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Human-Computer Interaction 14

Editors:Thomas P. Moran
Publisher:Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Standard No:ISSN 0737-0024
Links:Table of Contents
  1. HCI 1999 Volume 14 Issue 1/2
  2. HCI 1999 Volume 14 Issue 3
  3. HCI 1999 Volume 14 Issue 4

HCI 1999 Volume 14 Issue 1/2

Introduction to This Special Issue on Representations in Interactive Systems Development BIB 1-7
  Peter Johnson; Eamonn O'Neill; Hilary Johnson
Coherence: An Approach to Representing Ethnographic Analyses in Systems Design BIBA 9-41
  Stephen Viller; Ian Sommerville
This article is concerned with how to represent in system design the kinds of features of work settings as reported by ethnographic studies of work. Various researchers and practitioners have found that ethnomethodological analyses of work settings can provide useful insights to the work processes and settings in which system design is interested. Previously at Lancaster University, we examined ways in which ethnography can be used in the design process and how the results of ethnographic analyses can be presented in such a way as to be useful components of the design process. This article reflects an effort to approach these methodological issues from a different perspective. It examines how the lessons learned from ethnographic studies can be reflected in the design process itself and in particular how standardized design artifacts (e.g., models, documents) can express the type of information that ethnographic studies produce.
   The article focuses on how ethnographic analyses can influence the main representational artifact in systems design -- the model of the system being developed. We examine how the Unified Modeling Language for object-oriented design can be used to express information about awareness in cooperative systems.
Representations and User-Developer Interaction in Cooperative Analysis and Design BIBA 43-91
  Eamonn O'Neill; Peter Johnson; Hilary Johnson
Participatory design (PD) and task analysis (TA) have each been widely promoted as amelioratives to the problems of developing systems that meet users' requirements. However, PD methods have tended to focus on design per se, rather than also promoting user-developer cooperation in upstream analysis activities. TA methods have promoted these upstream activities but largely failed to involve users directly in the analysis and modeling work. Hence, there is a need for a broader approach that encourages user-developer cooperation throughout systems analysis and design activities. This article examines the support for user-developer interaction provided by representations of users' tasks and software designs in 2 real-world software development projects that followed a task-based cooperative development approach. In the course of the system development work, the representations were called on to serve a number of different purposes. Task model and paper prototype representations facilitated the development of common ground among the members of the development team through the provision of an external shared model of the object of the development activity and helped to delimit an interaction space in which the cooperative activity was conducted. Weaknesses of the representations as supports for cooperative development included users' reluctance physically to amend the representations and the very strength of common ground developed between the participants that was not explicitly represented in the external models.
Representing Cognitive Activity in Complex Tasks BIBA 93-158
  Philip J. Barnard; Jon May
Although cognitive theory has been recognized as essential for the analysis of human-computer interaction (HCI), the representations that have been developed have been directed more toward theoretical purposes than practical application. To bridge the gap between theory and application, representations need to satisfy requirements for broad scope, a unified theoretical basis, and abstraction. Interacting cognitive subsystems (ICS) is proposed as a unified cognitive theory that can be used as the basis for such representations, and two approaches based on the theory are described. One entails the description of cognitive task models, which are a relatively complete representation of the cognitive activity required of a user in the course of an interaction. The other entails the production of less complete diagrammatic notations, which are intended to provide support in small-scale problem identification and resolution and which can be applied across tasks, visual interface, and sound interface issues and can handle static and dynamic situations. Although the former can be implemented in a production-rule expert system (ICSpert) and, therefore, does not require detailed modeling knowledge on the part of the analyst, the latter is a pencil-and-paper technique that does require theoretical knowledge but is intended to facilitate the acquisition of such knowledge in the interest of educating its users about the human aspects of HCI. The representations differ in the knowledge required for their use, in the support that they offer, and in the situations for which they are appropriate. They have been used to represent problems from experimental situations, core HCI scenarios, and real-world design projects. They share breadth of scope and abstraction, and their parent theory supports transfer of knowledge across domains of application and from older to newer technologies and feedback between the domain of application and the domain of theory.
Metaphors and Models: Conceptual Foundations of Representations in Interactive Systems Development BIBA 159-189
  David Benyon; Manuel Imaz
When system developers design a computer system (or other information artifact), they must inevitably make judgments as to how to abstract the worksystem and how to represent this abstraction in their designs. In the past, such abstractions have been based either on a traditional philosophy of cognition or cognitive psychology or on intuitive, spontaneous philosophies. A number of recent developments in distributed cognition (Hutchins, 1995), activity theory (Nardi, 1996), and experientialism (Lakoff, 1987) have raised questions about the legitimacy of such philosophies. In this article, we discuss from where the abstractions come that designers employ and how such abstractions are related to the concepts that the users of these systems have. In particular, we use the theory of experientialism or experiential cognition as the foundation for our analysis. Experientialism (Lakoff, 1987) has previously only been applied to human-computer interaction (HCI) design in a quite limited way, yet it deals specifically with issues concerned with categorization and concept formation. We show how the concept of metaphor, derived from experientialism, can be used to understand the strengths and weaknesses of alternative representations in HCI design, how it can highlight changes in the paradigm underlying representations, and how it can be used to consider new approaches to HCI design. We also discuss the role that "mental spaces" have in forming new concepts and designs.
The Untrained Eye: How Languages for Software Specification Support Understanding in Untrained Users BIBA 191-244
  Carol Britton; Sara Jones
It is generally recognized that choice of languages can have a significant effect on the system development process, particularly in the early stages. In the development of interactive systems, it is essential that all stakeholders are able to participate in a meaningful way. To do this, they must be able to understand representations of key concepts produced by the developers, especially those relating to problems and requirements for the system. Some stakeholders, such as clients and potential users of the system, may be unfamiliar with the languages used by system developers. They may, therefore, find it difficult to understand representations produced using such languages well enough to give useful feedback to the developer.
   In this article, we identify the ease of understanding representations as a key issue for interactive system development and consider how the notion ease of understanding may be defined in this context. We then discuss an approach to evaluating software specification languages in terms of properties that may affect the understandability of representations and that may be amenable to objective measurement. Our intention is to use the results of this work to (a) help to classify existing languages in terms of ease of understanding, (b) provide a rational basis for predicting understandability in proposed new languages, and (c) help developers to use current languages in more imaginative ways so that they can produce representations that are easier to understand.

HCI 1999 Volume 14 Issue 3

Timetrees: A Branching-Time Structure for Modeling Activity and State in Human-Computer Interaction BIBA 245-282
  Jeff Brandenburg; H. Rex Hartson
The design and construction of usable interactive systems requires a user-centered approach to system development. Such an approach requires tools and representations reflecting a behavioral view of the interface -- a view centered on user activities and the system activities and states that the user can perceive. We present a model of these behavioral phenomena well suited for defining, extending, and analyzing behavioral representations. Our model is based on the timetree, a novel tree-based structure representing tasks, user actions, system activity, and system and interface state, all within a framework of branching sequential timelines. We introduce the timetree model by relating it to well-known interactive behaviors. We present a formal definition of timetrees and some of the operations they support, and we show some ways in which the model has contributed to our understanding of behavioral descriptions.
Cooperative Work and Shared Visual Context: An Empirical Study of Comprehension Problems in Side-by-Side and Remote Help Dialogues BIBA 283-315
  Laurent Karsenty
If the sharing of context is now widely acknowledged as a condition for successful communication, existing studies do not allow us to determine whether it is necessary to restore the maximum of shared visual information to obtain the best communicative performance. To address this issue, three help dialogue conditions distinguished by the range of shared visual information are compared. The analyses are focused on the comprehension problems raised by each condition. The results highlight that comprehension efficiency in help dialogues is not necessarily linked to the quantity of shared visual information. This study suggests two reasons for this observation: (a) Help requesters in remote help dialogues adapt the content of their requests to the effective amount of shared visual information, and (b) helpers adapt their interpretive strategies to the available shared resources. On the other hand, it is shown that the inability to visually share some specific task-related information strongly affects communication efficiency. Implications for the design of computer-mediated communication systems are drawn from these results.
User Interface Affordances in a Planning Representation BIBA 317-354
  Robert St. Amant
This article shows how the concept of affordance in the user interface fits into a well-understood artificial intelligence (AI) model of acting in an environment. In this model AI planning research is used to interpret affordances in terms of the costs associated with the generation and execution of operators in a plan. This article motivates the approach with a brief survey of the affordance literature and its connections to the planning literature and then explores its implications through examples of common user interface mechanisms described in affordances terms. Despite its simplicity, the modeling approach ties together several different threads of practical and theoretical work on affordance into a single conceptual framework.

HCI 1999 Volume 14 Issue 4

Training Conditions and Strategic Aspects of Skill Transfer in a Simulated Process Control Task BIBA 355-393
  Tom Kontogiannis; Andrew Shepherd
In carrying out tasks, operators are at liberty to adopt a variety of strategies both at an operational level and at a more private psychological level, according to the affordances provided in the operational situation. Skill transfer between tasks is likely to be affected not only by common task elements but also by domain-specific strategic knowledge. The implication for training design thus would be to examine training methods that encourage learners to develop strategic knowledge to maximize transfer. Our focus has been on teaching knowledge of goal interactions and side effects as a means of enhancing domain-specific strategies. We describe an experiment to test predictions made through an operational classification of plans and to examine the extent to which transfer is facilitated by strategic knowledge. Participants were required to learn how to carry out the first stage in starting up a simulated distillation column, following instruction that varied in terms of degree of explicit procedural guidance and knowledge of goal interactions. The transfer task involved continuing the start-up process to achieve the final product targets. The results indicated that, although common task elements accounted for the majority of transfer effects, strategic knowledge also played a significant role in transfer.
Effects of Humor in Task-Oriented Human-Computer Interaction and Computer-Mediated Communication: A Direct Test of SRCT Theory BIBA 394-435
  John Morkes; Hadyn K. Kernal; Clifford Nass
Little published research exists on whether humor is a positive or a negative in task-oriented human-computer interaction (HCI). The prevailing notion is that humor distracts users, wastes their time, and may cause them to take their work less seriously. Two experiments examined the effects of humor in task situations involving HCI and computer-mediated communication (CMC). The studies used the same two-condition (humor or control) between-subjects design and essentially the same experimental method. Thus, data from the studies can be compared in a direct test of the social responses to communication technologies (SRCT) claim that people respond to humans and computers in identical ways. In the first experiment, participants worked on a task, ostensibly with another person in a different room, via a networked computer (CMC). All participants received preprogrammed comments, differing only in whether they contained humor. Humor participants rated the "other person" as more likable and reported greater cooperation with and similarity to this other person. They also made more jokes and responded more sociably. Task time and the amount of effort participants put into the task were unaffected by humor. In the second experiment, participants were told they were interacting with a computer in another room (HCI). The results from Experiment 2 were generally consistent with those from Experiment 1; however, HCI participants were less sociable, demonstrated less mirth, felt less similar to their interaction partner, and spent less time on the task. The results suggest both that humor may enhance likability of an interface and that SRCT theory should be revised. Implications for user-interface design and guidelines for the use of humor in HCI are discussed.