamics of e-retail community cohesion when a number of different parameters are considered, including the characteristics of the individual community members and the algorithms employed by the software agents to share information. Lastly, we develop and discuss notions of loyalty, trust, reputation and preference, four issues critical to the development and maintenance of the relationships between individual people, their personal software agents, businesses and the larger e-retail connected community. We propose these issues as 'supra-functional' criteria for human-computer interaction design in this area.
Keywords: Connected communities; Loyalty; Trust; Preference; Software agents; Electronic personal sales agents; Synthetic personae
Multi-agent systems support for Community-Based Learning BIBAK 33-55
  Yugyung Lee; Quddus Chong
Electronic distributed learning that overlooks the physical and geographic status of learners has become a reality. Moreover, its quality has been considerably improved by utilizing recent advances in web-based technology. Various electronic learning support systems such as Internet-based tutorials and Virtual Universities have appeared in different forms and reflect advances in technology. However, there remains a huge barrier to support the shareable and collaborative learning available through virtual communities. Our solution to these problems was to develop an educational middleware, called the Community-Based Learning (CoBL) framework whose goal is to: (a) adapt to the diverse requirements of learners; (b) support shareable and collaborative learning; and (c) be capable of facilitating distributed learning over the Internet. The CoBL framework is based on: (1) agents to manage individual learners and communities of learners; (2) a shared data model for integrating heterogeneous communities; and (3) a component-oriented development approach. We have implemented the CoBL prototype system and used it for community-based learning.
Keywords: Community-Based Learning; Adaptive and collaborative learning; Learning middleware; Multi-agent; Shared data model; Component oriented development
Using conversational agents to support the adoption of knowledge sharing practices BIBAK 57-89
  Claudia Roda; Albert Angehrn; Thierry Nabeth; Liana Razmerita
In this paper, we present an agent-based system designed to support the adoption of knowledge sharing practices within communities. The system is based on a conceptual framework that, by modelling the adoption of knowledge management practices as a change process, identifies the pedagogical strategies best suited to support users through the various stages of the adoption process. Learning knowledge management practices is seen as a continuous process, taking place at individual and social level that includes the acquisition of information, as well as the contextual use of the information acquired.
   The resulting community-based system provides each member of the community with an artificial personal change-management agent capable of guiding users in the acquisition and adoption of new knowledge sharing practices by activating personalised and contextualised intervention.
Keywords: Software agents; Knowledge sharing; Virtual communities; Knowledge management; Change management; User modelling
Adding cultural signposts in adaptive community-based virtual environments BIBAK 91-107
  Elaine M. Raybourn; Nicholas Kings; John Davies
This paper describes an experimental, adaptive community-based system, the Forum, designed to facilitate communication where there are mutual concerns or interests among virtual communities within or across organizations. Our description of the Forum is presented from the perspective of user-centered interaction design. The system consists of a WWW-based collaborative virtual environment comprised of intelligent software agents that support explicit information sharing, chance meetings, and real time informal communication. The Forum provided the technological support for users to interact informally, but lacked the social support necessary to motivate users to interact with strangers in their community of practice. Context, or the reasons why two persons might want to meet, was overlooked. We propose future directions for the Forum including cultural signposts that provide contextual cues in the intelligent community-based system to better support information sharing and real time communication between strangers. The contribution of the present paper is to provide lessons learned about design considerations from a series of user trials over a period of one year for developing adaptive community-based systems.
Keywords: Adaptive; Community-based system; Information sharing; Culture; Intelligent agents; Intercultural communication; Collaborative virtual environment; Interaction design
Designing interactive interfaces: theoretical consideration of the complexity of standards and guidelines, and the difference between evolving and formalised systems BIBAK 109-119
  Irma Alm
To design an interactive interface with communicative ability is a highly constrained, complex and difficult task. In the design process, a designer has to consider numerous principles, standards, and guidelines. It is impossible for a human being to consciously keep track of the interconnections between so many variables, or to calculate all the consequences that may emerge from putting all of the principles, standards, and guidelines together. This is often demonstrated in interaction with complex systems such as control rooms, surveillance systems, aeroplanes, especially when they display states (patterns) with which the user is not familiar. This is where the problems start. No artefact can display on its interface what has not been determined beforehand. If they could, it would mean that designers had the ability to predict all possible future states that the artefact may exhibit. As many complex artefacts function in a dynamic environment, it is simply impossible. There are two reasons why it is impossible to predict future states of a complex system, and hence to design communicative interfaces in an intelligible way. The first concerns the relationship between consciousness and the five omnipresent mental factors: contact, feeling, discernment, intention and attention. Secondly we note the essential difference between evolving and formalised communication systems: formalised systems are incapable of handling proliferating complexity, whereas proliferating complexity is a prerequisite for human development. Even though people appreciate natural complexity, which allows them to select and integrate information freely, they have difficulties in handling formalised complexity, which requires particular kinds of experience and logic. Hence, it is important to start a discussion about what kinds of formalised systems we should design. If we want to control systems, then they cannot be too complex, as we have difficulties coping with formalised complexity. If we want to create truly flexible systems, then we have to skip the control requirement.
Keywords: Interactive interfaces; Evolving systems; Formalised systems; Complexity; Situation awareness; Consciousness
The effects of movement of attractors and pictorial content of rewards on users' behaviour in virtual environments: an empirical study in the framework of perceptual opportunities BIBAK 121-140
  Clive Fencott; Paul van Schaik; Jonathan Ling; Mohammed Shafiullah
Technological developments in Virtual Reality (VR) appear to outpace progress in design methodology of VR. The theory of Perceptual Opportunities (POs) has previously been proposed as a basis of such a design methodology (Blade and Padgett, 2002). This paper presents the first empirical study investigating the effect of representation of POs on users' behaviour in Virtual Environments (VEs). The current study has a methodological focus, using POs as a framework and desktop VR as a experimental environment. The application of an experimental paradigm is illustrated with two experiments. Evidence was found for an effect of movement type on choice of objects in a simple VE. Implications for VE design and the methodology of empirical research in the framework of POs are discussed.
Keywords: Virtual environments; Perceptual opportunities; Cognitive psychology; Design

IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 2

Interaction design and children BIBAK 141-149
  Panos Markopoulos; Mathilde Bekker
This editorial paper introduces an emerging area for human-computer interaction research, which concerns interaction design and children. To avoid treating children as a homogeneous user group, it discusses some perspectives on their development, their use of technology for entertainment and education and, finally, how to involve children in the various stages of the design process.
Keywords: User-centred design; Children; Usability; Fun; User characteristics; Technology
The International Children's Digital Library: viewing digital books online BIBAK 151-167
  Juan Pablo Hourcade; Benjamin B. Bederson; Allison Druin; Anne Rose; Allison Farber; Yoshifumi Takayama
Reading books plays an important role in children's cognitive and social development. However, many children do not have access to diverse collections of books due to the limited resources of their community libraries. We have begun to address this issue by creating a large-scale digital archive of children's books, the International Children's Digital Library (ICDL). In this paper we discuss our initial efforts in building the ICDL, concentrating on the design of innovative digital book readers.
Keywords: Children; Digital libraries; Digital books; Cooperative inquiry; Book readers
Using 'tangibles' to promote novel forms of playful learning BIBAK 169-185
  S. Price; Y. Rogers; M. Scaife; D. Stanton; H. Neale
Tangibles, in the form of physical artefacts that are electronically augmented and enhanced to trigger various digital events to happen, have the potential for providing innovative ways for children to play and learn, through novel forms of interacting and discovering. They offer, in addition, the scope for bringing playfulness back into learning. To this end, we designed an adventure game, where pairs of children have to discover as much as they can about a virtual imaginary creature called the Snark, through collaboratively interacting with a suite of tangibles. Underlying the design of the tangibles is a variety of transforms, which the children have to understand and reflect upon in order to make the Snark come alive and show itself in a variety of morphological and synaesthesic forms. The paper also reports on the findings of a study of the Snark game and discusses what it means to be engrossed in playful learning.
Keywords: Children; Collaborative discovery; Interactive learning environments; Interaction with tangibles pervasive computing; Playful learning
KidReporter: a user requirements gathering technique for designing with children BIBAK 187-202
  Mathilde Bekker; Julie Beusmans; David Keyson; Peter Lloyd
This paper describes a design method, novel to the domain of interaction design, for gathering user requirements from children called the KidReporter method. The KidReporter method was chosen and further refined based on assumptions about User-Centred Design. The method was considered to be suitable and appealing for children in terms of participating in design. Two school classes participated in making a newspaper about a zoo, to gather requirements for the design process of an interactive educational game. The educational game was developed to educate children about animals while walking through a zoo. The KidReporter method's main strengths are that it combines many techniques for eliciting information from children, such as interviews, drawing and making pictures. In this paper we describe how the KidReporter method was applied, in what manner it was successful and what we would do differently next time.
Keywords: Children; Requirements; Educational games; User-centred design; Case study
Using peer tutoring in evaluating the usability of a physically interactive computer game with children BIBAK 203-225
  Johanna Hoysniemi; Perttu HAamalainen; Laura Turkki
This paper presents a novel approach to usability evaluation with children called peer tutoring. Peer tutoring means that children teach other children to use the software that is evaluated. The basic philosophy behind this is to view software as a part of child's play, so that the teaching process is analogous to explaining the rules of a game such as hide and seek. If the software is easy to teach and learn, it is more likely that the amount of users increases in a social setting such as a school. The peer tutoring approach provides information about teachability and learnability of software and it also promotes communication in the test situation, compared to a test person communicating with an adult instructor. The approach has been applied to the development of a perceptually interactive user interface in QuiQui's Giant Bounce, a physically and vocally interactive computer game for 4-9 year old children. The results and experiences of using peer tutoring are promising and it has proved to be effective in detecting usability flaws and in improving the design of the game.
Keywords: Children; Usability evaluation; Methodology; Peer tutoring; Perceptual user interface; Physical interaction
On the assessment of usability testing methods for children BIBAK 227-243
  Panos Markopoulos; Mathilde Bekker
The paper motivates the need to acquire methodological knowledge for involving children as test users in usability testing. It introduces a methodological framework for delineating comparative assessments of usability testing methods for children participants. This framework consists in three dimensions: (1) assessment criteria for usability testing methods, (2) characteristics describing usability testing methods and, finally, (3) characteristics of children that may impact upon the process and the result of usability testing. Two comparative studies are discussed in the context of this framework along with implications for future research.
Keywords: Usability testing; Children; Comparative studies; User-centred design; Framework
Symbiosis and synergy? scenarios, task analysis and reuse of HCI knowledge BIBAK 245-263
  Alistair Sutcliffe
This paper follows the scenarios and task models debate by reviewing the contributions of task modelling and scenario based approaches from a cognitive perspective. A framework of cognitive affordances is introduced to discuss the merits and limitations of each approach. An extension of the modelling theme, generic task models, is proposed to augment the contribution of knowledge reuse to the design process. The paper concludes by discussing how scenario based design might complement task analysis and reuse of task based knowledge.
Keywords: Scenarios; Task analysis; Cognitive affordances; Generic models; Knowledge reuse; Design process
Exploring the potential of unobtrusive proactive task support BIBAK 265-288
  Ji-Ye Mao; Y. W. Leung
This research concerns how to make task-related online resources accessible to users in a convenient manner in the context of work. It explores the potential of proactive but relatively unobtrusive task support: based on task progress, advice is displayed in separate and persistently present advice windows side-by-side to the Task Window, and the display is updated intermittently. The proposed approach is illustrated with a prototype, Telephone Triage Assistant (TTA), for supporting junior nurses' triage task. The usefulness and usability of TTA were assessed based on the results of an exploratory study at a medical call centre. Results show that subjects seemed to have spent a significant portion of the task time on TTA, and felt mostly positive about TTA. There was also a great deal of overlap between subjects' line of questioning and advice from TTA.
Keywords: System-initiated help; Proactive task support; Accessibility of online resources

IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 3

A Unifying Reference Framework for multi-target user interfaces BIBAK 289-308
  Gaelle Calvary; Joelle Coutaz; David Thevenin; Quentin Limbourg; Laurent Bouillon; Jean Vanderdonckt
This paper describes a framework that serves as a reference for classifying user interfaces supporting multiple targets, or multiple contexts of use in the field of context-aware computing. In this framework, a context of use is decomposed into three facets: the end users of the interactive system, the hardware and software computing platform with which the users have to carry out their interactive tasks and the physical environment where they are working. Therefore, a context-sensitive user interface is a user interface that exhibits some capability to be aware of the context (context awareness) and to react to changes of this context. This paper attempts to provide a unified understanding of context-sensitive user interfaces rather than a prescription of various ways or methods of tackling different steps of development. Rather, the framework structures the development life cycle into four levels of abstraction: task and concepts, abstract user interface, concrete user interface and final user interface. These levels are structured with a relationship of reification going from an abstract level to a concrete one and a relationship of abstraction going from a concrete level to an abstract one. Most methods and tools can be more clearly understood and compared relative to each other against the levels of this framework. In addition, the framework expresses when, where and how a change of context is considered and supported in the context-sensitive user interface thanks to a relationship of translation. In the field of multi-target user interfaces is also introduced, defined, and exemplified the notion of plastic user interfaces. These user interfaces support some adaptation to changes of the context of use while preserving a predefined set of usability properties.
Keywords: Context-aware computing; Context of use; Context-sensitive user interfaces; Model-based approach, Multi-platform user interfaces; Multi-target user interfaces; Plasticity of user interfaces
A tool-supported design framework for safety critical interactive systems BIBAK 309-328
  Remi Bastide; David Navarre; Philippe Palanque
This paper presents a design framework for safety critical interactive systems, based on a formal description technique called the ICO (Interactive Cooperative Object) formalism. ICO allows for describing, in a formal way, all the components of highly interactive (also called post-WIMP) applications. The framework is supported by a case tool called PetShop allowing for editing, verifying and executing the formal models. The first section describes why such user interfaces are challenging for most description techniques, as well as the state of the art in this field. Section 3 presents a development process dedicated to the framework. Then, we use a case study in order to recall the basic concepts of the ICO formalism and the recent extensions added in order to take into account post-WIMP interfaces' specificities. Section 5 presents the case tool PetShop and how the case study presented in the previous section has been dealt with. Lastly, we show how PetShop can be used for interactive prototyping.
Keywords: Interactive cooperative object; Interface; PetShop
Runtime transformations for modal independent user interface migration BIBAK 329-347
  Kris Luyten; Tom Van Laerhoven; Karin Coninx; Frank Van Reeth
The usage of computing systems has evolved dramatically over the last years. Starting from a low level procedural usage, in which a process for executing one or several tasks is carried out, computers now tend to be used in a problem oriented way. Future computer usage will be more centered around particular services, and will not be focused on platforms or applications. These services should be independent of the technology used to interact with them. In this paper an approach will be presented which provides a uniform interface to such services, without any dependence on modality, platform or programming language. Through the usage of general user interface descriptions, presented in XML, and converted using XSLT, a uniform framework is presented for runtime migration of user interfaces. As a consequence, future services will become easily extensible for all kinds of devices and modalities. Special attention goes out to a component-based software development approach. Services represented by and grouped in components can offer a special interface for modal- and device-independent rendering. Components become responsible for describing their own possibilities and constraints for interacting. An implementation serving as a proof of concept, a runtime conversion of a joystick in a 3D virtual environment into a 2D dialog-based user interface, is developed.
Keywords: User interface descriptions; Human-computer interaction; Extensible markup language; Extensible language transformation stylesheets
A unified method for designing interactive systems adaptable to mobile and stationary platforms BIBAK 349-366
  Fabio Paterno; Carmen Santoro
The wide variety of devices currently available, which is bound to increase in the coming years, poses a number of issues for the design cycle of interactive software applications. Model-based approaches can provide useful support in addressing this new challenge. In this paper we present and discuss a method for the design of nomadic applications showing how the use of models can support their design. The aim is to enable each interaction device to support the appropriate tasks users expect to perform and designers to develop the various device-specific application modules in a consistent manner.
Keywords: Model-based design; Multi-platform interactive systems; Context of use
Implementation of automated interaction design with collaborative models BIBAK 367-385
  Robin R. Penner; Erik S. Steinmetz
This paper summarizes the current status of an ongoing research program to explore automated alternatives to the current manual method of designing, implementing, and delivering user interfaces to complex digital control systems. Using examples from two implementations of the model-based interface automation approach that resulted from this research, we explore the models and collaboration required to perform on-demand user interface design. We first discuss the need for automation of the user interface design process and place the work into a research context. Using examples from two implemented systems, we then review the object-oriented models and processes that we used to support interaction design automation. Our findings support the application of model-based automated design approaches in digital control system domains, and particularly emphasize the need for rich semantic support for automated design.
Keywords: User interface design; Interaction design; Model-based automation; Interaction design automation
Hidden messages: evaluating the efficiency of code elision in program navigation BIBAK 387-407
  Andy Cockburn; Matthew Smith
Text elision is a user interface technique that aims to improve the efficiency of navigating through information by allowing regions of text to be 'folded' into and out of the display. Several researchers have argued that elision interfaces are particularly suited to source code editing because they allow programmers to focus on relevant code regions while suppressing the display of irrelevant information. Elision features are now appearing in commercial systems for software development. There is, however, a lack of empirical evidence of the technique's efficiency. This paper presents an empirical evaluation of source code elision using a Java program editor. The evaluation compared a normal 'flat text' editor with two versions that diminished elided text to levels that were 'just legible' and 'illegible'. Performance was recorded in four tasks involving navigation through programs. Results show that programmers were able to complete their tasks more rapidly when using the elision interfaces, particularly in larger program files. Although several participants indicated a preference for the just legible elision interface, performance was best with illegible elision.
Keywords: Text elision; Program navigation and visualisation; Fisheye views; Scrolling; User interface evaluation
What was I looking for? The influence of task specificity and prior knowledge on students' search strategies in hypertext BIBAK 409-428
  Jean-Francois Rouet
This study investigated the influence of task specificity and prior knowledge on university students' search strategies and incidental learning of a hypertext structure. Psychology and geography students were asked to search a hierarchical hypertext from each domain in order to answer four content-related questions. Question specificity (single vs. multiple target questions) was manipulated. Search time and search patterns showed a limited influence of discipline expertise on students' search strategies. However, strategies were consistent within question types and participants. Moreover, participants had a better incidental memory for the structure of the document in their specialty. The results support a model of document search as a generalized process with a limited influence of domain-related knowledge.
Keywords: Domain knowledge; Hypertext; Information search; Question answering; Strategy
What is this evasive beast we call user satisfaction? BIBAK 429-452
  Gitte Lindgaard; Cathy Dudek
The notion of 'user satisfaction' plays a prominent role in HCI, yet it remains evasive. This exploratory study reports three experiments from an ongoing research program. In this program we aim to uncover (1) what user satisfaction is, (2) whether it is primarily determined by user expectations or by the interactive experience, (3) how user satisfaction may be related to perceived usability, and (4) the extent to which satisfaction rating scales capture the same interface qualities as uncovered in self-reports of interactive experiences. In all three experiments reported here user satisfaction was found to be a complex construct comprising several concepts, the distribution of which varied with the nature of the experience. Expectations were found to play an important role in the way users approached a browsing task. Satisfaction and perceived usability was assessed using two methods: scores derived from unstructured interviews and from the Web site Analysis MeasureMent Inventory (WAMMI) rating scales. Scores on these two instruments were somewhat similar, but conclusions drawn across all three experiments differed in terms of satisfaction ratings, suggesting that rating scales and interview statements may tap different interface qualities. Recent research suggests that 'beauty', or 'appeal' is linked to perceived usability so that what is 'beautiful' is also perceived to be usable [Interacting with Computers 13 (2000) 127]. This was true in one experiment here using a web site high in perceived usability and appeal. However, using a site with high appeal but very low in perceived usability yielded very high satisfaction, but low perceived usability scores, suggesting that what is 'beautiful' need not also be perceived to be usable. The results suggest that web designers may need to pay attention to both visual appeal and usability.
Keywords: User satisfaction; Web site analysis measurement inventory; Usability; Expectation; Aesthetics; Emotion
Integrating work environment considerations into usability evaluation methods -- the ADA approach BIBAK 453-471
  Carl Aborg; Bengt Sandblad; Jan Gulliksen; Magnus Lif
The ADA-method is an attempt to integrate work environment issues into a usability evaluation method. The intention is to provide a method that can be used for the analysis of computer systems that are used by skilled professionals as a major part of their work.
   An ADA-analysis is performed as a semi-structured observation interview. The objectives of the ADA-method are (1) to identify usability and cognitive work environment problems in a computer supported work situation, and (2) to be a basis for further analysis and discussions concerning improvements of the system.
   The method was designed to suit the needs of occupational health specialists as a complement to their traditional methods for investigating physical and psychosocial work environments. However, the method has a more general applicability as it can be taught to any usability expert to facilitate work environment considerations in their analysis and evaluation work. Furthermore, the paper reports on the use of the method in several different settings and the results thereof.
Keywords: Usability evaluation; Work environment; Health and safety; Occupational health

IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 4

Understanding interaction with mobile devices BIBAK 473-478
  Fabio Paterno
This editorial paper introduces an emerging and important area for human-computer interaction research, which concerns interaction with mobile devices. The design of interactive mobile applications should differ from that of traditional desktop applications. To this aim, the paper discusses some concepts and models that help to understand the new challenges as well as recently introduced techniques that can be useful for exploiting the characteristics of these devices. Lastly, tool support for the design of nomadic applications is considered, taking into account the potential contexts of use, with particular attention to the platform features.
Keywords: Human-computer interaction with mobile devices; Multi-platform applications; Context of use
Improving web search on small screen devices BIBAK 479-495
  Matt Jones; George Buchanan; Harold Thimbleby
Small handheld devices -- mobile phones, Pocket PCs etc. -- are increasingly being used to access the web. Search engines are the most used web services and are an important factor of user support. Search engine providers have begun to offer their services on the small screen. This paper presents a detailed evaluation of the how easy to use such services are in these new contexts. An experiment was carried out to compare users' abilities to complete search tasks using a mobile phone-sized, handheld computer-sized and conventional, desktop interface to the full Google index. With all three interfaces, when users succeed in completing a task, they do so quickly (within 2-3 min) and using few interactions with the search engine. When they fail, though, they fail badly. The paper examines the causes of failures in small screen searching and proposes guidelines for improving these interfaces. In addition, we present and discuss novel interaction schemes that put these guidelines into practice.
Keywords: Search; Interfaces; Evaluation; Design; Mobile computing
ASUR++: Supporting the design of mobile mixed systems BIBAK 497-520
  Emmanuel Dubois; Philip Gray; Laurence Nigay
In this paper we present ASUR++, a notation for describing, and reasoning about the design of, mobile interactive computer systems that combine physical and digital objects and information: mobile mixed systems. ASUR++ helps a designer to specify the key characteristics of such systems and to focus on the relationship between physical objects and actions and digital information exchanges. Following a brief introduction to the notation, we illustrate its potential usefulness via examples based on the design of an augmented museum gallery. We conclude with a consideration of the integration of ASUR++ into the system development process and its augmentation via associated methods and tools.
Keywords: ASUR++ design notation; Design method; Mobile augmented reality systems; Ergonomic analysis
Adapting applications in handheld devices using fuzzy context information BIBAK 521-538
  Jani Mantyjarvi; Tapio Seppanen
Context-aware devices are able to take advantage of fusing sensory and application specific information to provide proper information on a situation, for more flexible services, and adaptive user interfaces (UI). It is characteristic for handheld devices and their users that they are continuously moving in several simultaneous fuzzy contexts. The dynamic environment sets special requirements for usability and acceptance of context-aware applications. Context-aware applications must be able to operate sensibly even if the context recognition is not 100% reliable and there are multiple contexts present at the same time. We present an approach for controlling context-aware applications in the case of multiple fuzzy contexts. This work has several potential applications in the area of adaptive UI application control. Our study is focused on the adaptation of applications representing information in handheld devices. The design of controllers and experiments with real context data from user scenarios are presented. Experimental results show that the proposed approach enhances the capability of adapting information representation in a handheld device. User reactions indicate that they accept application adaptation in many situations while insisting on retaining the most control over their device. Moreover, user feedback indicates that abrupt adaptations and instability should be avoided in the application control.
Keywords: Context aware computing; Context recognition; Mobile devices
Towards an improved readability on mobile devices: evaluating adaptive rapid serial visual presentation BIBAK 539-558
  Gustav Oquist; Mikael Goldstein
Can readability on small screens be improved by using adaptive Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) that adapts the presentation speed to the characteristics of the text instead of keeping it fixed? In this paper we introduce Adaptive RSVP, describe the design of a prototype on a mobile device, and report findings from a usability evaluation where the ability to read long and short texts was assessed. In a latin-square balanced repeated-measurement experiment, employing 16 subjects, two variants of Adaptive RSVP were benchmarked against Fixed RSVP and traditional text presentation. For short texts, all RSVP formats increased reading speed by 33% with no significant differences in comprehension or task load. For long texts, no differences were found in reading speed or comprehension, but all RSVP formats increased task load significantly. Nevertheless, Adaptive RSVP decreased task load ratings for most factors compared to Fixed RSVP. Causes, implications, and effects of these findings are discussed.
Keywords: Mobile usability; Small screens; Readability; Adaptive user interfaces; Dynamic text presentation; Rapid Serial Visual Presentation
Personal location agent for communicating entities (PLACE) BIBAK 559-576
  Justin Lin; Robert Laddaga; Hirohisa Naito
Traditionally, location systems have been built bottom-up beginning with low-level sensors and adding layers up to high-level context. Consequently, they have focused on a single location-detection technology. With sharing of user location in mind, we created Personal Location Agent for Communicating Entities (PLACE), an infrastructure that incorporates multiple location technologies for the purpose of establishing user location with better coverage, at varying granularities, and with better accuracy. PLACE supports sensor fusion and access control using a common versatile language to describe user locations in a common universe. It's design provides an alternative approach to location systems and insight into the general problem of sharing user location information.
Keywords: Relation-map; Sharing location; Context; Sensor fusion; Access control; Patient tracker
Investigating the usability of assistive user interfaces BIBAK 577-602
  Alistair Sutcliffe; Steve Fickas; McKay Moore Sohlberg; Laurie A. Ehlhardt
A prototype e-mail system was developed for cognitively disabled users, with four different interfaces (free format, idea prompt, form fill and menu driven). The interfaces differed in the level of support provided for the user and complexity of facilities for composing e-mail messages. Usability evaluation demonstrated that no one interface was superior because of individual differences in usability problems, although the majority of users preferred interfaces which did not restrict their freedom of expression (free format). In contrast to traditional evaluation studies, no common pattern of usability errors emerged, demonstrating the need for customisation of interfaces for individual cognitively disabled users. A framework for customising user interfaces to individual users is proposed, and usability principles derived from the study are expressed as claims following the task artefact cycle.
Keywords: Usability evaluation; Cognitive impairment; Assistive technology; Customised interfaces; Claims
Comparing mouse and steady-state visual evoked response-based control BIBK 603-621
  Keith S. Jones; Matthew Middendorf; Grant R. McMillan; Gloria Calhoun; Joel Warm
Keywords: Alternative control; EEG-based control; SSVER-based control; Input devices
Future computers will be more mobile, which will require new interaction methods. Accordingly, one might harness electroencephalographic (EEG) activity for computer control. Such devices exist, but all have limitations. Therefore, a novel EEG-based control was tested, which monitors the Steady-State Visual Evoked Response (SSVER). Selections are attempted by fixating a flickering target. A selection occurs if a SSVER is detected. To assess the device's relative performance, a mouse and the SSVER-based control were used to acquire targets of various sizes and distances. Accuracy and speed were measured. Overall, accuracy was poorer and acquisition times were longer with the SSVER-based control. However, the performance levels attained by the SSVER-based control might be adequate when manual controls are problematic, such as in assistive technology applications. In addition, in contrast to the mouse, SSVER-based acquisition times were insensitive to variations in target distance, which might serve as an operational advantage in certain applications.
Why usability gets lost or usability in in-house software development BIBAK 623-639
  Inger Boivie; Carl Aborg; Jenny Persson; Mats Lofberg
This study tries to shed some light on what happens to usability and occupational health issues in a bespoke software development project. Usability is an essential quality in software, in particular in a work context where poor usability and other risk factors related to the software and computers may cause health problems. We have interviewed a number of software developers, usability people and users about their attitudes to and practices for integrating usability and users' health concerns in software development. The interviews were conducted in two Swedish organisations with in-house development of bespoke software. Our main conclusion is that several factors combine to push usability and occupational health matters aside, some of which are attitudes to usability and users' health issues, unclear responsibilities, poor support for user-centeredness and usability in software development models, ineffective user participation and usability and users' health being ignored or forgotten in decisions about the software, its use and its design.
Keywords: Usability; Occupational health; Software development process; User-centred design; Computer-supported work; Visual display unit work

IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 5

From artefact to instrument BIB 641-645
  Pierre Rabardel
Appropriating artifacts as instruments: when design-for-use meets design-in-use BIBAK 647-663
  Viviane Folcher
This article discusses the use of artifacts as an instrument-mediated activity based on a field study in a call center specialized in networks and telecommunications. In this work setting, operators have access to a knowledge-sharing database, which is designed to support the collective elaboration of individual knowledge diffused on hot-lines in an instrument as a means for the collective activity. We characterize this situation along two interrelated analytical dimensions:
  • the design-in-use process by analyzing operators' activities: hot-line
       assistance and knowledge base appropriation;
  • the design-for-use process by analyzing the design assumptions inscribed in
       the artifact developed by designers. Main results showed that the experts' dialogue-conducting strategies are based on the intrinsic complexity of the questions. The problems are co-elaborated in the course of action by the expert and the caller and constituted as a domain of problems organized by one or more specific problems. This progressive elaboration aims at elucidating the problem situation implicitly contained in the initial request. Two individual instruments were developed within the shared database. Both of them showed transformation of the artifact structure. Moreover, a relation between the organized forms of hot-line assistance activity and the forms and functions of the instruments designed is identified: it may be fully or partially reciprocally congruent. These empirical results are discussed while opposing the 'design-in-use' criteria developed by operators to the 'design-for-use' criteria built up by the actors of institutional design. In conclusion, we emphasize points to consider in order to support further reflection on relations between use and design in an anthropocentric perspective.
    Keywords: Instrumented-mediated activity; Hot-line assistance; Design-for-use; Design-in-use; Instrumental genesis
  • From computer to instrument system: a developmental perspective BIBAK 665-691
      Pierre Rabardel; Gaetan Bourmaud
    Studies working within an activity theory frame have opened different paths in the HCI field. One of the fundamental points of these approaches focussed on activity is consideration of the constructive dimensions of the user's activity. Several authors have identified the complex relations between usage and design (Winograd and Flores, 1986; Suchman and Trigg, 1991) beyond this, that design continues in usage (Rabardel, 1995, 2002; Henderson and Kyng, 1991; Vicente, 1999).
       The approach that we put forward contributes to the development of this question: the continuation of design in usage. Based on an empirical situation (managing the maintenance of a broadcasting network for radio, television and telecommunications), we define the mediated activity. We look at the mediator and suggest conceptualizing it as a mixed functional entity: the instrument. We examine the emergence and development modalities of instruments during processes of instrumental genesis. We also show that instruments are components in more general systems that integrate and go beyond them: instruments systems.
    Keywords: Activity theory; Mediated activity; Design in usage; Instrument; Instrumental genesis; Instruments systems
    Information technology artefacts as structuring devices in organizations: design, appropriation and use issues BIBAK 693-707
      Giovanni Masino; Marco Zamarian
    In this paper we outline a theoretical framework to interpret the complex relationships between organizational processes and artefacts. Artefacts are conceived as negotiated, embedded, and sedimented sets of rules. The effects of the introduction of a certain artefact are therefore non-deterministic, and depend on the interaction between different decisions located at different analytical levels. More specifically, they depend on the combination of design, adoption and use choices. This combination is not linear, as there are feedback loops and mutual relationships between the different decisions processes. It can happen that the same individual, or the same organizational unit, is involved in different processes at different times or even at the same time. Thus, artefacts are, at the same time, both the outcome and the enacting input of such relationships.
       As outcomes, artefacts can be seen as vessels carrying the rules influencing users' behavior.
       As inputs, artefacts can be seen as the devices through which different sources of rationality generate new rules or change the existing ones through interactions and negotiations.
    Keywords: Artefacts; Decision processes; Rules; Negotiation; Structuration
    Design as a mutual learning process between users and designers BIBAK 709-730
      Pascal Beguin
    In the instrument-mediated activity approach, it is argued that artifacts are far from being finished when the final technical specifications leave the research and design office. It is up to the user, in and through its use, to turn the artifact into an instrument. If the design process continues as the artifact is being used in real situations, then how can we conceptualize the design process? This article proposes an understanding of project management as a mutual learning process that takes place during exchanges of activity. After discussing how such activity exchanges can be extended to mutual learning among users and designers, a concrete case is presented to illustrate the approach: designing an alarm system to guard against chemical runaways in chemical plants.
    Keywords: Participatory design; Instrumental genesis; Appropriation; Dialogicality; World

    IWC 2003 Volume 15 Issue 6

    Editorial BIB 731-735
      Yvonne Wærn
    Collaborating with writing tools: An instrumental perspective on the problem of computer-supported collaborative activities BIBA 737-757
      Teresa Cerratto Pargman
    This paper presents an analysis of the modifications that a synchronous computer support for collaborative writing introduces into the organization of co-authors' writing. The analysis is grounded in case studies of different groups of co-authors writing a report together face to face and at a distance through a collaborative writing computer system. Drawing from these studies I suggest that the problems with using a collaborative writing computer system to provide a fully collaborative writing environment derive from underlying assumptions concerning collaboration within the co-authoring activity. I point out that a more thorough understanding of how co-authors organize their writing can provide resources to envisage more radical solutions to the problem of computer support for collaboration. I conclude by considering ways that might be adequate to reconfigure collaborative writing systems in order to provide more satisfactory support for collaboration in writing environments.
    Appropriating the use of a Moo for collaborative learning BIBAK 759-781
      Teresa Cerratto Pargman; Yvonne Wærn
    The study presents an analysis of the activities of professional teachers while they use a text-based computer-mediated communication system called a Moo. The teachers, who are geographically distributed, attend a professional training course in education and information technology. The focus is on the appropriation process with regard to using the artifact within their learning and teaching activity. In order to analyze this process, participants' text-based communication was logged and the data was treated both quantitatively and qualitatively. We found that interaction through the artifact brings a modification in the organization of the classroom discourse and in particular in the teachers' communication schemes. We observed that the teachers-as-students attending the online training used the artifact mainly for the establishment and maintenance of relationships. They appropriated the features of the artifact that allowed them to 'talk' and exchange personal experiences rather easily. They did not however, elaborate online information shared with the others.
    Keywords: Moo; Collaborative learning; Instrumental genesis; Schemes; Artefact; Instrument; Use; Text-based discussions
    From artifact to instrument: mathematics teaching mediated by symbolic calculators BIBA 783-800
      Luc Trouche
    The evolution of calculation tools available for the learning of mathematics has been quick and profound. After the first illusions on a naturally positive integration of these tools, new theoretical approaches have emerged. They take into account individual and social processes of the mathematical instrument construction from a given artifact. In this article we show how analyzing constraints of the tool allows the understanding of its influence on the knowledge construction. We propose the concept of instrumental orchestration to design different devices which may be built in class and thus strengthen the socialized part of the instrumental genesis: instrumental orchestration is defined by objectives, configuration and exploitation modes. It acts at the same time on the artifact, on the subject, on the relationship the subject has with the artifact and on the way the subject considers this relation.Mathematical instrument; Instrumental genesis; Instrumental orchestration; Constraints of a tool; Scheme; Theorem-in-action
    Mediating effects of active and distributed instruments on narrative activities BIBAK 801-830
      Francoise Decortis; Antonio Rizzo; Berthe Saudelli
    This paper discusses the effects of introducing new distributed and active instruments on narrative activities in a school environment. We address the issue of how the Pogo instruments change children's activity when they invent stories. The results enable us to compare the way the activity is carried out, both in its conventional context and with the Pogo instruments, mainly along three main lines of investigation: the collective dimension, the use of space and the structure of the narrative. The results also show that using the instruments increase the collective or group dimension of the creative process, particularly the role diversification and participation of the children. These instruments support children's efforts to structure narratives and thereby produce richer stories.
       This research was carried out within the Pogo Project by a multidisciplinary team that included interactive design and user-centered approaches within the EC I3 programme on 'Exploring New Learning Futures for Children'.
    Keywords: Distributed instruments; Mediation; Narrative activity; Collective creation
    Learning with artefacts: integrating technologies into activities BIB 831-836
      Victor Kaptelinin