Supporting Collaborative Help for Individualized Use

TitleSupporting Collaborative Help for Individualized Use
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsHuh, J, Newman, MW, Ackerman, MS
Conference NameProceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI’11)
Date Published5/2011
Keywordsappropriation, collaborative help, configuration, customization, e-communities, individualized use, MythTV, pervasive systems, Q&A, social Q&A, tailorability

In this paper, we seek to advance the research around utilizing collaborative help for supporting individualized use of technologies. We do this by shedding light on the ways that users of MythTV, a highly flexible open-source software system for home entertainment enthusiasts, collaboratively help one another in maintaining their individualized MythTV systems. Through an analysis of the MythTV user community’s mailing list archive, documentation, and wiki, along with user interviews, we discuss how the community utilizes configuration artifacts as proxies to easily mobilize and exchange knowledge. While exchanging concrete artifacts such as scripts and configuration files was seen to sometimes increase the efficiency of knowledge transfer, it also presented several challenges. Negotiating the transparency of configuration artifacts, navigating the customization and appropriation gulfs, and aligning usage trajectories all emerged as problematic areas. We discuss design implications that center around addressing these challenges. Our findings provide a a useful new perspective on how to support users in their individualized use of systems.