Role Management Interfaces Early work and relevant HCIL papers

Catherine Plaisant and Ben Shneiderman
January 3rd, 2004

Role Management is becoming a lively area of research and we summarize our past work here:

Early work (1995)

First, a quote:

"A great deal of personal organization is required to manage these roles whose goals, partners, tools and documents are likely to be very different. The previous research on role theory or Computer Supported Collaborative Work focuses mainly on the coordination of individuals while our goal is to assist individuals manage their multiple roles. We propose Personal Role Management as the guiding concept for the next generation of graphic user interfaces [1]. The first generation was the command line interfaces that required users to know about computer concepts and syntax; These were replaced by second generation graphical user interfaces with the desktop metaphor, icons, and folders. Now, the third generation emphasizes a docu-centric approach, in which applications fade into the background while multimedia documents become the center of attention. Our proposed fourth generation user-centered design emphasizes users roles, colleagues, and tasks rather than documents. Each separate role involves coordination with different groups of people and accomplishment of tasks within a schedule."

FROM: Plaisant, C. and Shneiderman, B., Organization Overviews and Role Management: Inspiration for Future Desktop Environments, IEEE Proc. 4th Workshop on Enabling Technologies: Infrastructure for Collaborative Enterprises (Berkeley Springs, WV, April 20-22, 1995) 14-22. (HCIL-95-11 TechReport version)
This idea of role managmentoriginated from a very short project with the World Bank and led to a Macromedia Director prototype. That prototype mostly illustrated the idea that an overview of roles would help users during search tasks (in directories and databases) and toward the end introduce the notion of role management as a new concept for the next generation of interfaces.

The project was presented during one of Ben's Keynote in Glasgow in 94 and a summary paper (with no figures) appeared as:

Ben Shneiderman , Catherine Plaisant, The future of graphic user interfaces: personal role managers, Proceedings of the conference on People and computers IX, p.3-8, January 1994, Glasgow
(That paper is available in the ACM Digital Library: direct link)

A video demonstrating the prototype was also published in the ACM CHI'95 video program (a digital version will eventually become available in the ACM digital library with all the CHI videos) along with a two page abstract (HCIL version and ACM DL version) . That same video is also available from HCIL in the 1994 HCIL Video report.

Later work

A later paper uses Role Management as an example to illustrate a window management environment called Elastic Windows":
Kandogan, E. and Shneiderman, B., Elastic Windows: Evaluation of Multi-Window Operations Proceedings of CHI'97, Atlanta GA , 22-27 March 1997, ACM New York, 250-257 (HCIL-96-17 Technical Report version)

More recently a team of University of Maryland undergraduate students investigated how role management could improve email interfaces for university students:

H. Ross Baker, Nicolas B. Duarte, Aydin Haririnia, Dawn E. Klinesmith, Hannah Lee, Leonid A. Velikovich, Alfred O. Wanga, Matthew J. Westhoff, Catherine Plaisant (June 2003) A Design Study of the Integration of Email and Role Management for University Students (HCIL-2003-30 Tech Report)