p97-hudson-1 - minneapolis minnesota usa 20-25 april 2002...

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“I’d Be Overwhelmed, But It’s Just One More Thing to Do:” Availability and Interruption in Research Management James M. Hudson College of Computing Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta, GA 30332-0280 [email protected] Jim Christensen, Wendy A. Kellogg, and Thomas Erickson IBM T.J. Watson Research Center 30 Saw Mill River Road Hawthorne, NY 10532 {ibmjim, wkellogg, [email protected] ABSTRACT Many CSCW projects dealing with individual availability and interruption filtering achieve only limited success. Perhaps this is because designers of such systems have limited evidence to draw upon; most data on interruption management is at least a decade old. This study uses an empirical sampling method and qualitative interviews to examine attitudes toward availability and interruption. Specifically, we analyze how corporate research managers spend their time and look at how their attitudes toward interruption relate to their various activities. Attitudes toward interruption are marked by a complex tension between wanting to avoid interruption and appreciating its usefulness. We conclude by discussing the implications of these findings for design, suggesting that the notion of socially translucent systems may be a fruitful approach. Keywords CSCW, availability, interruption, time management, attention economy, managers, social translucence INTRODUCTION In recent years, there has been increased discussion of the “attention economy” and “information overload.” Essentially, these discussions suggest that the important commodity in the current economy is no longer money or other physical resources. Rather, it is an individual’s time and attention. Due to limited time, attention is a limited resource. Those who succeed will be those who best gain others’ attention, or who most effectively deploy and manage their own [7]. While these ideas are certainly not new (e.g., [8]), technology seems to have exacerbated the problem. Technology has allowed more and more information and people to reach us than ever before. More and more, individuals feel overwhelmed. If technology is one of the leading causes of this problem, it makes sense that technology could also be a solution. While researchers have explored some approaches to ameliorating the attentional demands of communication technologies, however, they have met with limited success. For example, Rodenstein, Abowd, and Catrambone [19] designed a system prototype that allowed an individual to filter interruptions in a lightweight fashion. Studies of this prototype, however, revealed no significant performance gains for those using the system. This is consistent with later research showing that notification of an incoming message, even when the message is ignored, is disruptive to task performance [6]. In a somewhat more complex approach, Milewski and Smith [15] built a telephone system that allowed a caller to preview a callee’s self- declared state before placing a call. Unfortunately,
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p97-hudson-1 - minneapolis minnesota usa 20-25 april 2002...

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