Paper - Ten-Minute Silence: A New Notification UX of Mobile Instant Messenger

  • Metadata:
    • author: In-geon Shin, Jin-min Seok, Youn-kyung Lim
    • title: Ten-Minute Silence: A New Notification UX of Mobile Instant Messenger
    • year: 20192019

    • url: Weblink
  • Essay:
    • Frequent notifications caused by instant messengers act as major sources of distraction and have been shown to affect the user experience negatively.
    • While previous attempts to solve the issue focused on reducing the frequency of the notifications on the receiver's end, the authors of "Ten Minute Silence" put a different spin on this by examining changes in user behavior when the sender is aware of such mechanics. They built "HelloBye", a MIM that only notifies users when the timespan between two concurrent messages exceeded ten minutes. After surveying users that were instructed to use the app over two weeks, they found that participants would naturally cluster their messages into self-contained conversations/sessions. This resulted in a significant reduction in notifications caused not only by HelloBye‘s coding but also the newly developed, more deliberate messaging habits of the participants. The paper successfully demonstrated how this simple rule could tremendously alter/improve the user experience of MIMs.
    • This was the first paper that I read where the authors provided a detailed account of how they structured their user testing, combining app-collected data with freeform interviews. As my project heavily focuses on the user experience, I intend to come back to this paper for reference when collecting feedback for our app. Furthermore, I think the public discussion about the more deliberate use of technology is mainly focused on restricting technology usage instead of motivating more healthy behaviors by design. The simple and yet effective approach of this paper presents a refreshing contribution to the latter category.
    • However, I am critical about the lacking diversity in their test subjects, consisting entirely of young Koreans. Coming from Germany, I observed that the usage patterns of MIM in Korea and Europe differ by a fair margin, both in terms of interaction frequency and average response time. I understand that resources for testing were limited. Still, I would have been interested to see how much of their findings were the results of Korean social dynamics and how much are universally applicable.
    • Finally, I agree with the authors that the exploration of time intervals other than ten minutes would be the next important step. But rather than just finding a more optimal static value, I would propose dynamically adjusting the intervals for each chat room individually (either by letting the user choose them or having an algorithm suggest better intervals based on past conversation data). While I understand that this may introduce additional complexity (as users have to keep track of multiple rulesets), I also think that the approach offers another perspective on the MIM usage in varying circumstances. As opposed to observing how the participants would adapt to a given ruleset, examining how users would adapt their rules in differing settings could put an interesting twist on the ideas presented in the paper. Identifying the resulting archetypes of chats (e.g., recurring intense interactive session vs. sparse announcements ) would provide further insight into how the concept of the X-minute break could be utilized in different contexts.
  • How to motivate more thoughtful use of instant messaging. In the paper "Ten Minute Silence" the authors propose a chat app that only notifies you if the gap between messages has been 10 minutes or greater. This imposed limit caused test participants to automatically cluster their messages into conversations, making them more deliberate in their usage of instant messaging services and improving the overall chatting experience.
  • I am curious to learn about outcomes of similar rule based experiments.