Publication statistics

Pub. period:2001-2012
Pub. count:27
Number of co-authors:36


Number of publications with 3 favourite co-authors:

Jonathan Back:
Eddie Capstick:
Brock Craft:



Productive colleagues

Paul Cairns's 3 most productive colleagues in number of publications:

Ann Blandford:85
Harold Thimbleby:70
Matt Jones:63

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Paul Cairns

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Publications by Paul Cairns (bibliography)

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Thompson, Matt, Nordin, A. Imran and Cairns, Paul (2012): Effect of touch-screen size on game immersion. In: Proceedings of the HCI12 Conference on People and Computers XXVI 2012. pp. 280-285.

People are now able to enjoy playing their favourite videogames on different types of devices. In this paper, we investigate the influence on players' game immersion level by changing the size of the touch screen device used. We use two different sizes of touch screen device, iPod Touch and iPad, and let people play videogames on it, measuring their immersion level. We find that the level of immersion is higher for the larger touch screen size in comparison with the smaller one. The overall picture is therefore clear and suggests that different sizes of touch screen could be an important factor to influence immersion in videogames.

© All rights reserved Thompson et al. and/or their publisher

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Thimbleby, Harold and Cairns, Paul (2012): How good is this conference?: evaluating conference reviewing and selectivity. In: Proceedings of the HCI12 Conference on People and Computers XXVI 2012. pp. 410-415.

Peer reviewing of papers is the mainstay of modern academic publishing but it has well known problems. In this paper, we take a statistical modelling view to show a particular problem in the use of selectivity measures to indicate the quality of a conference. One key problem with the process of conference reviewing is the failure to make a useful feedback loop between the referees of the papers accepted at the conference and their importance, acceptance and relevance to the audience. In addition, we make some new criticisms of selectivity as a measure of quality. This paper is literally a work in progress because the 2012 BCS HCI itself conference will be used to close the feedback loop by making the connection between the reviews provided on papers and your (audience) perceptions of the papers. At the conference, participants will generate the results of this work.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and Cairns and/or their publisher

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Ribeiro, Richard, Kimble, Chris and Cairns, Paul (2010): Quantum phenomena in Communities of Practice. In International Journal of Information Management, 30 (1) pp. 21-27.

Although Communities of Practice have become a core concept in understanding how knowledge is managed within organizations, there have been few studies of the praxis of formation of Communities of Practice. In this article, we report on a Grounded Theory study of the members of a previously identified Community of Practice within the UK Higher Education Academy Psychology Network. In addition to providing data on the functioning of the community, the study also revealed a hitherto unrecognized form of community that exhibits all of the characteristics of CoPs yet has only a transient existence that seems to nucleate around an existing core community. Drawing on the metaphor of quantum behaviour, we termed these communities Quantum Communities of Practice. We describe a theory to explain this phenomenon that is grounded in the data from the study. We conclude by discussing the value and validity of our findings and methodology and indicating the next steps we will take in our research.

© All rights reserved Ribeiro et al. and/or Elsevier

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Blythe, Mark and Cairns, Paul (2010): Tenori-on stage: YouTube as performance space. In: Proceedings of the Sixth Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction 2010. pp. 72-81.

This paper reports findings from four related studies of the "Tenori-on" as it appears on YouTube in order to consider Web 2.0 as a performance space. A quantitative analysis of returns for "Tenori-on" attempts to model how posts achieve and maintain popularity. This analysis suggests sustained posting and engagement amongst users rather than initial product launch enthusiasm. A content analysis of the videos returned demonstrates a very different response to the launch of other technologies like the iPhone 3G. A grounded theory explores comments to the most viewed video returned which was a post by the artist Little Boots. A range of comments indicate virtual applause and suggest that YouTube has been appropriated here as a space for performance. Finally perspectives from critical theory are drawn on to consider the meanings of the Tenori-on in this user generated context and the ways users creatively resist the most obvious affordances of the device.

© All rights reserved Blythe and Cairns and/or their publisher

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Foster, Derek, Lawson, Shaun, Blythe, Mark and Cairns, Paul (2010): Wattsup?: motivating reductions in domestic energy consumption using social networks. In: Proceedings of the Sixth Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction 2010. pp. 178-187.

This paper reports on the design, deployment and evaluation of "Wattsup", an innovative application which displays live autonomously logged data from the Wattson energy monitor, allowing users to compare domestic energy consumption on Facebook. Discussions and sketches from a workshop with Facebook users were used to develop a final design implemented using the Facebook API. Wattson energy monitors and the Wattsup app were deployed and trialled in eight homes over an eighteen day period in two conditions. In the first condition participants could only access their personal energy data, whilst in the second they could access each others' data to make comparisons. A significant reduction in energy was observed in the socially enabled condition. Comments on discussion boards and semi-structured interviews with the participants indicated that the element of competition helped motivate energy savings. The paper argues that socially-mediated banter and competition made for a more enjoyable user experience.

© All rights reserved Foster et al. and/or their publisher

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Foster, Derek, Blythe, Mark, Cairns, Paul and Lawson, Shaun (2010): Competitive carbon counting: can social networking sites make saving energy more enjoyable?. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2010. pp. 4039-4044.

This paper reports on the design, deployment and initial evaluation of "Wattsup", an innovative Facebook application which displays live data from a commercial off-the-shelf energy monitor. The Wattsup application was deployed and trialled in eight homes over an eighteen day period in two conditions -- personal energy data viewable and friend's energy data viewable. A significant reduction in energy was observed in the socially enabled condition. The paper argues that socially-mediated discussion and competition made for a more enjoyable user experience.

© All rights reserved Foster et al. and/or their publisher

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Gmez, Eduardo H. Calvillo, Cairns, Paul, Gow, Jeremy, Back, Jonathan and Capstick, Eddie (2010): Video games as research instruments. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2010. pp. 4493-4496.

The workshop aims to help researchers share experience and expertise on the use of video games as research instruments in HCI and related disciplines. It will focus on existing uses, methodologies, results and issues with using video games, and is expected to lead to a better shared understanding of their current and future use across a variety of disciplines.

© All rights reserved Gmez et al. and/or their publisher

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Newman, William, Button, Graham and Cairns, Paul (2010): Pauses in doctor-patient conversation during computer use: The design significance of their durations and accompanying topic changes. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 68 (6) pp. 398-409.

Talk is often suspended during medical consultations while the clinician interacts with the patient's records and other information. This study of four general practitioners (GPs) focused on these suspensions and the adjacent conversational turns. Conversation analysis revealed how GPs took action to close conversations down prior to attending to the records, resulting in a 'free turn' that could be taken up by either GP or patient. The durations of the intervening pauses were also analysed, exposing a hitherto unobserved 10-second timeframe within which both GP and patient showed a preference for the conversation to be resumed. Resumption was more likely to be achieved within 10 s when the GP's records were paper-based rather than computer-based. Subsequent analysis of topic changes on resumption of talk has revealed a 5-second timeframe, also undocumented; when pauses exceed this timeframe, it is rare for the previous topic to be resumed without a restatement. Data recorded in the home suggest that these timeframes are also present in family conversations. We argue for considering the two timeframes when designing systems for use in medical consultations and other conversational settings, and discuss possible outcomes.

© All rights reserved Newman et al. and/or Academic Press

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Sulaiman, Suziah, Blandford, Ann and Cairns, Paul (2010): Haptic experience and the design of drawing interfaces. In Interacting with Computers, 22 (3) pp. 193-205.

Haptic feedback has the potential to enhance users' sense of being engaged and creative in their artwork. Current work on providing haptic feedback in computer-based drawing applications has focused mainly on the realism of the haptic sensation rather than the users' experience of that sensation in the context of their creative work. We present a study that focuses on user experience of three haptic drawing interfaces. These interfaces were based on two different haptic metaphors, one of which mimicked familiar drawing tools (such as pen, pencil or crayon on smooth or rough paper) and the other of which drew on abstract descriptors of haptic experience (roughness, stickiness, scratchiness and smoothness). It was found that users valued having control over the haptic sensation; that each metaphor was preferred by approximately half of the participants; and that the real world metaphor interface was considered more helpful than the abstract one, whereas the abstract interface was considered to better support creativity. This suggests that future interfaces for artistic work should have user-modifiable interaction styles for controlling the haptic sensation.

© All rights reserved Sulaiman et al. and/or Elsevier Science

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Sanders, Timothy and Cairns, Paul (2010): Time perception, immersion and music in videogames. In: Proceedings of the HCI10 Conference on People and Computers XXIV 2010. pp. 160-167.

People who play videogames often report the sense of immersion in the game with a particular feature of immersion being a loss of the sense of time passing. In this paper, we investigate if altering the degree of immersion in a videogame really does influence people's psychological perception of time passing. We use music to make a maze game more immersive and we measure time perception using two paradigms that are well-established in psychology. We find that the addition of music does alter time perception but only in one paradigm. Additionally, music was able to influence immersion by both increasing it or decreasing it depending on the choice of music. The overall picture is therefore complex but suggests that music could be an important factor in the perception of time whilst playing videogames.

© All rights reserved Sanders and Cairns and/or BCS

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Thimbleby, Harold and Cairns, Paul (2010): Reducing number entry errors: solving a widespread, serious problem. In Journal of The Royal Society Interface, 7 (51) pp. 1429-1439.

Number entry is ubiquitous: it is required in many fields including science, healthcare, education, government, mathematics and finance. People entering numbers are to be expected to make errors, but shockingly few systems make any effort to detect, block or otherwise manage errors. Worse, errors may be ignored but processed in arbitrary ways, with unintended results. A standard class of error (defined in the paper) is an out by 10 error', which is easily made by miskeying a decimal point or a zero. In safety-critical domains, such as drug delivery, out by 10 errors generally have adverse consequences. Here, we expose the extent of the problem of numeric errors in a very wide range of systems. An analysis of better error management is presented: under reasonable assumptions, we show that the probability of out by 10 errors can be halved by better user interface design. We provide a demonstration user interface to show that the approach is practical. To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact.(Charles Darwin 1879 [2008], p. 229)

© All rights reserved Thimbleby and Cairns and/or their publisher

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Blythe, Mark and Cairns, Paul (2009): Critical methods and user generated content: the iPhone on YouTube. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2009. pp. 1467-1476.

Sites like YouTube offer vast sources of data for studies of human computer interaction. However, they also present a number of methodological challenges. This paper offers an example study of the initial reception of the iPhone 3G through YouTube. It begins with a quantitative account of the overall shape of the most frequently viewed returns for an iPhone 3G" search. A content analysis of the first hundred videos then explores the returns categorized by genre. Comments on the most popular video "Will It Blend" are analysed using grounded theory. It is argued that social science methods are not sufficient for a rich understanding of such material. The paper concludes with an analysis of "Will it Blend" that draws on cultural and critical theory. It is argued that a multi-methodological approach is necessary to exploit such data and also to address the challenges of next generation Human Computer Interaction (HCI).

© All rights reserved Blythe and Cairns and/or ACM Press

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Jennett, Charlene, Cox, Anna L. and Cairns, Paul (2009): Investigating computer game immersion and the component real world dissociation. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2009 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2009. pp. 3407-3412.

In this paper we describe research being conducted to investigate the experience of computer game immersion, in particular the component "real world dissociation".

© All rights reserved Jennett et al. and/or ACM Press

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Craft, Brock and Cairns, Paul (2009): Sketching sketching: outlines of a collaborative design method. In: Proceedings of the HCI09 Conference on People and Computers XXIII 2009. pp. 65-72.

In this paper, we describe three key areas in the literature where sketching has been seen as being beneficial to designers. We applied this knowledge in the user interface design of a visualization system, conducting a qualitative study using sketching and design patterns. Our findings help to identify why sketching was useful in this context and we relate these to the literature on the efficacy of sketching in the design process.

© All rights reserved Craft and Cairns and/or their publisher

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Gmez, Eduardo H. Calvillo, Cairns, Paul and Cox, Anna L. (2009): From the gaming experience to the wider user experience. In: Proceedings of the HCI09 Conference on People and Computers XXIII 2009. pp. 520-523.

In this paper we discuss the different elements of the gaming experience and their relation to other concepts within HCI. The objective is to showcase how the different elements that form the gaming experience can be used to understand further issues regarding user experience. The objectives of games are, after all, to provide players with a positive experience. Understanding the elements that eventually lead players to have a positive experience should provide feedback about the wider user experience concept. Although video-games and non-game applications seem to be two different domains of study, in terms of experience, they both aim to improve the individual's experience.

© All rights reserved Gmez et al. and/or their publisher

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Schiller, Julie and Cairns, Paul (2008): There's always one!: modelling outlying user performance. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008. pp. 3513-3518.

Informal analysis of many usability tests suggests that there is regularly one participant that is substantially slower than all the others. Moreover, such outliers are more extreme and more frequent than would be predicted by a normal distribution. We propose using a rational model to explain the outliers and the work described here begins to parameterise the model based on empirical data to provide accurate analyses of user performance. This prediction appears to be correct and the model begins to reflect the outlying performance. Moreover, by using an executable model, we believe that it could be used in future as an analytical tool to help designers improve usability for those users who are struggling the most.

© All rights reserved Schiller and Cairns and/or ACM Press

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Attfield, Simon, Blandford, Ann, Dowell, John and Cairns, Paul (2008): Uncertainty-tolerant design: Evaluating task performance and drag-and-link information gathering for a news-writing task. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 20 (6) pp. 410-424.

Part of the challenge of designing systems to support knowledge work is to do so in a way which is sympathetic to users' uncertainty. NewsHarvester is a test-bed system designed to support news research and writing in a way that accommodates uncertainty in relation to information gathering. It does this using 'drag-and-link'; a simple feature by which text extracts copied from source locations are appended with hyperlinks to force the re-display of the source. We describe the rationale for using drag-and-link within NewHarvester based on a previous ethnographic study of journalists, describe its implementation within NewsHarvester, and report a user-evaluation which compared drag-and-link with printing and standard drag-and-drop as information gathering mechanisms. We found that users wanted to relocate information they had not previously identified as useful in order to include it in their report, to better understand the context of information already extracted, and as part of a more serendipitous search for information to add to a near-complete report. Users also considered drag-and-link an easier method for gathering information than printing, and considered that drag-and-link made it easier to relocate information. They also considered that drag-and-link promoted more flexible and dynamic working and increased user enjoyment. An assessment of the quality of their work showed a trend that favoured drag-and-link over the other two methods, although this was not statistically significant. We conclude that drag-and-link improves user-experience during research and writing tasks in the face of information gathering uncertainty.

© All rights reserved Attfield et al. and/or Academic Press

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Jennett, Charlene, Cox, Anna L., Cairns, Paul, Dhoparee, Samira, Epps, Andrew, Tijs, Tim and Walton, Alison (2008): Measuring and defining the experience of immersion in games. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 20 (9) pp. 641-661.

Despite the word's common usage by gamers and reviewers alike, it is still not clear what immersion means. This paper explores immersion further by investigating whether immersion can be defined quantitatively, describing three experiments in total. The first experiment investigated participants' abilities to switch from an immersive to a non-immersive task. The second experiment investigated whether there were changes in participants' eye movements during an immersive task. The third experiment investigated the effect of an externally imposed pace of interaction on immersion and affective measures (state anxiety, positive affect, negative affect). Overall the findings suggest that immersion can be measured subjectively (through questionnaires) as well as objectively (task completion time, eye movements). Furthermore, immersion is not only viewed as a positive experience: negative emotions and uneasiness (i.e. anxiety) also run high.

© All rights reserved Jennett et al. and/or Academic Press

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Seah, May-li and Cairns, Paul (2008): From Immersion to Addiction in Videogames. In: Proceedings of the HCI08 Conference on People and Computers XXII 2008. pp. 55-63.

Immersion is commonly described by gamers and game-reviewers as an important aspect of a videogame. In this paper, we investigate the relationship between the immersive experience of videogames and the addictive nature of games. Building on Charlton's (2002) study of addiction and engagement in computing, we conducted a questionnaire study of people who play videogames. It seems that videogames blur the distinction between addiction and high engagement even more than generic computing. In a follow up diary study, the degree of immersion whilst playing was found to be strongly correlated (r=0.763) with the addiction/engagement score. Overall, these studies suggest that the degree of immersive experience is closely related to how addictive or engaging people find videogames and moreover that addiction seems to be an extreme form of engagement and immersion.

© All rights reserved Seah and Cairns and/or their publisher

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Oshlyansky, Lidia, Cairns, Paul, Sasse, Angela and Harrison, Chandra (2008): The Challenges Faced by Academia Preparing Students for Industry: What We Teach and What We Do. In: Proceedings of the HCI08 Conference on People and Computers XXII 2008. pp. 203-204.

This workshop re-opens the discussion of the challenges faced by academia when preparing students to take jobs in industry. The workshop's goal is to develop a framework by which academia and industry can better communicate and resolve their differing needs and goals. The workshop will provide practical guidance for academia and industry to take forward and continue the dialogue.

© All rights reserved Oshlyansky et al. and/or their publisher

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Cox, Anna L., Cairns, Paul, Thimbleby, Harold and Webb, Natalie (2008): Research Methods for HCI. In: Proceedings of the HCI08 Conference on People and Computers XXII 2008. pp. 221-222.

The aim of the tutorial is to help researchers, particularly early career researchers, to develop the appropriate skills to make a useful research contribution to Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). This is in recognition of the fact that HCI draws on a wide variety of disciplines which means that there is a wide variety of methods that a researcher could use and moreover new researchers may have education or experience in only a small fraction of the methods available.

© All rights reserved Cox et al. and/or their publisher

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Cairns, Paul and Thimbleby, Harold (2008): Affordance and symmetry in user interfaces. In The Computer Journal, 51 (6) pp. 650-661.

Affordance is a widely used term in human–computer interaction (HCI) that, while familiar and attractive, does not have a clear operational definition. Using the mathematical concept of symmetry, this paper shows that it is possible to begin developing an operational definition for significant aspects of affordance by forming the theoretical concept of symmetry-affordance. The proposed definition restricts symmetry-affordance to particular contexts but in doing so makes it more useful, as it is clear how to exploit symmetry to aid design. The definition is in standard mathematics (in fact, group theory and model theory) and requires little additional structure. In examining symmetry-affordance, it becomes clear that some other HCI notions can be similarly interpreted by symmetry. The paper provides examples and design insights.

© All rights reserved Cairns and Thimbleby and/or Oxford University Press

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Cairns, Paul and Cox, Anna (2008): Research Methods for Human-Computer Interaction. Cambridge University Press

Human-Computer Interaction draws on the fields of computer science, psychology, cognitive science, and organisational and social sciences in order to understand how people use and experience interactive technology. Until now, researchers have been forced to return to the individual subjects to learn about research methods and how to adapt them to the particular challenges of HCI. This is the first book to provide a single resource through which a range of commonly used research methods in HCI are introduced. Chapters are authored by internationally leading HCI researchers who use examples from their own work to illustrate how the methods apply in an HCI context. Each chapter also contains key references to help researchers find out more about each method as it has been used in HCI. Topics covered include experimental design, use of eyetracking, qualitative research methods, cognitive modelling, how to develop new methodologies and writing up your research.

© All rights reserved Cairns and Cox and/or Cambridge University Press

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Adams, Anne, Lunt, Peter and Cairns, Paul (2008): A qualitative approach to HCI research. In: Cairns, Paul and Cox, Anna (eds.). "Research Methods for Human-Computer Interaction". Cambridge University Presspp. 138-157

Whilst science has a strong reliance on quantitative and experimental methods, there are many complex, socially based phenomena in HCI that cannot be easily quantified or experimentally manipulated or, for that matter, ethically researched with experiments. For example, the role of privacy in HCI is not obviously reduced to numbers and it would not be appropriate to limit a person's privacy in the name of research. In addition, technology is rapidly changing – just think of developments in mobile devices, tangible interfaces and so on – making it harder to abstract technology from the context of use if we are to study it effectively. Developments such as mediated social networking and the dispersal of technologies in ubiquitous computing also loosen the connection between technologies and work tasks that were the traditional cornerstone of HCI. Instead, complex interactions between technologies and ways of life are coming to the fore. Consequently, we frequently find that we do not know what the real HCI issues are before we start our research. This makes it hard, if not actually impossible, to define the variables necessary to do quantitative research, (see Chapter 2). Within HCI, there is also the recognition that the focus on tasks is not enough to design and implement an effective system. There is also a growing need to understand how usability issues are subjectively and collectively experienced and perceived by different user groups (Pace, 2004; Razavim and Iverson, 2006). This means identifying the users' emotional and social drives and perspectives; their motivations, expectations, trust, identity, social norms and so on. It also means relating these concepts to work practices, communities and organisational social structures as well as organisational, economic and political drivers. These issues are increasingly needed in the design, development and implementation of systems to be understood both in isolation and as a part of the whole. HCI researchers are therefore turning to more qualitative methods in order to deliver the research results that HCI needs.With qualitative research, the emphasis is not on measuring and producing numbers but instead on understanding the qualities of a particular technology and how people use it in their lives, how they think about it and how they feel about it. There are many varied approaches to qualitative research within the social sciences depending on what is being studied, how it can be studied and what the goals of the research are.Within HCI, though, grounded theory has been found to provide good insights that address well the issues raised above (Pace, 2004; Adams, Blandford and Lunt, 2005; Razavim and Iverson, 2006). The purpose of this chapter is to give an overview of how grounded theory works as a method. Quantitative research methods adopt measuring instruments and experimental manipulations that can be repeated by any researcher (at least in principle) and every effort is made to reduce the influence of the researcher on the researched, which is regarded as a source of bias or error. In contrast, in qualitative research, where the goal is understanding rather than measuring and manipulating, the subjectivity of the researcher is an essential part of the production of an interpretation. The chapter therefore discusses how the influence of the researcher can be ameliorated through the grounded theory methodology whilst also acknowledging the subjective input of the researcher through reflexivity. The chapter also presents a case study of how grounded theory was used in practice to study people's use and understanding of computer passwords and related security.

© All rights reserved Adams et al. and/or Cambridge University Press

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Cairns, Paul and Cox, Anna L. (2008): Research Methods in Human-Computer Interaction. Cambridge University Press

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Oshlyansky, Lidia, Thimbleby, Harold and Cairns, Paul (2004): Breaking affordance: culture as context. In: Proceedings of the Third Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction October 23-27, 2004, Tampere, Finland. pp. 81-84.

The concept of affordance as it applies to user interface design is widely used and accepted; possibly overused. This paper explores one of the constraints on affordance: culture. Graduate and undergraduate students in the United Kingdom and the United States were surveyed and asked to make judgements about the behaviour of abstracted Western-like objects. The study clearly shows that UK subjects thought the down position of a light switch indicates it is "ON"; for their US counterparts it was "OFF." We suggest that context (in the case of this study, culture) is often overlooked, but is central to affordance, to computer interface design, as well as to action and activity more generally.

© All rights reserved Oshlyansky et al. and/or ACM Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

: [Not yet published]

 Cited in the following chapter:

: [Not yet published]

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Thimbleby, Harold, Cairns, Paul and Jones, Matt (2001): Usability analysis with Markov models. In ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 8 (2) pp. 99-132.

How hard to users to find interactive devices to use to achieve their goals, and how can we get this information early enough to influence design? We show that Markov modeling can obtain suitable measures, and we provide formulas that can be used for a large class of systems. We analyze and consider alternative designs for various real examples. We introduce a "knowldege/usability graph," which shows the impact of even a smaller amount of knowledge for the user, and the extent to which designers' knowledge may bias their views of usability. Markov models can be built into design tools, and can therefore be made very convenient for designers to utilize. One would hope that in the future, design tools would include such mathematical analysis, and no new design skills would be required to evaluate devices. A particular concern of this paper is to make the approach accessible. Complete program code and all the underlying mathematics are provided in appendices to enable others to replicate and test all results shown.

© All rights reserved Thimbleby et al. and/or ACM Press

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