A Design Space Analysis of Availability-Sharing Systems
Workplace collaboration often requires interruptions, which can happen at inopportune times. Designing a successful availability-sharing system requires finding the right balance to optimize the benefits and reduce costs for both the interrupter and interruptee. In this paper, we examine the design space of availability-sharing systems and identify six relevant design dimensions: abstraction, presentation, information delivery, symmetry, obtrusiveness and temporal gradient. We describe these dimensions in terms of the tensions between interrupters and interruptees revealed in previous studies of workplace collaboration and deployments of awareness systems. As a demonstration of the utility of our design space, we introduce InterruptMe, a novel availability-sharing system that represents a previously unexplored point in the design space and that balances the tensions between interrupters and interruptees. InterruptMe differs from previous systems in that it displays availability information only when needed by monitoring implicit inputs from the system’s users, implements a traceable asymmetry structure, and introduces the notion of per-communications channel availability.