Instant messaging and interruption influence of task type on performance
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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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