Evaluating the Deployment of a Location-Enhanced Messaging Service

An article that is going to be presented at Ubicomp that sounds interesting:Control, Deception, and Communication: Evaluating the Deployment of a Location-Enhanced Messaging Service by G. Iachello, I. Smith, S. Consolvo, G. D. Abowd, J. Hughes, J. Howard, F. Potter, J. Scott, T. Sohn, J. Hightower, A. LaMarca.

We report on a two-week deployment of a peer-to-peer, mobile, location-enhanced messaging service. This study is specifically aimed at investigating the need for and effectiveness of automatic location disclosure mechanisms, the emerging strategies to achieve plausible deniability, and at understanding how place and activity are used to communicate plans, intentions and provide awareness. We outline the research that motivated this study, briefly describe the application we designed, and provide details of the evaluation process. The results show a lack of value of automatic messaging functions, confirm the need for supporting plausible deniability in communications, and highlight the prominent use of activity instead of place to indicate one’s location. Finally, we offer suggestions for the development of social mobile applications.

Why do i blog this? the analysis is pretty good and I like this finding:

In the pilot study we had observed that location was often used as a proxy for conveying other messages, such as status, estimated time of arrival (ETA), or reminders. In response to these findings, we introduced the option of responding to a location request with an activity instead of with a place.

Beside, this other recommendation is consistent with what I found:

Don’t Make Automated Functions a Design Priority: Automated features designed to streamline and facilitate communication should not be a design priority. Although the pilot study uggested promising applications for Waypoints, the participants in this study unanimously preferred to maintain control over the messages their phones transmitted. Few participants used Waypoints even for very routine activities (such as leaving work or arriving home). Most participants felt that the time spent sending the message was well worth the gain in precision and purposefulness. This contradicts the mainstream view in the ubicomp community that increasing information overload demands “intelligent” technology to take up the role of an “electronic assistant” for the user. Quite the contrary, the main value participants saw in Reno was the lightweight interaction it afforded, which made it easy to use during interstitial activity (i.e., those times, such as waiting for a bus, between sanctioned activities).

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