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Lost in translation: investigating the ambiguity of availability cues in an online media space

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In this paper we present a longitudinal study of an online media space addressing the question of how availability is managed in an interaction-intensive organization. We relied on three different data collection techniques and analysed our data in relation to three different work modes. During this study we participated in an online media space, for approximately six months making spot checks and observing the population from which ten subjects were selected for interviews. Our results show how techniques and strategies for availability management are developed and continuously adapted to a shared common ground. Further, our results show how having the communication channel open, and regulating availability on a social level instead of on a solely technical level, has the advantage of better coping with the ever-changing dynamics in group works. Finally, we show that there exists an ambiguity of availability cues in online media spaces that is smoothly handled by individuals.

Keywords: Availability management; Interruptions; Media space; Workplace awareness

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Informatics, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

Publication date: 2008-05-01

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