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Instant Messaging and Interruption: Influence of Task Type on Performance. Mary Czerwinski Ed Cutrell Eric Horvitz Microsoft Research. What Is Attention?. There are many definitions of attention

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instant messaging and interruption influence of task type on performance

Instant Messaging and Interruption: Influence of Task Type on Performance

Mary Czerwinski

Ed Cutrell

Eric Horvitz

Microsoft Research

what is attention
What Is Attention?
  • There are many definitions of attention
    • A function which selectively improves processing for one item, location, or task at the expense of others
  • Different modalities

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

some motivation
Some Motivation
  • Miyata & Norman (1986)
    • Predicted interruptions after important actions or between task execution and evaluation would be less harmful when multitasking

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

background 1
Background 1
  • Notifications are most distracting when they bear surface resemblance to the UI of the task at hand
    • Gillie & Broadbent (1989); Kreifelt & McCarthy (1981); Rhodes, Benoit & Payne (2000)
  • Auditory notifications can be more distracting than visual notifications
    • Mollenhauer, et al. (1994)

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

background 2
Background 2
  • People habituate to notifications over time, and training can help
    • Hess & Detweiler (1994); Altmann & Gray (2000)
  • Interruptions can be useful!
    • O’Conaill & Frohlich (1995)

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

mcfarlane 1999
McFarlane (1999)
  • Examined 4 methods for instant messages
    • immediate (requiring immediate user response)
    • negotiated (user chooses when to attend)
    • mediated (an intelligent agent might determine when best to interrupt)
    • scheduled (interruptions come at prearranged time intervals) interruption methods
  • Negotiated resulted in good performance
    • users may postpone attending to interrupting messages in these cases
  • Immediate is fast but users are less efficient overall
previous work 1
Previous Work 1
  • Degree of disruption depends on what task a user is doing and when the notification arrives
  • Relevant notifications are less disruptive than irrelevant
    • Czerwinski, Cutrell & Horvitz (2000)

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

previous work 2
Previous Work 2
  • Notifs during Web search task “phases”
    • Planning—deciding what search terms to use
    • Execution—entering the search terms
    • Evaluation—search the list looking for target
  • Disruption worst during:
    • Execution (“chunking”)
    • Evaluation (? ? ?)

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

messaging on the web
Messaging on the Web
  • Some trials interrupted with MSN’s Messenger service (v. 2.0)
    • Relevant messages (design category)
    • Irrelevant (factoid about target site)
  • Interruptions occurred during one of the three phases

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

why is list scanning so susceptible to interruption
Why is List Scanning So Susceptible to Interruption?
  • 2 hypotheses:

1) Visual reorienting is hard to do People just lose their place in the list“Where was I?”

2) Problem with “conceptual reacquisition” Delay from accessing memory of goal“What was I doing?”

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

how do we find out
How do we find out?
  • Sent IM messages to participants while they were scanning lists of book titles
    • Two kinds of targets:
      • Verbatim title (easy visual scan)
      • Gist of title (difficult semantic-based search)
  • Can we help?
    • Used a visual marker to save place in list

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

method
Method
  • 12 experienced Microsoft Office 2000 users, aged 25-54, participated in this study. 6 had some experience with MSN’s Messenger.
  • 64 sets of 80 book titles obtained from MS library. Each set was an Excel spreadsheet. Targets were distinctive within a set of 80 titles.

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

list search
List Search
  • Target always visible at top
  • Navigation with Cursor Up/Down or Page Up/Down keys
  • Cursor—>marker
  • Search target either verbatim title or “gist” of title

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

procedure
Procedure
  • In half of all trials, participants’ search task was interrupted with an instant message asking them a simple math problem.
  • Half of all trials had “gist” targets and half had title targets
  • Navigation was blocked, with half of the participants using Cursor Up/Down (Marked) first and the other half using Page Up/Down (Unmarked).

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

results
Results
  • Only report time data; accuracy was quite good
  • Used log response times to normalize common skewing & variability of RT data

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

overall task times
Overall task times
  • IMs slow down task times
  • Searches for Gists are slower than for Titles
  • No difference in navigation

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

task times minus im time
Task Times Minus IM Time
  • Same pattern as overall task times—effects not due to device switching time
  • Marker only helped title search a little—navigational confound

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

summary
Summary
  • IM is disruptive
  • More disruptive for fast, stimulus-driven search than for slower, semantic-based search tasks
  • Marker didn’t seem to help, but was confounded by navigation style
  • Reran study w/o confound, same result

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

memory effects notification
Memory Effects & Notification
  • Reran book title search study correcting for navigation confounds
  • Removed title from top of page and added a “Remind Me” button to list
  • Users could use button any time
  • Recorded where and when users needed to be reminded of search target

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

methods
Methods
  • 16 Ss (9 female)
  • Intermediate to advanced PC users
  • All but 1 had tried IM before
  • 2 (marker or not) x 2 (IM or not) within subjects design
  • 64 search trials

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

results1
Results

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

attention based principles of notifications 1
Attention-Based Principles of Notifications 1
  • Unless you are absolutely sure the user wants to know what you’re telling them at that moment, be careful of very salient notifications (this is from previous work)
    • Autoarchive in Outlook
    • Frequent audio alerts from Messenger
  • Users’ trust is fragile. Once they perceive a system is unreliable, it is very hard to win them back (from ongoing work)
  • Be cautious repeating information –it might be outdated or irritating

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

attention based principles of notifications 2
Attention-Based Principles of Notifications 2
  • Make notifications situation-aware.
    • Look for breakpoints and pauses in users’ interactions. We’ve identified a few: Open… or Save as… dialog boxes probably good places to interrupt; typing, selecting, and other direct interactions probably bad
  • When possible, use smart monitoring.
    • Monitor the user (what are they doing?)
    • Content of interruption
      • Obvious privacy issues, etc.

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

adaptive systems and interaction group at msr
Adaptive Systems and Interaction Group at MSR
  • Complementary work on modeling and decision making for alerts going on in our group
  • An information-theoretic perspective with supportive infrastructure.
  • Work tends to rely on theories that consider direct preference assessments about outcomes.
  • User studies will hopefully minimize the needs for preference elicitation
  • Results of the work will be useful to the cost-benefit modeling, decision making work.

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

future work
Future Work
  • User models of distractibility
  • Better cost/benefit user models of the value of delaying information
  • Better UI for notifying and reminding user of what they were doing before the notification
  • Field studies with teens
  • Longitudinal studies of our beta Mobile Manager software w/cell phones

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.

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