Complex Multi-user Interfaces
Martha E. Crosbyand David N. Chin University of Hawaii
Computers are capable of instantly providing large amounts of information to users. Unfortunately, it takes time to sift through large amounts of data to find what is needed and critical data may escape the user's notice. In time-critical applications such as crisis management, delays from search or overlooked information can have life and death consequences. To help users, computer systems can use a user model to reduce the information load by presenting only data that is relevant to the user's current task (user-model-based informationfiltering). Unfortunately, there have been few, if any, experimental studies to verify the conditions under which user-model-based information-filtering leads to improved user performance in time-critical tasks. Indeed, even the utility of information filtering is as yet an unproved speculation. It may be that in (some) situations, some amount of context (which is not strictly needed for the task) helps (some) users situate themselves, thus leading to better performance. For example, in finding routes, landmarks pictured on a map are not be absolutely necessary and some people may even find them distracting, but many others find them helpful. This paper describes two controlled experiments conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of user-model-based information-filtering techniques for reducing the cognitive load of users in time-critical crisis-management situations.
The purpose of experiment 1 was to determine the extent that different types of complexity (map or task) influenced the accuracy of the participants ability to find an optimum route (as measured by the number of intersections) from a fire station to a fire. The map background condition was either simple or complex.