Paying Attention to Interruption:
A Human-Centered Approach to Intelligent Interruption Management

   Scott Jenson    Brian P. Bailey, University of Illinois Urbana Champlaign

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University April 6, 2007

Proactive computing offers many desired benefits to users, such as enabling a high degree of awareness of peripheral information. However, notifications from proactive systems run the serious risk of interrupting users’ tasks at inopportune moments, decreasing performance and increasing frustration. In this talk, I will discuss our ongoing empirical and systems development work aimed at maintaining timely delivery of notifications while reducing costs of interruption. Grounded in cognitive theories of attention, a central theme of our work has been to leverage deeper understanding of the structure of user tasks in order to pinpoint lower cost moments for interruption. Our empirical work has shown favorable results for deferring notifications until meaningful breakpoints in a task, while our systems development work has begun to understand how to efficiently automate this process in practice. The work discussed should be applicable in most situations in which users perform goal-directed tasks in the midst of periodic interruption.

Biran Bailey has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois-Urbana since 2002. His research interests include developing theoretically-based tools, interfaces, and systems for managing user attention, designing computational tools that better support creativity and storytelling, and user interfaces for pervasive computing. Dr. Bailey’s multi-disciplinary research efforts have been recognized with affiliate academic appointments in Aviation Psychology, the Beckman Institute, and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at UIUC.

View this talk on line at CS547 on Stanford OnLine

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