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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Email flow awareness and deferral strategies Siu, Nelson


The investigative methods traditionally employed by email researchers do not adequately capture the intricacies of email use over an entire day. This thesis improves upon these methods by using a novel combination of daylong in-situ shadowing and passive interface monitoring to provide new insights into how new messages are handled. The findings revealed previously undocumented actions for dealing with email on an ongoing basis, and showed that deferred message handling is a critical usage strategy that has been understudied. Interface logs were used to explore the defer action further and identified two types of email deferral: intra-session and inter-session deferral. This investigation highlights the frequent use of email as a real-time task and attention management tool, and demonstrates why this usage should be supported within email clients. This thesis finally makes the recommendation that future interface improvements should provide more flexible and lightweight mechanisms for integrating email into the user's workflow.

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