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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? on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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) on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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? on Performance

  • 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? on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

NRL April 2001—Czerwinski et al.


Attention based principles of notifications 1
Attention-Based Principles of Notifications 1 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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 on Performance

  • 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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