Dec 2, 2005

Email training significantly reduces email defects

Paper from the Computer Science Department, Loughborough University, UK.

Organisations are now becoming aware of the problems associated with email use and are keen to reduce these defects.

These email defects relate to the ineffective way that email is used within organisations, and are not only limited to the volume of email that is sent and received, but also the quality of the email content.

Email defects lead to inefficiencies within the workplace as employees spend more time dealing with email rather than doing other aspects of their job.

This paper firstly examines how email is used within a large organisation and highlights the defects associated with email.

The initial results show that these defects affect some groups of employees more than others. The paper also reports on the effectiveness of email training in reducing the defects associated with email use.

The results show that some of these defects are related and that training can significantly reduce some of the email defects and improve the way people write emails.

See the paper in .PDF format...

May 12, 2005

Some of the most frequently used emoticons in e-mails

In 1979 "emoticons" (emotion + icon) appeared in order to add some emotional meanings to e-mails.

But we can say tha emoticons reflects our limitations because we can’t convey sufficient emotions through our writing, like fiction or proffesional writers do without graphic decorations.

Emoticons are often inadequate because the most important components of interpersonal communications are paralinguistic or non-verbal.

Anyway, these are some of the most frequently used emoticons in e-mails:

:-) = Happy face with nose
:) = Happy face without nose
;-) = Winking face with nose
;) = Winking face without nose
:-D = Laughter
8-) = Surprised happy face
:-( = Sad face with nose
:( = Sad face without nose
:’( = Sad face crying
8-O = Surprised face with nose
=O = Very surprised of startled
:-\ = Unpleasant face
:-| = Serious face
:-X = "My lips are sealed", or "silent"
:-b = Sticking the tong mockingly
8-P = My mouth is watering, with eyes open wide
<3 = A heart or "I love you"
0:-) = "I am a saint", "I am innocent"
:-* = Kiss

Apr 8, 2005

Some common acronyms used on emails

Acronyms: A word (as NATO, or FBI) formed from the initial letter or letters of each of the successive parts or major parts of a compound term. See Merriam-Webster.

* BTW: By The Way.

* FYI: For Your Information. FYI often means that a response isn't expected. An the primary purpose of FYI is to indicate that it's something of low importance.

* NRN: No Response Needed. Sometimes, without body language, it isn't clear when an email-based conversation should be ended.

* IMHO: In My Humble, or Honest Opinion.

* RTFM: Read The Manual ("Manual" here refers to any documentation).

* LOL: [I] Laughed Out Loud (at what you wrote).

* ROTFL: [I am] Rolling On The Floor Laughing (at what you wrote).

* RSN: Real Soon Now

* TIA: Thanks In Advance.

Of course, there are others. You can add them. Welcome.

Mar 11, 2005

A theory of information scent

A paper from Peter Pirolli, from PARC, presenting a detailed theory and computational models of the psychology of information scent.

Information scent refers to the detection and use of cues, such as World Wide Web links or bibliographic citations that provide users with concise information about content that is not immediately available.

The information scent cues play an important role in guiding users to the information they seek, and they also play a role in providing users with an overall sense of the contents of collections.

In order to make navigation choices, foragers have a preference function for evaluating interface objects and actions, and a choice rule for selecting among those alternatives based on those evaluations. These evaluations are based on proximal cues on user interfaces.

Evaluation involves a categorization problem in which the information forager must be able to go from past experience and the available proximal cues to infer unobserved features of the distal items.

Models developed in this theory of information scent can predict where people will navigate or what information resources they will select based on their information need.

This also let you to understand what are some reading habits of emails recivers.

More info about this theory of Peter Pirolli click here.

Feb 19, 2005

The cost of e-mail interruption at the workplace

The use of email by employees at a british company was studied and it was found that the interrupt effect from emails is more than generally believed.

Employees allowed themselves to be interrupted almost as frequently as telephone calls, and the common reaction to the arrival of an email is to react almost as quickly as they would respond to telephone calls.

This means the interrupt effect is comparable with that of a telephone call.

The recovery time from an email interruption was found to be significantly less than the published recovery time for telephone calls.

It is to be concluded that while Email is still less disruptive than the telephone, the way the majority of users handle their incoming email has been shown to give far more interruption than expected.

By analysing the data captured the authors have been able to create recommendations for a set of guidelines for email usage within the workplace that will increase employee efficiency by reducing the prominence of interruptions, restricting the use of email-to-all messages, setting-up the email application to display three lines of the email and to check for email less frequently.

It is recommended that training should be given to staff on how to use email more effectively to increase employee productivity.

Most email applications allow different means of notifying the user of incoming email. These different means can give different levels of intrusion, as some are easier to ignore than others.

For example a prominent sound accompanying a pop up dialog box that requires a response, has a far more intrusive effect than a small icon that appears in one corner of the screen, yet the user is just as aware of the incoming email whichever is used.

A less intrusive notification may encourage users to respond in their own time at a moment which is more convenient for them as it will give less of an interruption to their concentration on the job in hand.

It is notable that many of the email messages employees received were not really relevant to for them.

This usually resulted from an email sent to all employees. This was particularly true when employees used a reply-to-all message when the whole company received the message yet it was often only useful to one or two individuals.

To reduce this problem employees should be encouraged to restrict their use of email-to-all messages, and especially reply-to-all messages.

This may be achieved through better education and training on the use of email. A further encouragement may be to provide more targeted user groups to allow employees to be more selective about who they contact.

More info -->

Jan 16, 2005

Computer mediated communicatios effects

This research is about team trust development.

When virtual teams need to establish trust at a distance, it is advantageous for them to use rich media to communicate.

A Universitu of Michigan research team studied the emergence of trust in a social dilemma game in four different communication situations: face-to-face, video, audio, and text chat.

All three of the richer conditions were significant improvements over text chat.

Video and audio conferencing groups were nearly as good as face-toface, but both did show some evidence of what we term delayed trust (slower progress toward full cooperation) and fragile trust (vulnerability to opportunistic behavior).

Computer-Mediated Communications may delay trust formation by slowing the rate at which individuals can gather nonverbal cues about partners’ trustworthiness.

See more on the paper->