BITlab: Behavior Information Technology

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Communication Arts & Sciences
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

Human-What Interaction? Understanding User Source Orientation

by: Jacob Solomon and Rick Wash


Interaction with internet-connected computing devices involves interaction with many distinct agents or sources simultaneously. Hardware, operating systems, web browsers, networking devices, and servers all influence the user experience, as do the engineers and programmers who designed them, the companies or organizations that have developed the systems, other users on the web, and various third-parties such as advertisers. We argue that users cannot be simultaneously engaged towards all of these sources of interaction, and instead must orient themselves to only a subset at any given time. We propose a model of source orientation based on literature from psychology, communications and human-computer interaction. This model describes how users select their source orientation when interacting with computers. We also present examples of how this model can be applied to promote usability in computing systems.


Jacob Solomon and Rick Wash. “Human-What Interaction? Understanding User Source OrientationHuman Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting (HFES). Chicago, IL. October 2014. [Nominated for Best Paper]

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