Conceptual Misfits in Email-based Current Awareness Interaction
Purpose - This research aims to identify some requirements for supporting user interactions with electronic current-awareness alert systems based on data from a professional work environment.
Design/methodology/approach - Qualitative data was gathered using contextual inquiry observations with twenty-one workers at the London office of an international law firm. The analysis uses CASSM ('Concept-based Analysis of Surface and Structural Misfits'), a usability evaluation method structured around identifying mismatches, or 'misfits', between user-concepts and concepts represented within a system.
Findings - Participants were frequently overwhelmed by email alerts, and a key requirement is to support efficient interaction. Several misfits which act as barriers to efficient reviewing and follow-on activities are demonstrated. These relate to a lack of representation of key user-concepts at the interface and/or within the system, including alert items and their properties, source documents, 'back-story', primary sources, content categorisations and user collections.
Research limitations/implications - Given these misfits we derive a set of requirements to improve the efficiency with which users can achieve key outcomes with current-awareness information as these occur within a professional work environment.
Originality/value - The findings will be of interest to current-awareness providers. The approach is relevant to information interaction researchers interested in deriving design requirements from naturalistic studies.