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ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction 6

Editors:Jonathan Grudin
Standard No:ISSN 1073-0516
Links:Table of Contents
  1. TOCHI 1999 Volume 6 Issue 1
  2. TOCHI 1999 Volume 6 Issue 2
  3. TOCHI 1999 Volume 6 Issue 3
  4. TOCHI 1999 Volume 6 Issue 4

TOCHI 1999 Volume 6 Issue 1

A Software Model and Specification Language for Non-WIMP User Interfaces BIBAKPDF 1-46
  Robert J. K. Jacob; Leonidas Deligiannidis; Stephen Morrison
We present a software model and language for describing and programming the fine-grained aspects of interaction in a non-WIMP user interface, such as a virtual environment. Our approach is based on our view that the essence of a non-WIMP dialogue is a set of continuous elationships -- most of which are temporary. The model combines a data-flow or constraint-like component for the continuous relationships with an event-based component for discrete interactions, which can enable or disable individual continuous relationships. To demonstrate our approach, we present the PMIW user interface management system for non-WIMP interactions, a set of examples running under it, a visual editor for our user interface description language, and a discussion of our implementation and our restricted use of constraints for a performance-driven interactive situation. Our goal is to provide a model and language that captures the formal structure of non-WIMP interactions in the way that various previous techniques have captured command-based, textual, and event-based styles and to suggest that using it need not compromise real-time performance.
Keywords: D.2.2 [Software Engineering]: Design Tools and Techniques User interfaces; H.1.2 [Models and Principles]: User/Machine Systems -- Human factors; H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: User Interfaces; I.3.7 [Computer Graphics]: Three-Dimensional Graphics and Realism -- Virtual reality; F.3.1 [Logics and Meanings of Programs]: Specifying and Verifying and Reasoning about Programs -- Specification techniques; Design, Human Factors, Languages; Interaction techniques, non-WIMP interface, PMIW, specification language, state transition diagram, user interface management system (UIMS)
A Partial Test of the Task-Medium Fit Proposition in a Group Support System Environment BIBAKPDF 47-66
  Bernard C. Y. Tan; Kwok-kee Wei; Choon-Ling Sia; Krishnamurthy S. Raman
A laboratory experiment was carried out to partially test the task-medium fit proposition in a GSS environment. Communication medium was varied using a face-to-face GSS and a dispersed GSS setting. Task type was varied using an intellective and a preference task. Group decision outcome variables of interest were (actual and perceived) decision quality, decision time, decision satisfaction, and decision process satisfaction. With the intellective task, there were no significant differences between face-to-face GSS and dispersed GSS groups for all group decision outcome variables. With the preference task, face-to-face GSS groups performed significantly better than dispersed GSS groups for all group decision outcome variables. These findings suggest that group decision outcomes in a GSS environment tend to be adversely affected when the communication medium is too lean for the task but not when the communication medium is too rich for the task. Consequences of providing groups with too rich and too lean a communication medium for their task are discussed. Implications of these findings, and other related results, for practice and for future revisions of media richness theory are explored.
Keywords: H.5.3 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: Group and Organization Interfaces -- Evaluation/methodology; Synchronous interaction; Theory and models; Experimentation, Human Factors, Theory; Group support systems, media richness, task type
Constructing, Organizing, and Visualizing Collections of Topically Related Web Resources BIBAKPDF 67-94
  Loren Terveen; Will Hill; Brian Amento
For many purposes, the Web page is too small a unit of interaction and analysis. Web sites are structured multimedia documents consisting of many pages, and users often are interested in obtaining and evaluating entire collections of topically related sites. Once such a collection is obtained, users face the challenge of exploring, comprehending, and organizing the items. We report four innovations that address these user needs: (1) we replaced the Web page with the Web site as the basic unit of interaction and analysis; (2) we defined a new information structure, the clan graph, that groups together sets of related sites; (3) we augment the representation of a site with a site profile, information about site structure and content that helps inform user evaluation of a site; and (4) we invented a new graph visualization, the auditorium visualization, that reveals important structural and content properties of sites within a clan graph. Detailed analysis and user studies document the utility of this approach. The clan graph construction algorithm tends to filter out irrelevant sites and discover additional relevant items. The auditorium visualization, augmented with drill-down capabilities to explore site profile data, helps users to find high-quality sites as well as sites that serve a particular function.
Keywords: H.5.1 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: Multimedia Information Systems -- hypertext navigation and maps; H.3.3 [Information Storage and Retrieval]: Information Search and Retrieval -- retrieval models; Human Factors; Cocitation analysis, collaborative filtering, computer-supported cooperative work, information visualization, social filtering, social network analysis

TOCHI 1999 Volume 6 Issue 2

Flexible Collaboration Transparency: Supporting Worker Independence in Replicated Application-Sharing Systems BIBAKPDF 95-132
  James Begole; Mary Beth Rosson; Clifford A. Shaffer
This article presents a critique of conventional collaboration transparency systems, also called "application-sharing" systems, which provide the real-time shared use of legacy single-user applications. We find that conventional collaboration transparency systems are inefficient in their use of network resources and lack support for key groupware principles: concurrent work, relaxed WYSIWIS, and group awareness. Next, we present an alternative approach to implementing collaboration transparency that provides many features previously seen only in collaboration-aware applications. Our approach is based on a replicated architecture where selected single-user interface components are dynamically replaced by multiuser versions. The replacement occurs at run-time and is transparent to the single-user application and its developers. As an instance of this approach, we describe its incorporation into a Java-based collaboration transparency system for serializable, Swing-based Java applications, called Flexible JAMM (Java Applets Made Multiuser). To validate that the flexible collaboration transparency system is truly an improvement over conventional systems, we conducted an empirical study of collaborators performing both tightly and loosely coupled tasks using Flexible JAMM versus a representative conventional collaboration transparency system, Microsoft NetMeeting. Completion times were significantly faster in the loosely coupled task using Flexible JAMM and were not adversely affected in the tightly coupled task. Accuracy was equivalent for both systems. Participants greatly preferred Flexible JAMM.
Keywords: C.2.4 [Computer-Communication Networks]: Distributed Systems -- Distributed applications; D.2.2 [Software Engineering]: Design Tools and Techniques -- User interfaces; H.1.2 [Models and Principles]: User/Machine Systems -- Human factors; H.5.3 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: Group and Organization Interfaces -- Collaborative computing; Design, Human Factors; Application sharing, collaboration transparency, computer-supported cooperative work, Flexible JAMM, groupware, Java, usability
Presto: An Experimental Architecture for Fluid Interactive Document Spaces BIBAKPDF 133-161
  Paul Dourish; W. Keith Edwards; Anthony LaMarca; Michael Salisbury
Traditional document systems use hierarchical filing structures as the basis for organizing, storing and retrieving documents. However, this structure is very limited in comparison with the rich and varied forms of document interaction and category management in everyday document use. Presto is a prototype document management system providing rich interaction with documents through meaningful, user-level document attributes, such as "Word file," "published paper," "shared with Jim," "about Presto", or "currently in progress." Document attributes capture the multiple different roles that a single document might play, and they allow users to rapidly reorganize their document space for the task at hand. They also provide a basis for novel document systems design and new approaches to document management and interaction. In this article, we outline the motivations behind this approach, describe the principal components of our implementation, discuss architectural consequences, and show how these support new forms of interaction with large personal document spaces.
Keywords: D.2.2 [Software Engineering]: Design Tools and Techniques -- User interfaces; H.3.2 [Information Storage and Retrieval]: Information Storage -- File organization; H.3.3 [Information Storage and Retrieval]: Information Search and Retrieval; H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: User Interfaces -- Interaction styles; Human Factors; Attribute/value systems, direct manipulation, document management
Rotating Virtual Objects with Real Handles BIBAKPDF 162-180
  Colin Ware; Jeff Rose
Times for virtual object rotations reported in the literature are of the order of 10 seconds or more and this is far longer than it takes to manually orient a "real" object, such as a cup. This is a report of a series of experiments designed to investigate the reasons for this difference and to help design interfaces for object manipulation. The results suggest that two major factors are important. Having the hand physically in the same location as the virtual object being manipulated is one. The other is based on whether the object is being rotated to a new, randomly determined orientation, or is always rotated to the same position. Making the object held in the hand have the same physical shape as the object being visually manipulated was not found to be a significant factor. The results are discussed in the context of interactive virtual environments.
Keywords: H.1.2 [Models and Principles]: User/Machine Systems -- Human factors; I.3.6 [Computer Graphics]: Methodology and Techniques -- Interaction techniques; Experimentation, Human Factors; 3D object manipulation, 3D rotation, direct manipulation, input devices, two-handed input, virtual reality

TOCHI 1999 Volume 6 Issue 3

Why are Some Diagrams Easier to Work With? Effects of Diagrammatic Representation on the Cognitive Intergration Process of Systems Analysis and Design BIBAKPDF 181-213
  Jungpil Hahn; Jinwoo Kim
Various diagrams have been used heavily in systems analysis and design without proper verification of their usability. However, different diagrammatic representations of the same information may vary in the computational efficiency of working with these diagrams. The objective of this research was to explore the effects of diagrammatic representations on the task of integrating multiple diagrams. The domain of systems analysis and design was used to generate examples and test the theory. A cognitive model of diagram integration was proposed, and an experimental study was conducted, both to explore the effects of representational features of diagrams on the cognitive process of diagram integration. Results of the experiment show that the representational features of the diagrams acted as the criteria for selecting among various methods for analyzing and designing the integrated diagram. In addition, the difference in the selected methods resulted in different task performances in terms of analysis and design errors. This article concludes with the implications of the results for the development of cognitively compelling diagrams.
Keywords: D.2.1 [Software Engineering]: Requirements/Specifications -- Methodologies (e.g., object-oriented, structured); Representation; H.1.2 [Models and Principles]: User/Machine Systems -- Human information processing; H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: User Interfaces -- Interaction styles; Design, Human Factors; Diagrammatic representation, diagrammatic manipulation, GOMS, visual grammar
The Relative Contributions of Stereo, Lighting, and Background Scenes in Promoting 3D Depth Visualization BIBAKPDF 214-242
  Geoffrey S. Hubona; Philip N. Wheeler; Gregory W. Shirah; Matthew Brandt
More powerful contemporary computer hardware has enabled the development and exploration of a wide variety of techniques to depict spatial characteristics of computer-generated objects in three-dimensional (3D) space. Particularly, the role of stereoscopic viewing and the use of object motion to reflect the position and size of objects in 3D space have been extensively studied. However, the effective use of computer-rendered object shadows to provide spatial information about the relative position and size of objects in virtual space has not. Subjects perform two tasks with 3D geometric patterns of objects presented on a computer screen: (1) positioning the object to complete a symmetrical geometric figure and (2) resizing the object to match the size of other objects. Performance accuracy and speed are recorded under the following conditions: (1) objects casting shadows on and off, (2) shadows from one or two light sources (nested within the shadows-on condition), (3) stereoscopic and monoscopic viewing, and (4) different scene backgrounds: flat plane (i.e., floor), "stair-step" floor with no walls, and floor with walls (i.e., room). The use of object shadows as depth cues enhances the accuracy (but not the speed) of object positioning, but does not enhance either the accuracy or the speed of object resizing. Moreover, the object shadows are not as effective as stereoscopic viewing in facilitating both positioning-task and resizing-task performances. Furthermore, task performances degrade with the stair-step scene background and when the number of shadowing light sources increases from one to two.
Keywords: H.1.2 [Models and Principles]: User/Machine Systems; H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: User Interfaces; I.3.7 [Computer Graphics]: Three-Dimensional Graphics and Realism; Experimentation, Human Factors; 3D user interfaces, cue theory, depth perception, shadows, stereoscopic viewing
The Effects of Workspace Awareness Support on the Usability of Real-Time Distributed Groupware BIBAKPDF 243-281
  Carl Gutwin; Saul Greenberg
Real-time collaboration in current distributed groupware workspaces is often an awkward and clumsy process. We hypothesize that better support for workspace awareness -- the understanding of who is in the workspace, where they are working, and what they are doing -- can improve the usability of these shared computational workspaces. We conducted an experiment that compared people's performance on two versions of a groupware interface. The interfaces used workspace miniatures to provide different levels of support for workspace awareness. The basic miniature showed information only about the local user, and the enhanced miniature showed the location and activity of other people in the workspace as well. We examined five aspects of groupware usability: task completion times, communication efficiency, the participants' perceived-effort, overall preference, and strategy use. In two of three task types tested, completion times were lower in the awareness-enhanced system, and in one task type, communication was more efficient. The additional awareness information also allowed people to use different and more effective strategies to complete the tasks. Participants greatly preferred the awareness-enhanced system. The study provides empirical evidence that support for workspace awareness improves the usability of groupware, and uncovers some of the reasons underlying this improvement.
Keywords: D.2.2 [Software Engineering]: Design Tools and Techniques -- User interfaces; D.2.8 [Software Engineering]: Metrics -- Performance measures; H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: User Interfaces -- Evaluation/methodology; H.5.3 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: Group and Organization Interfaces -- Synchronous interaction; I.3.6 [Computer Graphics]: Methodology and Techniques -- Interaction techniques
At Home with the Technology: An Ethnographic Study of a Set-Top-Box Trial BIBAKPDF 282-308
  Jon O'Brien; Tom Rodden; Mark Rouncefield; John Hughes
The rapid growth and development of the Internet and the resulting growth in interest in access to network facilities highlight an increasing prominence of computer technology in the home. In this article we report on a study of the social organization of a number of domestic environments in the northwest of England and consider the ways in which an understanding of the nature of the home is of interest to the developers of future interactive technology. Thus, in the first half of the article we consider the everyday nature of home life, and in the second half we report on an ethnographically based evaluation of a prototype set top box for the provision of digital services to the home. In addition to reflecting on the nature of activities in the home we conclude by considering the design implications that can be drawn from an examination of these activities.
Keywords: H.1.2 [Models and Principles]: User/Machine Systems; H.5.3 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: Group and Organization Interfaces -- Synchronous interaction; Theory and models; K.4.0 [Computers and Society]: General; H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: User Interfaces -- Evaluation/methodology; Design, Human Factors; Coordination and collaboration, domestic environment, ethnography, evaluation, interactive devices

TOCHI 1999 Volume 6 Issue 4

Introduction to the Special Issue on Interface Issues and Designs for Safety-Critical Interactive Systems: When There is No Room for User Error BIBPDF 309-310
  Wayne D. Gray; Philippe Palanque; Fabio Paterno
Is Paper Safer? The Role of Paper Flight Strips in Air Traffic Control BIBAKPDF 311-340
  Wendy E. Mackay
Air traffic control is a complex, safety-critical activity, with well-established and successful work practices. Yet many attempts to automate the existing system have failed because controllers remain attached to a key work artifact: the paper flight strip. This article describes a four-month intensive study of a team of Paris en-route controllers in order to understand their use of paper flight strips. The article also describes a comparison study of eight different control rooms in France and the Netherlands. Our observations have convinced us that we do not know enough to simply get rid of paper strips, nor can we easily replace the physical interaction between controllers and paper strips. These observations highlight the benefits of strips, including qualities difficult to quantify and replicate in new computer systems. Current thinking offers two basic alternatives: maintaining the existing strips without computer support and bearing the financial cost of limiting the air traffic, or replacing the strips with automated versions, which offer potential benefits in terms of increased efficiency through automation, but unknown risks through radical change of work practices. We conclude with a suggestion for a third alternative: to maintain the physical strips, but turn them into the interface to the computer. This would allow controllers to build directly upon their existing, safe work practices with paper strips, while offering them a gradual path for incorporating new computer-based functions. Augmented paper flight strips allow us to take advantage of uniquely human skills in the physical world, and allows us to leave the user interface and its subsequent evolution in the hands of the people most responsible, the air traffic controllers themselves.
Keywords: H.1.2 [Information Systems]: User/Machine Systems -- Human factors; Human information processing; Human Factors; Activity theory, affordances, air traffic control, annotation, ethnographic study, paper flight strips, peripheral awareness, safety factors
An Impact Analysis Method for Safety-Critical User Interface Design BIBAKPDF 341-369
  Julia Galliers; Alistair Sutcliffe; Shailey Minocha
We describe a method of assessing the implications for human error on user interface design of safety-critical systems. In previous work we have proposed a taxonomy of influencing factors that contribute to error. In this article, components of the taxonomy are combined into a mathematical and causal model for error, represented as a Bayesian Belief Net (BBN). The BBN quantifies error influences arising from user knowledge, ability, and the task environment, combined with factors describing the complexity of user action and user interface quality. The BBN model predicts probabilities of different types of error -- slips and mistakes -- for each component action of a task involving user-system interaction. We propose an Impact Analysis Method that involves running test scenarios against this causal model of error in order to determine user interactions that are prone to different types of error. Applying the proposed method will enable the designer to determine the combinations of influencing factors and their interactions that are most likely to influence human error. Finally we show how such scenario-based causal analysis can be useful as a means of focusing on relevant guidelines for safe user interface design. The proposed method is demonstrated through a case study of an operator performing a task using the control system for a laser spectrophotometer.
Keywords: D.2.1 [Software Engineering]: Requirements/Specifications -- Methodologies (e.g., object-oriented, structured); D.2.2 [Software Engineering]: Design Tools and Techniques -- User interfaces; G.3 [Mathematics of Computing]: Probability and Statistics; H.1.2 [Models and Principles]: User/Machine Systems -- Human factors; Design, Human Factors, Reliability; Bayesian Belief Networks, human error, safety-critical, scenario-based causal analysis
Comparing Design Options for Allocating Communication Media in Cooperative Safety-Critical Contexts: A Method and a Case Study BIBAKPDF 370-398
  Robert Fields; Fabio Paterno; Carmen Santoro; Sophie Tahmassebi
In this article we present a method for evaluating and comparing design options for allocating communication media. The method pays particular attention to how such options support cooperation in an interactive safety-critical system. The comparison is performed using three sets of criteria based on task performance, analysis of user deviations and consequent hazards, and coordination. The explicit emphasis on hazards and communication issues, using actual tasks to guide the evaluation, ensures that designers -- attention is focused on the interactions where problems are likely to occur. We describe an application of the method to the design of access to new communication technology in an air traffic control environment.
Keywords: H.5.2 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: User Interfaces -- Evaluation/methodology; Input devices and strategies; Interaction styles; H.5.1 [Information Interfaces and Presentation]: Multimedia Information Systems -- Audio input/output; D.2.2 [Software Engineering]: Design Tools and Techniques -- User interfaces; Design, Human Factors, Reliability; Air traffic control, tasks, usability and safety