Introduction

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Recently it has been argued that there is a need for computer science, and

related fields of research, to shift its focus from user tasks, their requirements,

applications or computing, to issues concerning interaction, mutual awareness,

and ubiquity (e.g., Dourish, 2001). Overall, it is a shift from the Information

Society, with its focus on information, storage and processing of data and

transactions, to the Interaction Society, with related issues including, e.g.,

work as ongoing and fluid networks of connections (Sproull & Keisler,

1998) interaction overload (Ljungberg & Sørensen, 2000), interaction management

(Whittaker et al., 1997), contact management (Whittaker et al.,

2002), session management (Edwards, 1994), time management, etc. This

general shift has also highlighted the need to acknowledge issues such as

attention management in relation to the fluidity of work (e.g., Hudson et al.,

2002; Davenport & Beck, 2001).

As acknowledged by Boden (1994), interaction is really the glue that builds up

the modern organisation:

2 Wiberg

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permission of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.

“The structuring properties of the interaction order in real-time

settings such as meetings have enormous (and as yet largely

ignored) consequences for the overall structuring of organizations.

Caught in a meeting and connected through a series of

interactions across time and space are the people, ideas, decisions,

and outcomes that make the organization” (Boden, 1994, p.106).

With interaction and its related issues in mind, several empirical studies have

been conducted with a specific focus on the characteristics of informal,

lightweight, and opportunistic interaction and its implications for design of

technology to support interaction (e.g., Whittaker et al., 1994; Wiberg, 2001a;

Dahlberg et al., 2000). Together with the issue of interaction there is also the

issue of interruptions and inappropriate times for interaction. Recent empirical

work place studies (e.g., Hudson et al., 2002) have, for example, shown that

people spend a lot of their time in settings where their ability to respond to

incoming interaction requests are very limited.

The overall objective of this book is to provide its audience with a rich overview

of this emerging Interaction Society enabled by new information and communication

technologies (ICTs), such as mobile phones, PDAs, and pagers, and

applications such as email and chat clients, instant messaging systems, video

conferencing systems, and different kinds of alert- and notification systems.