‘I Know That You Know’ - Ascertaining Mutual Awareness of Recipient’s Availability Status in Instant Messaging Applications

  • Agnieszka Matysiak Szóstek
  • Berry Eggen
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5726)


This study investigated ways to attain mutual, reciprocal awareness of recipient’s availability status in Instant Messaging (IM) applications. For that purpose we designed, implemented and tested a prototype of an IM system named DoNTBother. The analysis of the quantitative and qualitative results showed that displaying status indication in the chat box encouraged participants to show more respect towards the communicative state of their colleagues comparing to situations, in which the status indication was presented only in the ‘buddy list’ view. These findings empirically confirm the importance of reciprocal awareness as defined by Erickson and Kellogg [12] who argued that, to stimulate social behaviours, systems need to maintain the mutual knowledge of who knows what of the information that is shared among users. The study also showed that mutual awareness needs to be maintained not only during communication initiation but also throughout the entire communication duration. To achieve that Instant Messaging systems need to: (i) support indicating the time frame for answering messages in situations when the recipient is not instantaneously able to engage in a conversation, (ii) support specifying the urgency of a message and also (iii) support indicating communication breakdowns especially if they are caused by a reason occurring outside the application domain.


Instant Messaging systems availability mutual awareness 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agnieszka Matysiak Szóstek
    • 1
  • Berry Eggen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Industrial DesignEindhoven University of TechnologyEindhovenThe Netherlands

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