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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Designing for authoring and sharing of advanced personalization Haraty, Mona


Interactive technologies have become prevalent in all aspects of life including managing our tasks, looking for information, and connecting with others. We often adapt our behaviors, consciously or unconsciously, to accommodate the technology. The unique nature of our needs and preferences, and how they change over time are better supported with technologies that are designed to be personalizable. Lack of personalization facilities limits our range of behaviors. In this dissertation, we focus on understanding and supporting differences in individuals’ behaviors through forms of personalization that are beyond choosing among a set of predefined options, by allowing users to author new functionalities. We refer to such personalizations as “advanced personalizations.” Authoring advanced personalizations, when supported, is often time-consuming and requires programming skills. Consequently, either because of lack of ability or time, many users take advantage of personalizations created and shared by others. The overarching goal of this dissertation is to design for authoring and sharing of advanced personalizations. We explore this goal in the domain of personal task management (PTM), where rich individual differences deeply influence user behavior and tool use. First, to gain insights into individual differences in PTM as well as changes in PTM behaviors over time, we conducted a series of studies: a focus group and contextual interviews in an academic setting, a large survey questionnaire with a broader population, and follow-up interviews with some of the survey respondents. These studies provide insights into different types of advanced perosnalizations that a PTM tool needs to support. Next, we designed a personalizable PTM tool with two key components for authoring advanced personalizations, building on ideas from end user programming approaches, and following theoretical guidelines on designing personalizable tools such as meta-design guidelines. A controlled user study of our design revealed opportunities and challenges in supporting advanced personalization, and our detailed design process provides a practical starting point for designing personalizable tools. Finally, through studying personalization sharing practices, we characterized the multi-faceted nature of online personalization sharing ecosystems, which include multiple components for hosting personalizations, discussing, and managing them. Our findings also highlight tradeoffs and design considerations in such ecosystems.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International