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Comparing episodic and semantic interfaces for task boundary identification Safer, Izzet

Abstract

Multi-tasking is a common activity for computer users. Many recent approaches to help support a user in multi-tasking require the user to indicate the start (and at least implicitly) end points of tasks manually. Although there has been some work aimed at inferring the boundaries of a user's tasks, it is not yet robust enough to replace the manual approach. Unfortunately with the manual approach, a user can sometimes forget to identify a task boundary, leading to erroneous information being associated with a task or appropriate information being missed. These problems degrade the effectiveness of the multi-tasking support. In this thesis, we describe two interfaces we designed to support task boundary identification. One interface stresses the use of episodic memory for recalling the boundary of a task; the other stresses the use of semantic memory. We investigate these interfaces in the context of software development. We report on an exploratory study of the use of these two interfaces by twelve programmers. We found that the programmers determined task boundaries more accurately with the episodic memory-based interface and that this interface was also strongly preferred.

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