Instant messaging (IM) has been widely used as a medium for many aspects of social communication. Although IM allows people to interact with others almost instantly without complete interruption to their on-going activities, the messages can be very distracting when IM becomes a major communication channel.
IM interaction is very limited in communicating non-verbal cues compared to Face-to-Face encounters. For example, if someone is trying to avoid a conversation with someone at the office, he may put on his headphones without music on or avoid eye contact with that person when he walks by him.
Current IM systems features are very limited in supporting user with a need to express or make a decision on whether it is appropriate to have a conversation with another user. An opportunity exists to support IM users to express availability, current context of use, and current emotional state to increase the negotiation of availability for IM messaging. I have iteratively designed and tested an IM prototype that allows people to communicate in more natural ways.
Master Thesis Project. Completion date: May 2003
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