Share and share alike: Exploring the user interface affordances of file sharing
With the rapid growth of personal computer networks and the Internet, sharing files has become a central activity in computer use. The ways in which users control the what, how, and with whom of sharing are dictated by the tools they use for sharing; there are a wide range of sharing practices, and hence a wide range of tools to support these practices. In practice, users’ requirements for certain sharing features may dictate their choice of tool, even though the other affordances available through that tool may not be an ideal match to the desired manner of sharing. In this paper, we explore users’ current practices in file sharing and examine the tools used to share files. Based on our findings, we unpack the features and affordances of these tools into a set of dimensions along which sharing tools can be characterized. Then, we present the set of user interface features we have prototyped in an interface called a sharing palette, which provides a platform for exploration and experimentation with new modalities of sharing. We briefly present the tool as a whole and then focus on the individual features of the sharing palette that support reported styles of sharing.