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Hurricane Katrina Memorial Challenges, Motivations, and Success Factors in the Creation of Hurricane Katrina "Person Locator" Web Sites Christopher Scaffidi, Brad Myers, Mary Shaw Carnegie Mellon University PPIG’06 This image is licensed bywilliam.ward on Flickr for reuse under Creative Commons 2.0.
Solution? The “person locator”Hurricane Katrina Sites (HKS). • Several dozen teams created web sites: • Features for reporting survivors’ locations • Features for searching for people • HKS multiplicity created problems. • Survivor data was spread over many sites. • Searchers had to visit many sites. • So other teams began aggregating sites. • How to protect data from inappropriate uses? • How to manage huge teams needed for aggregation? Introduction
Talk outline • Sample and method • Results • What did HKS creators experience? • What were their motivations? • What factors led to success? • Questions that need answering Introduction
Our initial goal was to interview 6 non-professional HKS creators. • Our team’s goal: help non-professional developers create better programs. • Sample frame: we located 22 HKS via search engines • Our goal focused us on 10 small HKS lacking fancy graphics and corporate sponsors, plus 1 aggregator • We emailed these HKS creators (using DNS records) • 4 “regular” HKS creators + 2 aggregators participated; 5 worked in software firms or comp sci departments! • 30 minute semi-structured phone interview • Coded results into matrix to identify patterns Sample and method
Respondents found helping people to be mentally and emotionally exhausting. • Tight timelines for development • 2 to 7 days for “regular” sites • 6 to 10 days for “aggregator” sites • Draining work, every waking hour for weeks: • Creating the site • Collecting data (volunteers going to shelters) • Entering data manually (aggregator volunteers) • Answering tearful emails from searchers • Playing the role of counselor Results: Respondent experiences
And interacting with other HKS creators was challenging, as well. • Discussions of design, implementation & operation • “Regular” site teams had 1-3 people • Aggregator teams had 100+, organized via wiki + email-list • Some were database developers • Many were coders of custom site scrapers (HTML to XML) • Most were volunteers who manually entered data • Trouble advertising the site • Radio & television stations created their own sites! • Disputes between HKS creators and “aggregators” • Pushy phone calls, lawsuit threats, and other problems • Even aggregators complained about other aggregators Results: Respondent experiences
HKS creators were mainly motivated by a desire to help other people. An available point of comparison: HKS creators’ motivations were a subset of those reported in prior studies by opensource developers. Results: Respondent motivations
What factors led to success? • We focused on self-perceived success because • Sites generally did not list the number of people found • Self-perceived success will probably affect whether volunteer developers participate in future projects • We asked several questions to assess success • Did your site meet its primary goal? Why / why not? • Were there unsurmountable problems? • If a friend with your skills wanted to create a site, what advice would you give? Results: Respondent success factors
Technical experience was the most significant success factor. • The 2 most experienced interviewees… • Had extensive experience coding sites + databases. • Said sites were successful; cited high traffic + user testimonials; would encourage friends to build sites • The 2 least experienced interviewees… • Had no experience coding sites + databases. • Said sites were unsuccessful; mentioned no user testimonials; would not encourage friends to build site • The 2 moderately experienced interviewees… • Some experience; somewhat positive about site Results: Respondent success factors
Lack of experience forced collaboration,resulting in less success. • The 2 most experienced interviewees… • Implemented the sites entirely on their own. • (They still relied on other people for advertising.) • The 2 least experienced interviewees… • Implemented none of their sites’ code. • Had to communicate requirements to other people. • The 2 moderately experienced interviewees… • Implemented portions of their sites’ code. One hypothesis… Less experience More collaboration More collaboration-related challenges Less perceived success (See paper for other hypotheses) Results: Respondent success factors
How to cope with the narrow time window for team-building in collaborative design? • How can we provide better methods & tools… • To help teams find each other sooner? • To merge work artifacts if teams merge (e.g.: data sharing)? • To direct skills where needed most (e.g.:developers to developing, counselors to counseling)? • Some HKS creators have recently built similar sites after earthquakes, typhoons, etc. • Have they developed solutions to meet these needs? Questions that need answering
Thank You • To PPIG for this opportunity to present. • To Sara Kiesler for help with analysis. • To Mary Beth Rosson, Alan Blackwell, Margaret Burnett, Susan Wiedenbeck, Cristen Torrey, Moira Burke, Irina Shklovski, and others for helpful discussions. • To our paper reviewers for helpful suggestions. • To NSF, Sloan, and NASA for funding.