Smart home technologies, designed to make our lives easier by controlling our homes with the click of a button, can also be key drivers of inequity and abuse. In this paper, we use a series of case studies drawn from the literature, news media, from online forums to demonstrate how smart home technology can be used to monitor and control intimate partners (and by extension other family members). We demonstrate that the very features of these technologies that afford convenience are the same ones that facilitate monitoring, control and abuse. This is a departure from the existing HCI literature on abuse, which has predominantly focused on the use of mobile phones and social media, and addressed stalking, harassment and revenge pornography. We position the smart home as a mediator of coercive control and call on the HCI community to better understand this type of abuse and design technologies to prevent, rather than facilitate it.
We present a system for connecting partners in long-distance relationships in bedrooms and at bedtime, a space and time that most couples share. Unlike communications explicitly initiated by users, our system is always-on, staying in the background and enabling remote presence without constant use. We present findings from a field study in which the system was deployed into participants’ bedrooms. The system includes an automated photo-stream (rather than video), which was found to provide a balance between the feeling of presence and privacy, and to remove the pressure to communicate. The system also includes a real-time shared inking canvas with disappearing ink, which was found to provide a rich versatile medium allowing for new patterns of communication, live interventions, and collaborative drawing. Learnings from how our system balances privacy and remote connectedness may also have relevance for other domains such as remote healthcare and education.
With the growing ubiquity of wearable devices, sensed physiological responses provide new means to connect with others. While recent research demonstrates the expressive potential for biosignals, the value of sharing these personal data remains unclear. To understand their role in communication, we created Significant Otter, an Apple Watch/iPhone app that enables romantic partners to share and respond to each other’s biosignals in the form of animated otter avatars. In a one-month study with 20 couples, participants used Significant Otter with biosignals sensing OFF and ON. We found that while sensing OFF enabled couples to keep in touch, sensing ON enabled easier and more authentic communication that fostered social connection. However, the addition of biosignals introduced concerns about autonomy and agency over the messages they sent. We discuss design implications and future directions for communication systems that recommend messages based on biosignals.
Social media platforms continue to evolve as archival platforms, where important milestones in an individual's life are socially disclosed for support, solidarity, maintaining and gaining social capital, or to meet therapeutic needs. However, a limited understanding of how and what life events are disclosed (or not) prevents designing platforms to be sensitive to life events. We ask what life events individuals disclose on a 256 participants’ year-long Facebook dataset of 14K posts against their self-reported life events. We contribute a codebook to identify life event disclosures and build regression models on factors explaining life events’ disclosures. Positive and anticipated events are more likely, whereas significant, recent, and intimate events are less likely to be disclosed on social media. While all life events may not be disclosed, online disclosures can reflect complementary information to self-reports. Our work bears practical and platform design implications in providing support and sensitivity to life events.
Music fans strategically support their artists. Their collective efforts can extend to social causes as well: In 2020 for example, ARMY—the fandom of the music group BTS—successfully organized the #MatchAMillion campaign to raise over one million USD to support Black Lives Matter. To better understand factors of fandoms' collaborative success for arguably unrelated social goals, we conducted a survey focusing on ARMYs' perceptions of their fandom and their social effort. Most ARMYs viewed the fandom as a community, loosely structured with pillar accounts. They reported trust in each other as well as high team composition, which mediated the relationship between their neutral psychological safety and high efficacy. Respondents attributed their success in #MatchAMillion to shared values, good teamwork, and established infrastructure. Our findings elucidate contextual factors that contribute to ARMY's collaborative success and highlight themes that may be applied to studying other fandoms and their collaborative efforts.
Live streaming is a rapidly growing industry, with millions of content creators using platforms like Twitch to share games, art, and other activities. However, with this rise in popularity, most streamers often fail to attract viewers and grow their platforms. Analytic tools—which have shown success in other business and learning contexts—may be one potential solution, but their use in streaming settings remains unexplored. In this study, we focused on game streaming and interviewed 18 game streamers on Twitch and Mixer about their information needs and current use of tools, supplemented by explorations into their Discord communities. We find that streamers have a range of content, marketing, and community information needs, many of which are not being met by available tools. We conclude with design implications for developing more streamer-centered analytics for video game streamers.
Loneliness threatens public mental wellbeing during COVID-19. In response, YouTube creators participated in the #StayHome #WithMe movement (SHWM) and made myriad videos for people experiencing loneliness or boredom at home. User-shared videos generate parasocial attachment and virtual connectedness. However, there is limited knowledge of how creators contributed videos during disasters to provide social provisions as disaster-relief. Grounded on Weiss's loneliness theory, this work analyzed 1488 SHWM videos to examine video sharing as a pathway to social provisions. Findings suggested that skill and knowledge sharing, entertaining arts, homelife activities, live chatting, and gameplay were the most popular video styles. YouTubers utilized parasocial relationships to form a space for staying away from the disaster. SHWM YouTubers provided friend-like, mentor-like, and family-like provisions through videos in different styles. Family-like provisions led to the highest overall viewer engagement. Based on the findings, design implications for supporting viewers' mental wellbeing in disasters are discussed.
The growing number of video chat users includes socially anxious people, but it is not known how video chat interfaces affect their interpersonal interactions. In our first study, we use a get-to-know-you task to show that when video feedback of oneself is disabled, higher social anxiety is associated with more public self-awareness, use of 2nd person pronouns, and experienced anxiety. Higher social anxiety was linked to discussing more topics, but discussing more topics only elicited higher self-disclosure and trust when social anxiety was low. In our second study, we assess these same effects using a presentation layout video chat interface and observe no effects of social anxiety on public self-awareness, 2nd person pronoun use, or number of topics discussed; no effect of feedback on experienced anxiety; and no link between number of topics and self-disclosure. Video chat adopters and designers should consider how feedback and interface layout affect conversations.
Even though today’s videoconferencing systems are often very useful, these systems do not provide support for one of the most important aspects of in-person meetings: the ad hoc, private conversations that happen before, after, and during the breaks of scheduled events—the proverbial hallway conversations. Here we describe our design of a simple system, called Minglr, which supports this kind of interaction by facilitating the matching of conversational partners. We describe two studies of this system’s use at two virtual conferences with over 450 total participants. Our results provide evidence for the usefulness of this capability, showing that, for example, 81% of people who used the system successfully thought that future virtual conferences should include a tool with similar functionality. We expect similar functionality to be useful for many other business and social meetings, thus increasing the desirability of many kinds of remote work and socializing.
An estimated 100,000 people work today as commercial content moderators. These moderators are often exposed to disturbing content, which can lead to lasting psychological and emotional distress. This literature review investigates moderators' psychological symptomatology, drawing on other occupations involving trauma exposure to further guide understanding of both symptoms and support mechanisms. We then introduce wellness interventions and review both programmatic and technological approaches to improving wellness. Additionally, we review methods for evaluating intervention efficacy. Finally, we recommend best practices and important directions for future research. Content Warning: we discuss the intense labor and psychological effects of CCM, including graphic descriptions of mental distress and illness.
Co-customizations are collaborative customizations in messaging apps that all conversation members can view and change, e.g. the color of chat bubbles on Facebook Messenger. Co-customizations grant new opportunities for expressing intimacy; however, most apps offer private customizations only. To investigate how people in close relationships integrate co-customizations into their established communication app ecosystems, we built DearBoard: an Android keyboard that allows two people to co-customize its color theme and a toolbar of expression shortcuts (emojis and GIFs). In a 5-week field study with 18 pairs of couples, friends, and relatives, participants expressed their shared interests, history, and knowledge of each other through co-customizations that served as meaningful decorations, interface optimizations, conversation themes, and non-verbal channels for playful, affectionate interactions. The co-ownership of the co-customizations invited participants to negotiate who customizes what and for whom they customize. We discuss how co-customizations mediate intimacy through place-making efforts and suggest design opportunities.
Message deletion in mobile messaging apps allows people to "unsay" things they have said. This paper explores how and why people use (or do not use) this feature within remediation strategies after a communication error is identified. We present findings from a multi-stage survey designed to explore people's general experiences of the message deletion feature (N = 401), peoples' experiences of using this feature during the remediation of an error (N = 70), and receivers' perceptions around recent message deletions (N = 68). While people are typically aware of the deletion feature, it is infrequently used. When used, it is primarily done so to improve conversations by reducing confusion between conversation partners. We found people being aware of message deletions creating information-gaps which can provoke curiosity in recipients, causing them to develop narratives to help address the uncertainty. We found concerns amongst senders that these narratives would be of a negative nature, having an undesirable impact on how others perceive them. We use our findings to suggest ways in which mobile messaging apps could improve conversational experiences around erroneous and regrettable messages.
We present a video-analysis study of museum visitors' interactions at two tangible interactive exhibits in a transport museum. Our focus is on groups’ social and shared interactions, in particular how exhibit setup and structure influence collaboration patterns. Behaviors at the exhibits included individuals focusing beyond their personal activity towards companions’ interaction, adults participating via physical interaction, and visitors taking opportunities to interact when companions moved between sections of the exhibit or stepped back from interaction. We demonstrate how exhibits’ physical configuration and interactive control engendered behavioral patterns. Systematic analysis reveals how different configurations (concerning physical-spatial hardware and interactive software) distribute control differently amongst visitors. We present four mechanisms for how control can be distributed at an interactive installation: functional, temporal, physical and indirect verbal. In summary, our work explores how mechanisms that distribute control influence patterns of shared interaction with the exhibits and social interaction between museum visitor companions.