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Managing Availability: Supporting Lightweight Negotiations to Handle Interruptions
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Informatics.
Sheffield university.
2005 (English)In: ToCHI - Transaction of Computer Human Interaction, Vol. 5, no 4, 356-387 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Interruptions are a central aspect of working life. The prevalence of remote co-workers and the

use of mobile technology mean that interruptions are more prevalent, and workers have to learn

to manage availability. To understand general issues in availability management, we carried out a

naturalistic study of how interruptions are handled in face-to-face situations. We found that availability

management requires negotiation, that it is also highly dependent on awareness about the

availability of others, and that it demands cognitive effort to shift attention to the interruption. On

the basis of these observations, we developed a technology, named. The Negotiator, that embodies

three main design requirements: (a) support for negotiation, (b) contextual information about when

a recipient is available for a call, (c) lightweightness to reduce attention overhead.We carried out an

experimental study of interruption management using this technology. The interface satisfied the

original design requirements, that is, people, were able to use it effectively to negotiate times to talk,

while successfully carrying out an intellectually demanding activity. Contrary to our expectations,

however, people preferred to take responsibility for returning calls rather than delegating them,

and they preferred to schedule calls as soon as possible rather than deferring them. We suggest

that there are social reasons why people do this. They feel a social obligation to return calls as

soon as possible so as not to inconvenience others and also to be responsible for making these

calls themselves. They also take calls sooner to avoid having to remember future conversational

commitments. We discuss the theoretical and technical implications of these findings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2005. Vol. 5, no 4, 356-387 p.
Keyword [en]
availability management, mobility
National Category
Computer and Information Science
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-7403OAI: diva2:147074
Available from: 2008-01-09 Created: 2008-01-09 Last updated: 2011-01-12Bibliographically approved

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Wiberg, Mikael
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