Interaction in the Large

Alan Dix, Devina Ramduny
School of Computing
Staffordshire University
Stafford, ST18 0DG, UK.
Julie Wilkinson
School of Computing and Management Sciences
Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK.

Full reference:

A. Dix, D. Ramduny and J. Wilkinson (1998).
Interaction in the Large. Interacting wth Computers . Special Issue on Temporal Aspects of Usabilty (in press)

See the full paper at:

For related work, see Alan's research topics page on time


Most work in HCI focuses on interaction in the small: where tasks take a few minutes or hours and individual actions receive feedback within seconds. In contrast, many collaborative activities occur over weeks or months and the turnaround of individual messages may take hours, days or even weeks. This slow pace of interaction brings its own problems, especially when expected responses do not occur. This paper analyses these problems, focusing on the triggers which initiate activities and the way processes recover when triggers are missed or misinterpreted. Furthermore, we are able to consider processes which cross organisational boundaries. We draw on theoretical analysis, an exploratory case study of conference organisation and recent application of the techniques to a student placement office. During the studies a pattern of recurrent activities was discovered, the 4Rs (request, receipt, response, and release), which we believe to be generic to this class of collaborative process.

keywords: pace, interruptions, reminders, events, long-term interaction, CSCW, cooperative work, workflow, to-be-done-to lists, paper documents Alan Dix