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Effects of Instant Messaging on the Management of Multiple Project Trajectories

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2004, 00:00 by Susan R. Fussell, Sara Kiesler, Leslie D. Setlock, Peter Scupelli, Suzanne Weisband
We present a study of the effects of instant messaging (IM) on individuals’ management of work across multiple collaborative projects. Groups of four participants completed four web design tasks. Each participant worked on two tasks, each task with a different partner who was either co-located or remote, connected via IM. In one condition, each participant had one co-located and one remote partner. In a second condition, both partners were remote. We examined communication, division of labor, and task performance as a function of condition. The results indicated that nearly all participants divided their time unequally between projects, but less unequally in the remote/remote condition. In the co-located/remote condition, participants favored the task with the co-located partner. The results show that the effects of IM differ depending on people’s multiple tasks are distributed across space. We propose a new IM interface that promotes awareness of multiple collaborators on multiple tasks.


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“© ACM, (2004). This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of ACM for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in the Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems {1-58113-702-8 (2004)}