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Jonathan Grudin <[log in to unmask]>
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Jonathan Grudin <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 9 Feb 2002 00:05:53 -0800
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Submission due date: June 30, 2002

ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction is soliciting
manuscripts for a special issue on Modeling Multiple and
Collaborative Tasks, described in detail below by the guest editors.

Task analysis and modeling have long been major topics in HCI and
CHI. Confusion has arisen from differences in focus: Sometimes the
former is assumed to be a cognitive task analysis, applied to a task
such as selecting and moving a block of text, other times it is
assumed to be an organizational task analysis such as the multi-step
handling of a loan application form. Modeling, too, is applied with
varying scope. Nevertheless the ultimate focus has been the
performance of single tasks by individuals. As software increasingly
encompasses communication, information sharing, and coordination
across groups and different tasks, the scope is being broadened. This
special issue, edited by three researchers who have for decades
worked on developing more sophisticated approaches to task analysis
and modeling, aims to bring together work that extends the reach of
these important activities.

Jonathan Grudin


A Special Issue of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI).
Special issue editors: Hilary Johnson, Jon May, Peter Johnson.

This is a call for papers which extend task analysis or other
modeling approaches to provide systematic understanding of multiple
and collaborative activities, and which contribute to the design of
technologies to support those activities.

The motivation for this special issue is the need to understand how
people work individually, on one or more tasks, and collaboratively
in groups.  There is also a corresponding need to generate task,
individual and collaborative user requirements, to devise design
solutions for systems that are usable, and to systematically evaluate
those design solutions and systems. Rich and interesting forms of
human activity occur across and within a range of complex and varied
domains and environments. There are currently two related challenges
to be addressed by human computer interaction.  The first challenge
is to develop principled approaches to describing, modeling and
understanding these forms of individual and collaborative human
activity.  The second challenge is how to provide effective input to
the development of computer and software technologies to support
multitasking and collaborative work activities.

In the past task analysis has provided one solution to modeling human
activity. However, the majority of approaches to analyzing and
modeling tasks have concentrated on individual tasks with clearly
defined goals and start and end points.  There has been much less
focus on analyzing and modeling individual or collaborative tasks
that are undertaken in parallel or are interleaved.  These often
occur in dynamically changing environments, and with additional
challenges, such as interruptions or the occurrence of continuous
activities supported by sophisticated and increasingly mobile
technologies.  The work can involve teams where membership changes
frequently depending on the different roles of the team members and
the team as a whole. Technological support for these activities is
predominantly a desktop, direct manipulation user interface. This
inflicts a style of interaction and a manner of working that
constrains users by serializing and trivializing what would otherwise
be complex, parallel tasks.  There is an overwhelming need to provide
better support for these forms of human activity.

On the other hand, much of the progress in collaborative systems has
involved the development of technologies to provide  functionality
assumed to be needed in areas such as access control to, and sharing
and distribution of, data and resources. This functionality may also
attempt to support "awareness" of people, and/or events (for example,
the ability to see and/or hear each other's actions and identities).
In addition, ethnographic studies have been undertaken in a variety
of situations and domains, focused on activities which are a
fundamental part of those domains. The lack of a clear link between
these analytical, empirical and ethnographic studies, and the
development of supporting technologies, is a potential problem. There
is a need for a systematic understanding of how collaborative
activities are or could be improved, supported or hindered by such

We welcome theoretical contributions which address the issues of
identifying and understanding the core concepts in multiple and
collaborative human activities, and which outline the most important
issues to be addressed by current and future approaches to
multitasking and collaboration.

We also welcome analytical, empirical and practical contributions
which might arise as a result of conducting case studies in multiple
and collaborative tasks, where the underlying philosophy, approach to
data collection and modeling, and behavior can be generalized to
other related human activities.

All contributions will be rigorously peer reviewed to the usual
exacting standard of TOCHI. Further information, including TOCHI
submission procedures and advice on formatting and preparing your
manuscript, can be found at <>. Please
indicate in your cover letter that you are submitting a contribution
to the special issue on "Modeling multiple and collaborative tasks".
To discuss a possible contribution, please contact one of the
following special issue editors:

Hilary Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Jon May <[log in to unmask]>
Peter Johnson <[log in to unmask]>

The deadline for contributions is 30 June, 2002.

Jonathan Grudin, Editor
ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction     Email: [log in to unmask]
Microsoft Research                                   Web:
One Microsoft Way                                     Phone: (425) 706-0784
Redmond, WA 98052-6399  USA                             Fax: (425) 706-7329