Enhancing Technology-Mediated Communication: Tools, Analyses, and Predictive Models

Daniel Avrahami
Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, April 5, 2007
Talk begins at 11:00 a.m.
Refreshments served at 10:30 a.m.
Computer Science Building 2, UC Irvine, Room 136


For the majority of us, interpersonal communication is at the center of
our professional and personal lives. With the growing distribution of
business organizations and of our social networks, so grows the need for
and use of communication technologies. Many of today’s communication
tools, however, suffer from a number of shortcomings. For example, the
inherent discrepancy between one’s desire to initiate communication and
another’s ability or desire to receive it, often leads to unwanted
interruptions on the one hand, or failed communication on the other. In
order to address some of these shortcomings, and also in order to
provide a better understanding of human behavior and the use of these
tools, I have taken an interdisciplinary approach in which I combine
tool-building and the creation of predictive models, with investigation
and analysis of large volumes of field data.

The focus of this talk will be my recent work on Instant Messaging (IM)
communication, a popular, interesting, and highly observable point on
the continuum between synchronous and asynchronous communication
mediums. I will start by presenting a set of statistical models that are
able to predict, with high accuracy, users’ responsiveness to incoming
communication. A quantitative analysis complements these models by
revealing major factors that influence responsiveness, illuminating its
role in IM communication. I will then describe an investigation of the
effect of interpersonal relationships on IM communication, and
statistical models that can predict these relationships. Finally, I will
describe a tool I have created that allows users to balance their
responsiveness to IM with their ability to stay on task.

Daniel Avrahami is a Ph.D. candidate in the Human-Computer Interaction
Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is advised by
Professor Scott E. Hudson. Previously he received an M.S. in HCI from
Carnegie Mellon. As an undergraduate he received a B.Sc. in Computer
Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel (HUJI).
Themes present in his research include the use of machine learning for
the support of interpersonal communication, design and implementation of
communications solutions, and the use of field and controlled
experimentation to examine communication and tools. His recent
publications — describing his work in the area of communications and
interruptions, as well as in the area of physical interactive
prototyping — include papers at the CHI, CSCW, UIST, and DIS
conferences, and articles in Journal of Behaviour and Information
Technology (BIT) and ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (ToCHI).
Additional information can be found at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~nx6

For more information please contact Gloria Mark at (949) 824-5955 or
Marty Beach at (949) 824-2901.

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