Wednesday, September 19, 2007

HCI 2007: Human Challenges, Technological Solutions

Emotion in HCI ...

"The topic of emotion in HCI continues to grow in importance. On the one hand our increasingly complex interactions with machinery and with each other mean that emotion is inevitably becoming a routine part of the overall experience. From the other perspective, increasingly complex technologies mean that it is becoming more feasible for human emotion to be acknowledged, accommodated and responded to, either in technology-mediated human-to-human interaction, or directly in our dealings with technology.

SEPARATION FROM FRIENDS
Overcoming the distance between geographically separated friends is an ambitious goal, particularly when the mechanism of contact moves beyond standard telephone and email communication. Based on surveys, focus groups and interviews, the paper by Octavia, van den Hoven and de Mondt presented the first foray into defining exactly what such a mechanism should be and what it should offer. Going beyond simple information exchanges the proposed focus of the research was the potential features and purpose of an awareness system – a new form of technology-mediated communication defined as a system which facilitates lightweight, informal and emotional forms of communication which help people to effortlessly maintain awareness of each other’s whereabouts and activities.

The researchers were able to identify specific feelings and experiences that were most missed as a result of separation, the main elements being shared problems and feelings; shared jokes and stories; and physical contact such as hugs and pats. The researchers conclude that awareness systems should primarily enable users to notify and physically comfort each other, in a subtle way, through a remote but shared experience, whenever a problem or feeling occurs.

TRUST AND APOLOGISING
Consideration of our online interactions with strangers was given in the paper by Vasalou, Hopfensitz and Pitt , who study the resolution of trust breakdowns in episodic online interactions. The researchers compared a reputation system, where the trustworthiness of individuals is ranked by other system users, with a system that also had a communication channel which displayed the offender’s expressed apology and regret over an unintended offence.

In everyday life, such offences are inevitable but not unforgivable. Apologies for one can evoke empathy towards the offender and in turn facilitate the process of forgiveness. But in anonymous, episodic interactions which are part of many online settings the resolution of such offences can become increasingly complex. This is partly because the narrow timeframe of each interaction combined with the impoverished communication channel constrict the cues of trustworthiness one can acquire on another The findings of the study suggest that the system which also endorses apology, as well as records reputation, allows the victim to recover trust in an unintentional offender. However, trust is repaired only when the offender validates the apology with a reparative action."    (Continued via Usability News)    [Usability Resources]

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