Que Sera Sera

the problem of the future perfect in open and cooperative systems

Alan Dix

At time of publication: University of Huddersfield, UK.
Currently: Lancaster University, UK.

Full reference:
A. Dix (1994).
Que sera sera - The problem of the future perfect in open and cooperative systems.
Proceedings of HCI'94: People and Computers IX, Eds. G. Cockton, S. W. Draper and G. R. S. Weir. Glasgow, Cambridge University Press. 397-408.
See also
full paper (html)
full paper : compressed postscript (64K), PDF (212K)
Alan's research topics pages on: time and the ecology of information


When the pace of interaction with a task is too slow, the user's execution/evaluation loop is broken. Feedback normally says what has happened. However, when the task is slow, nothing has happened yet - the interest shifts to what will have happened. This poses two problems for the user. Firstly, recalling the appropriate context when a response eventually arrives. Secondly, maintaining the expectation that the response will come and when, so that appropriate action can be taken if it fails to materialise. The design question is how to support these activities, of which the latter has received little emphasis to date.

Keywords: cooperative work, CSCW, delayed feedback, status/event, response time

Alan Dix 10/7/1998