National Academies Press: OpenBook

More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure (1997)

Chapter: 2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces

« Previous: 1 Introduction
Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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2—
Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces

In addition to giving us new tools or techniques for carrying out the activities we are already doing, communications and information technologies will provide new opportunities for doing things we cannot currently do: viewing the invisible; hearing the unhearable; shrinking the world or ourselves in real time in order to better explore, learn, or interact with the real or virtual worlds; enhancing our sensory, physical, or cognitive skills; and tackling tasks we would otherwise never attempt because of the physical demands. Not only will what we do and how we do it affect the way interfaces should be designed, but the way we design the interfaces will also have profound effects on the way we do things. At the same time, substantial growth in information quantity and diversity is affecting both activities and the nature of the information infrastructure from the inside out, suggesting alternative perspectives for interface designers to consider. The steering committee expected that viewing existing interfaces through the lens of a familiar life domain would reveal neglected issues, unidentified challenges, unexpected convergences, or new directions for research or action. Accordingly, the workshop convened by the steering committee generated examples of trends, needs, and anticipated developments in education and lifelong learning, selected work environments, and home life, civic life, and social life.

This chapter begins with a high-level overview of the almost kaleidoscopic interplay of task, environment, information, and user attributes to which effective ECIs must be responsive. The overview of tasks, environments, and users provides the basis for an enumeration in the rest of the

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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chapter of the qualities desired from every-citizen interfaces (ECIs). The steering committee emphasizes that this overview, synthesized from workshop discussions and supporting materials, is impressionistic rather than complete. More completeness is both beyond the scope of this report and problematic: the ease of extrapolating from what we see and do today may be misleading about the future, although contemporary experiences do illuminate what does and does not work well.1 In particular, contemporary examples emphasize the characteristics of contemporary personal computers and, to a lesser extent, telephones and televisions; tomorrow's information infrastructure will draw more on embedded systems and different kinds of devices, too (Verity and Judge, 1996).

Diversity Of Demands To Be Met By Every-Citizen Interfaces

The interdisciplinary nature of the workshop discussions provided evidence for the contributions to technical development of better interfaces from better understanding of the social context and ''domestication" of system use. For example, how does the new technology change or become integrated into household and community routines? How is the definition of home computing evolving? As explained by social scientists, that understanding should be informed by a history of social change associated with computing and communications systems, leveraging descriptive data and analysis to anticipate the amount and style of use. For example, what are the roles of service features, early experiences, and social influences in the adoption and use of networked infrastructure by mainstream users? Longitudinal, multimethodological field research may be especially important for systems intended for public access (e.g., library resident and kiosk systems2). It may also help in understanding how public knowledge, understanding, and educational needs about security and trustworthiness should be factored into technical decision making. For example, how far can one go in providing anonymity and/or privacy protection to citizens without huge increases in cost or effort associated with use of the national information infrastructure (NII)? Is technology that is aimed mainly at protecting institutional (government or corporate/proprietary) information generalizable, or do individuals present specific additional requirements?

Today's Diverse Uses of Information and Communications Technologies

Reliable, comprehensive, and up-to-date data about everyday uses to which people currently put information technology are in short supply,

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Page 23

TABLE 2.1 Computer Use at Home

Application

Percentage of Users by Age Groupa

 

0-14 Years

15-39 Years

40-59 Years

60+ Years

Adults Age 15+ Years

E-mail

1

25

35

38

29

Bulletin boards

2

8

8

8

8

Communications

NA

18

24

24

20

Databases

NA

18

25

21

21

Spreadsheets

1

18

24

20

20

Word processing

26

58

64

57

60

Games

85

20

19

19

19

Graphics

15

14

14

10

14

Household records and finance

NA

15

20

17

17

Work at home

NA

22

33

21

26

Connect to work from home

NA

8

9

4

8

Home-based business

NA

4

6

6

5

School assignments

40

33

14

2

24

Educational programs

39

13

18

14

15

Learning computer use

25

21

20

15

20

Programming

3

8

9

7

9

NA, not applicable.

aPercentages are the proportion of people who had a computer at home (not the percentage of total U.S. population) and used it for the indicated purpose.

SOURCES: U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, October 1993; RAND (1995, p. 185).

but what is available provides important insights. Table 2.1 summarizes data from the U.S. Bureau of the Census about computer use by adults and children who have access to a computer at home (22.8 percent of U.S. households at the time of the survey). The Census Bureau data were collected in 1993 in the Current Population Survey, which uses a statistically valid sample of the U.S. population (unlike on-line surveys and most market research reports). The 1993 data are the most recent available from the Census Bureau concerning the country's home computer use; unfortunately, the 1993 survey predated the widespread growth in popularity of the World Wide Web and did not ask about Web use. More recent private surveys (e.g., Hoffman et al., 1996) provide only snapshots, since the combination of broadening use of personal computers and frequent introductions of new software and services leads to relatively frequent changes in who is doing what.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Page 24

Table 2.1 suggests that work, learning, entertainment, household chores (e.g., bookkeeping), and social/collegial contact (e.g., bulletin boards) have all become part of everyday household computer use. For example, learning-including formal education-is not restricted to household members in the kindergarten through high school age range. Rather, a sizable proportion of adults who have home computers have been doing school assignments on them (24 percent), using educational programs (15 percent), and investing time in learning about computer use (21 percent). Word processing seems to have been the dominant application for adults (60 percent reported its use), probably because it figures into so many other activities (e.g., bulletin boards, e-mail, home-based business, remote work, school assignments).

Excluding word processing, e-mail has the highest incidence of home use among adults (29 percent) in the Census Bureau data. More recent data add support to the conclusion that communication is a dominant reason for computers (Sandberg, 1996). A representative example is provided by Forrester Research, which estimated that about 15 percent of all Americans (not just those with home computers and thus a different measure than the Census Bureau data cited above) communicate by e-mail at work and/or at home, up from 2 percent in 1992 (Investor's Business Daily, 1997). Typical of market research optimism, Forrester predicts that growth in the use of personal computers in homes and corporate Internet access will drive e-mail use up to 50 percent of the U.S. population within 5 years.

Use of home computers for work-related purposes appears to be increasing. According to an International Data Corporation (IDC) study, the number of households with full- or part-time self-employed home workers reached 20 million in 1996. IDC found that these households lead U.S. households overall in their rates of personal computer (PC) ownership (56.5 percent compared to 35 percent), on-line service use (27.5 percent compared to 21.1 percent), and Internet use (23.1 percent compared to 15.9 percent), and they are more likely to use on-line and Internet services than households with home computers but no home workers. IDC segments home offices according to whether they are used by self-employed home workers or by people with "corporate home offices" (i.e., those who work elsewhere and telecommute or bring work home after hours). Perhaps because of financial and training support from their employers, the latter group have even higher rates of PC ownership and network use than self-employed home workers. Although these data cannot be compared directly to the Census Bureau data in Table 2.1,3 IDC's finding of 10 percent growth in home offices in 1995-1996, combined with the high rates of computer and network use observed among such offices, suggests that doing paid work at home is a more common use of computers and networks now than in 1993.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Page 25

TABLE 2.2 Internet Use in the Past Three Months (all data represent percentages of the U.S. population)

Category

People in Computer Households (%)

People Using Networks (%)

Income quartile

   

1

15

2

2

34

8

3

43

10

4

68

21

     

Education level

   

‹ HS

26

5

HS or more

32

6

B.A. or more

59

23

     

Gender

   

Male

41

12

Female

52

6

     

Age

   

‹ 20

50

14

20-39

41

12

40-59

43

9

› 59

15

2

NOTE: Getting an accurate picture of the distribution of computer and network use among U.S. citizens is not straightforward. Numerous samples are used to generate publicized survey data, but close examination shows that despite care in the planning of sample design, the actual data must be adjusted statistically (through the use of weights) to achieve meaningful and accurate inferences about the U.S. population. In addition, what is being measured is often neither clear nor consistent. Survey researchers have observed, for example, that people often do not understand enough about their equipment or services to answer questions reliably; questions about activities and uses tend to yield more accurate and consistent results. Another factor inspiring caution about reported data is that there is significant "churn" in the PC application and services markets: people start and stop activity relatively often, but it is too soon to describe either long-term attrition rates or consistent patterns in how use varies over time and among different categories of people.

SOURCE: "CommerceNet/Nielsen Media Research Internet Demographics Study for Fall 1995 and Spring 1996 Recontact," Nielsen Interactive Services, Dunedin, FL, August 1996.

Recent research on Internet use in the United States draws on the 1995 CommerceNet/Nielsen Internet Demographic Survey (CNIDS), a telephone survey conducted in August 1995 (see Table 2.2).4 Unlike the 1993 Census Bureau survey, this survey examined Web use, which is a subset of Internet use since one must use the Internet to reach the Web, but not vice versa. Researchers for Project 2000 at Vanderbilt University found

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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TABLE 2.3 Internet and Web Use by Frequent Internet Users

 

High Web Usea

Low Web Usea

No Web Usea

 

Male

Female

Male

Female

Male

Female

Gender (%)

78

22

72

28

56

44

             

Activities performed on Internet (%)b

           

Communication

37

41

30

28

22

42

Interactive discussion (chat)

9

6

12

12

2

9

Noninteractive discussion

19

24

9

7

15

10

Download software

15

10

8

6

1

4

Use another computer

16

5

7

6

4

7

             

Activities performed on Web (%)b

           

Search for product/service information

72

56

49

33

   

Search for company/organization information

72

67

56

45

   

Search for other information

86

83

66

66

   

Browse/explore

95

91

87

82

   

Make purchase based on Web information

29

18

17

8

   

Ever used Web for business

57

46

44

30

   
             

Total in segment

4.9 million

4.6 million

3.4 million

aAll three segments are frequent Internet users (once per week or more often). Frequency of Web use is defined on a 4-point scale.

bPercentage of segment that named the activity as frequently performed.

SOURCE: Project 2000 (Hoffman et al., 1996).

that 28.8 million people in the United States who are 16 or older had access to the Internet at home, work, and/or school; 16.4 million actually used the Internet at some time in the previous 3 months; 11.5 million had used the Web; and 1.5 million had used the Web to buy something. Table 2.3 presents detailed findings about a subset of the population-the 12.9 million people identified as frequent Internet users (once per week or more), segmented by gender and amount of Web use. Among the interesting findings from this table are that women are much more likely than men to use the Internet for communication (e.g., e-mail, noninteractive discussions on news groups and bulletin boards, and interactive chat discussions) and that men are more likely than women to download software, use a computer remotely over the Internet, make purchases based on information gathered on the Web, or use the Web for business.

Project 2000's (Hoffman et al., 1996) finding of 11.5 million Web users in 1995 suggests rapid growth in the use of this relatively new application

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
×

Page 27

in the NII. Information-gathering activity predominates on the Web, with a much smaller share of people using it to plan or make purchases. Web use is constantly evolving, however, and this August 1995 snapshot took place before tools for publishing one's own Web page became widely available.5

Because access to the Internet from work and school as well as from home is included, the Project 2000/CNIDS data are not directly comparable to the 1993 Census Bureau data in Table 2.1. Nevertheless, it is significant that both surveys found communication to be the most common use of the Internet. This finding squares with detailed field observations gathered in Carnegie Mellon University's HomeNet project (Kraut et al., 1996), described at the workshop by Sara Kiesler and Robert Kraut. The HomeNet project gave 48 families of varied demographic backgrounds computers, Internet connections, and technical support for a year. In pretrial questionnaires, participants did not expect that computers would be useful for interpersonal communications. However, communicating with friends and family via e-mail proved to be the dominant reason for use of the Internet, especially among teenagers, and e-mail use turned out to be a strong predictor of Web use-but not vice versa. Teenagers also were likely to become the household experts and most frequent users of networked information and communications media.

Similarly, civic networks report that communication is the incentive that draws most of their participants on-line (Anderson et al., 1995), and other anecdotal and case study evidence also points to growth in networked activity among children, especially at home rather than at school. While large income- and education-based differences exist in the access of primary and secondary school students to these media, a 1994 Times Mirror survey of technology in American households found "virtually no socioeconomic differences in how often and for what purposes children use computers if present in the home."

Public, civic, and social activities are hardest to represent with robust data (Kraut et al., 1996). Every study of civic networks has reported that access increases community attachment and political involvement (e.g., Anderson et al., 1995). Yet such findings reflect selection bias-respondents are those who have opted for civic network membership. More objective data are available in the nationally representative 1994 Times Mirror household technology survey. The survey established that individuals with network access from home were significantly more likely to know the anwsers to questions about their current political environment than their computer-owning peers without network access. These results are mirrored in enterprise-level research: those who use an organization's network have more knowledge about it and feel more positive about it than those who do not (Huff et al., 1989; Kraut et al., 1992).

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Lifelong Learning

Evolution of the nation's information infrastructure makes clear that it presents opportunities and challenges to people of all ages, who must learn how to assimilate it into their lives. Continuous changes in technology (and in the mix of activities that make up our lives) imply that people will confront the need to learn new systems or activities at multiple points during their lives, notwithstanding people's changing willingness and ability to learn over time. Today's teenagers, for example, emerge from various studies as leading-edge users and innovators, but those qualities will not necessarily endure over time since a number of circumstances differentiate teenagers from other age groups. Making learning a part of life and the implications this has on how, under the influence of new media, human beings will think, create, work, learn, and collaborate in the future constitute a major consideration for the design of every-citizen interfaces to the NII; recognition of these concerns contributes to the rise of programmatic support for lifelong learning in a variety of contexts. The lifelong learning challenge illustrates the need for interfaces and other elements of technology that transcend today's "gift-wrapping" approach to education, training, and learning in which the tradition of rote learning is "wrapped" in the mantle of new technologies such as multimedia or the World Wide Web (Rubin, 1996; Wasser, 1996).6 See Gerhard Fischer's and Wallace Feurzeig's position papers in this volume for a fuller discussion.

Lifelong learning is grounded in a variety of descriptive and prescriptive goals, such as the following:

Learning should take place in the context of authentic, complex problems (because learning is more effective when people understand its impact).

Learning should be embedded in the pursuit of intrinsically rewarding activities. Motivation is an enduring concern.

Learning on demand needs to be supported because change is inevitable, complete coverage of relevant information and knowledge is impossible, and obsolescence of acquired skills and knowledge is unavoidable.7

Organizational and collaborative learning must be supported to leverage limited individual human minds and to meet collective organizational needs.

Skills and processes that support learning as a lifetime habit, that reflect a realistic view of what should be considered basic skills in a society that assumes broader use of information technology, and that transcend the school-to-work transition must be developed.8

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Research is needed to enable successful pursuit of all of these goals.

The organizational emphasis that is emerging in a variety of work environments is as a growing and recurrent theme, in part because the NII concept emphasizes the interconnection of groups of people (see Chapter 5). At the workshop, John Thomas, of NYNEX, explained that more frequent and less regular changes in work environments imply that "assimilative learning," which is incremental and oriented to information acquisition, will be supplemented increasingly by "accommodative learning," which relates to more substantial change in perspective and activities. In a variety of contexts, communities of practice exist that may provide vehicles and contexts for learning that may generate requirements for new interfaces (see the position paper by Charles Cleary in this volume).

Growing Use in Home, Civic, and Social Activities

The growing penetration of computing and communications into home settings and social activities is increasing their commonality with white-collar work. It is possible, as Mark Weiser, of Xerox, mused at the workshop, to begin to talk about personal information infrastructures-which are elements of or complements to the larger NII. The personal and social impacts are changing with the technologies and their uses. For example, as a tool for social interaction, the typewriting-telegraphy nature of today's applications seem to trade off isolation in the immediate environment for dispersed community on the net.9 With progress in networking technology and access, evolving interfaces are expected to enable tomorrow's electronic communities to see, hear, and touch each other, meeting face to face, safely and anonymously, in cyberspace (see Box 2.1). Already, people are using even typed text interfaces in multiuser domains (MUDs) and multiuser domains/object-oriented (MOOs) to experiment with alternative identities and other behaviors that relate to self-image; two- and three-dimensional avatars are also providing vehicles for play, expression, and experimentation that underscore the potential for social impact that is only beginning to be recognized.

The challenge of making interfaces appealing and easy to learn is greater in home and social contexts, inasmuch as people at work have no choice but to learn and make the best of systems available to them, whereas the success of home applications depends more on individual discretion and desire, which are in large part a response to the interface along with the associated content and specifics of the application. These lessons are repeated regularly in market trials of new services and consumer electronics. Home settings also reflect the dynamics of families, which are different from other kinds of groups or institutions. At the

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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BOX 2.1 Evolution of Social Interaction

America is staying home. In the 1980s, futurist Faith Popcorn labeled the phenomenon "cocooning." Now she is suggesting that we have entered into an even more isolated phase-"burrowing"-as we go beyond physical withdrawal into emotional withdrawal as well: "Some of us are too overwhelmed or exhausted by the stress of life to bother to return ... even the phone calls of friends we really want to talk to." The next stage she predicts is "clanning,'' where we will cluster like birds of a feather into clans of 20 to 20,000 members. That trend is upon us today, and cyberspace is facilitating its growth. In the early part of this century, on a warm summer evening, you could find people sitting on their front porches, calling out to friends and neighbors passing in the street. People lived in communities, knowing who their neighbors were and what they were up to. Radio brought little alteration, except that people might leave their front door open, so that the sounds of "One Man's Family" or "The Shadow" might brighten their evening. Then television came and everything changed. Today, you can walk down those same streets and never see a soul. The only signs of life are the telltale bluish glow of the TV sets within.

The resulting social isolation has brought about a new form of instant intimacy. Television shows have devolved from formal stage presentations and movies down to a peek into that interesting neighbor's window down the street (an augmentation of the same peek we used to take in person). You can now watch people just like yourselves losing their pants at a wedding, revealing graphic details of their marital infidelities, or being shot or arrested, all in living color right on your TV.

Today, we are engaging in the myth of a set-top box that will connect to the family TV set, around which everyone will cluster, watching in rapture as Dad traverses a labyrinth of baseball statistics or Mom pays the bills. Interactive services do not invite partnership. In the coming decade the single blue glow of the living room TV will be replaced with a separate glow for every member of the family. This has already happened at my house, where we have moved our computers into the living room, so that we can be together while we work and play on our own. With the advent of continuous speech recognition and vocal conversation on the Internet, we may finally be driven into separate rooms, spending time with each other through our viewports and offering greetings as we pass through the hall.

SOURCE: Adapted from a background paper prepared for the August 1996 workshop by Bruce Tognazzini, Healtheon Corporation

workshop, Patricia Brennan, for example, noted that apparently shared tasks are often defined very differently by different people. This condition suggests added value for tools that allow different people to assign different interpretations to tasks and arrive at a common endpoint.

Another clear difference between home and institutional settings (work, school, and public access points such as libraries) is that equipment and networks at home are paid for by individual users. The relatively

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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greater cost burden of network use by self-owned and very small businesses is reflected in the finding of the 1996 IDC and 1993 Census Bureau surveys that self-employed individuals lagged the general population in access to network services (including access from home, work, or school), despite leading the general population in personal computer ownership. In work settings, the institution provides both equipment and support (training, help, and other resources), which are important for the assimilation of information technology. In contrast, home users presumably must invest discretionary income in acquiring computing and communications systems and associated help, consulting, and training. Less demanding designs for which less help is needed and systems with better built-in help support than is typical at present could reduce these burdens. This premium on usability in home settings is one reason the term appliance has been used with greater frequency to describe an ease-of-use objective for future access devices. The problem of meeting user support needs is compounded, of course, in the case of people with inferior devices or systems (e.g., for reasons of affordability), except inasmuch as their designs require less support. Also, systems that are more self-contained or sealed as a process of being more appliance like may imply a need for disability access features to be built in, on the assumption that modifications will become more difficult. Building in such access may also become a requirement for the shared systems that may be more typical of institutional (e.g., employers or schools) or public contexts (e.g., kiosks) than homes (Government Information Technology Systems (GITS), 1995).

Civic activities may involve use of the NII from home or other settings, including public facilities, such as libraries. Examples of civic uses include motor vehicle registrations and renewals of driver licenses; finding and filing income tax forms, getting refunds or paying owed amounts; commenting on a proposed rezoning or a national forest land management plan during a public comment period; and monitoring the agendas and actions of government units at all levels (GITS, 1995). As a class, government-supported efforts (e.g., under the Digital Library Initiative and various NII access initiatives) should be of particular interest to interface researchers because they are inherently more amenable to data gathering and analysis that can be discussed publicly than proprietary efforts, yet this potential is not exploited for the most part. Many experiments are under way at local, state, and federal levels of government and social service organizations, and many workshop participants urged the use of these nascent efforts for study about what works, what does not, what is missing, and so on. Where possible, comparisons to corresponding research in other countries is desirable.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Page 32

Information as a Common Currency

Contemporary experimentation with the World Wide Web, the Internet, and even telephony and television provide what are expected to be only hints of future information exchange. In the work world alone, it feeds expectations that employees will need to connect to the open world of cyberspace to access their colleagues around the world, vast on-line libraries, and video, audio, and data feeds from news services offering everything from this minute's news to archived video and print history. Along with technical access, people must have the skills and tools to find, comprehend, and work with information; current technologies show both progress and limitations in all three areas. These skills and tools present an alternative, cross-cutting perspective to interface contexts from that presented by applications, tasks, or activities.

Today's technology, built to meet obsolete constraints of the 1960s and 1970s, focuses users' attention and work patterns on the tool instead of the information: they must first decide what tool set they wish to use and then open a document inside that tool set before they can proceed with their work. If people want to gather information, they must use their browser. If they want to include that information in their own work, they must transport it from the browser into their productivity tool. When they want to write a memo, they do so in their word processor, where spell checking is only a click away (but typically absent from e-mail editors).

There are interactions between the nature of information and its presentation that are sensitive to interface design. Recent experiments with hypermedia and multimedia show the potential for new forms of presenting and representing information, both of which involve technical challenges; they may also enable new forms of information, per se, illustrated today by emerging uses in the creative arts and attempts by authors to write specifically for the electronic medium. At the workshop, Louis Hecht, of the Open Geographic Information Systems Consortium, for example, referred to the power of nontextual electronic representations, such as digital maps and virtual reality, for moving "our individual minds and collective culture away from text-induced linear, sequential thinking toward nonlinear thinking. ... Virtual reality applications will employ spatial representations of real spatial phenomena, but they will also employ spatial representations of nonspatial phenomena, simply because our brains are hardwired for solving problems in three-dimensional space."

Drawing from her experiences working with humanities scholars, Susan Hockey (then with the Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities) described, at the workshop, how documents can be viewed as complex data structures; digital annotations and hypertext representations of textual documents can include nonlinear links and can show layers of

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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value and meaning that paper cannot. Box 2.2 provides examples from humanities scholarship of how the Standard Generalized Markup Language can be used to encode logical structure, change over time, and other aspects, enabling powerful new ways of understanding and analyzing information.10 Hockey's illustrations emphasize that interfaces should be seen as part of a system that not only presents or represents but also can influence interpretation of and options for working with information.

Interfaces inherently constrain the user's view because their designers must make compromises between burgeoning choices of information and limitations on display space and bandwidth for communication or reception. Those choices might be made for many reasons and in many ways; technology is not neutral. It is important to recognize that there are choices and that, by shaping the presentation of information, interface design may affect use. Most obviously, for example, for those with sensory disabilities, information that is presented in only one modality may not be accessible. The overtly political debate of the mid-1990s about whether and how to control obscenity in networked infrastructure is a harbinger of other debates; technical tools (e.g., information filters, labels, blocking systems) developed in that context and the associated public policy frameworks will influence demand for interface features and may be transferable to other contexts.11 Public and private decision making about whether and how to label and block information will, of course, reflect a combination of perceptions of technological options and a variety of nontechnical factors.

Reflecting on the workshop and a draft of this report, workshop participant Susan Brummel, of the General Services Administration, characterized the challenge of providing support for multiple views:

In order for citizens to construct personal, community, and action-oriented views, they need multiple technology "viewers" to see their views relative to others, to conduct the discourse that keeps views "eased"-pliant and flexible relative to achieving the overall agreed-upon purpose-and ''easeled"-angled and standing in the best possible light to capture the current and proposed view as it emerges. They also need to be able to be accountable to themselves and others for what they have agreed to do. We haven't graduated to the availability of devices that accommodate greater relativity beyond viewpoint, to reflect for example "view-plane" (multiple views with their respective coherence/interference patterns), "view-sphere" (multiple views over a complete cycle or course of action), "view-torus" (multiple long views as dynamic cultural influences as a whole, swell, crest, crash/transform, reform, and so on). How do we see the flow patterns that enable us to be eased up above the noise-and hold a balanced, steady course?

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BOX 2.2 Representing Humanities Texts

Information in the arts and humanities can take many forms, and it can be studied for many different purposes. Humanities primary source texts may take the form of literary works, historical documents, manuscripts, papyri, inscriptions, coins, transcriptions of spoken texts, or dictionaries, and they can be written in any natural language. This information is characterized more than anything by its complexity. It may include variant readings, variant spellings, marginal notes, annotations of various kinds, cancellations, and interlineations, as well as nonstandard characters. Literary texts rarely conform to the simple document structure required by most current text retrieval systems. Plays consist of acts, scenes, speeches, stage directions, cast lists, and so forth. There are very many different types of verse. Systems for processing literary texts must also be able to handle different languages and alphabets, both in terms of analyzing the structure of words and displaying the text in the correct script.

Most textual information in electronic form is intended to be used in a document retrieval system where a typical user wants to find all the documents about a certain topic. For primary source material in textual form, this is less likely to be the major application. A user may want to locate a quotation, compare the vocabulary of the characters in a novel, examine the rhyme and sound patterns in verse, or even find out whether a particular word is used at all. These types of searches require an accurate text and one that is encoded to make certain features explicit.

Ever since Father Busa began to create the first humanities electronic text in 1949, effort has concentrated on finding ways to represent the characteristics of texts such that they can be manipulated easily. Most early projects attempted to transcribe electronic texts by maintaining as accurate reproduction of the original as possible. Typographic features were faithfully encoded, and many texts were prepared before it was fully realized how ambiguous typography can be. For example, italic can be used to represent titles, foreign words, or emphasized words, making it impossible to retrieve only foreign words.

In late 1987 the humanities computing community became one of the earliest groups to adopt the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) when it began a major project called the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). The TEI has developed an SGML application that can handle many different types of humanities electronic texts. It includes tags not only for the structural features of the text, but also for analysis and interpretation. The TEI includes SGML tag sets for prose, verse, drama, transcriptions of speech, dictionaries, and terminological data, as well as analytical features, transcription of manuscripts, names and dates, language corpora, and a sophisticated method for hypertext linking both within and outside the current document. The TEI consists of about 400 possible tags, but very few are mandatory. The philosophy is that one person can encode a text for the features he or she is interested in. Another person can then take that text and add encoding for other features. The TEI makes it possible to encode multiple and possibly conflicting views in the same document, thus allowing for differences of opinion in interpretations of the material.

SOURCE: Excerpted from position paper by Susan Hockey available on-line at http://www2.nas.edu/CSTBWEB.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Constraints on views will reflect the differing incentives and possibilities in both private and public quarters of cyberspace. Emerging debates about privacy of personal data illustrate that even private uses (e.g., health data, which may be used by patients, physicians, health care organizations, health insurers, employers, government benefits providers, medical researchers) are not without policy constraints. In private domains, various restrictions may be both legal and either sought after or a concomitant of use (e.g., restrictions on use of company-owned resources by employers). In public access systems, other constraints may be embodied in system design. In general, nonpersonal systems and interfaces may limit what every citizen can do with them, at least in the near to medium terms.

Range of Environments in Which Access Is Needed-Requirement
for Nomadicity

In a period of rapid technical and social change, not much can or should be taken for granted. Two things, however, seem evidence from the course of development of the NII, to date:

A person's physical location at any time during the day will make less and less difference to his or her ability to carry out most any activity associated with information processing, communication, and electronic transactions.

Since electronic interaction is likely to become integral to education, employment, and daily living, not having access to these emerging technologies will have increasingly negative ramifications for individuals who are unable to access them for various reasons-not being able to understand them, not being able physically to use them, not being able to afford devices and other end systems (or the communications, capacity and service to use them to access the NII).

The range of environments where people can access networked infrastructures is growing. With miniaturization and advances in wireless communications, and architectures for distributed computing that may place fewer demands on at least some classes of devices, people will no longer need to be tied to a workstation or carry a large device for access to computing, communications, and information services and functions. At the same time, growth in the variety of network-attachable devices in homes (not only computers, but also televisions, stereos, systems for managing energy consumption, and many others) implies networking within the home and additional hardware or software that supports both interconnections

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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and management of home-based devices and systems. The quality of communications capacity to homes and other remote locations depends on the evolution of associated services (people differ as to their optimism about what will be deployed to homes and when; see the section titled "The Communications Infrastructure" in Chapter 3); the prospect of greater networking within homes raises questions about household economic that compound those presented by PC ownership. Nevertheless, interface research should contemplate possible changes in networking capacity and services and alternative architectures, which embody alternative expectations for what functionality will be in terminating devices, hosts or servers, and the network itself.

A number of conceptual frameworks-untethered computing and communications or nomadicity,12 ubiquity, and universality-have in common the vision of systems and, therefore, interfaces that can be used anywhere, anytime: while a person is sitting at a desk, driving a car, sitting in an easy chair, participating in a meeting, sitting in a library, walking down the street, sitting on the beach, walking through a noisy shopping mall, taking a shower, or relaxing in a bathtub. The challenge of operability across environments is being pursued in the context of specific kinds of jobs, such as maintenance work, which involves problem solving, distributed corporate knowledge, and people who move among locations and need to communicate both in transit and from afar (see, for example, the position paper by Daniel Siewiorek in this volume). At least some systems and interfaces will also need to be operable in hostile environments-when camping or hiking, in factories, or on a battlefield.

Ubiquitous computing and communications implies that many people will need to access their device (or devices) in very different environments even on the same day. Different environments will put constraints on what type of physical and sensory input techniques will work under what circumstances and conditions (e.g., it is difficult to use a keyboard when walking, difficult and dangerous to use an input method that requires vision when driving a car; keyboard use is fine when sitting at a desk, but speech input may not be acceptable in a shared environment), as well as the types of display or other output techniques that will be accessible and usable or not (in a noisy mall, in the midst of a meeting, while at the library, while driving a car).

Some devices and systems will be personally purchased and owned, while others will be public in nature. For personal systems an individual can do a certain amount of selecting among systems to meet personal needs or preferences and can even make modifications if necessary. Public systems, on the other hand, must be operable without modification by all individuals who may come upon them, implying suitability for people who have any of a wide range or combination of disabilities and also

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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systems that are very easily learned. Institutional systems (e.g., provided by employers or schools) may provide an intermediate level of customization. The contexts of public use may imply greater needs for durability (e.g., because of higher-volume or more intensive use) and ruggedization (e.g., because of public space or outdoor installations). These elements, of course, affect cost. For example, touchscreens are the most common kiosk input device; thinner liquid-crystal display panels with touch membrane overlays are increasingly used to allow shallower kiosk enclosures. Assessments of public kiosks already recognize that there are tradeoffs in a variety of cost elements (including deploying more kiosks to raise proximity to more of the population versus raising the amount of use per kiosk with fewer of them; see GITS, 1995). Expectations for greater use of public access systems, evidenced by experimentation with a variety of kiosk applications, suggests a need to assess their performance and technical requirements more systematically; insights might be gained from contemporary phone booths, automated teller machines, and kiosk systems (GITS, 1995; Venture Development Corporation, 1996a-c).13

Range of Users

People who have disabilities or who are older represent a particularly important target community for ECIs, because for people who lack such abilities as walking, seeing, speaking, or hearing, the NII is a medium of communication that allows participation in the nation's civic, social, and economic life on an even footing with fully abled people (see Box 2.3). The goal of developing ECIs does not mean accommodating literally all people in all situations and applications. Some tasks are incompatible with particular disabilities; for example, blind people are not likely to be film editors, even if an interface could be built that somehow enabled them to operate a film editing system.

It should not, however, be too readily assumed that any given task is inherently inaccessible to some people, since trying to figure out how to make the inaccessible accessible can lead to insights that make the task more accessible to and usable by all people. For example, modifications to enlarge fonts on screen to make them more usable by people with visual impairments have been found to be very useful for individuals without visual impairments when using high-resolution screens on laptops. Strategies developed on kiosks to allow them to be used by individuals with low vision or blindness have facilitated use by individuals with literacy problems. Closed captioning on televisions, which was implemented for people who are deaf, is now being used by an even larger number of children and adults who are learning English as a second

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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BOX 2.3 Importance of Access to Information Technology for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Access to information technology is particularly important and valuable for blind and low-vision citizens. The ability to use computers and network services boosts the employment prospects of such people and enables them to participate in on-line communications. The following comments were recently submitted by the American Foundation for the Blind to the Federal Communications Commission:

According to research conducted by the American Foundation for the Blind for the Department of Education, blind and visually impaired people are as likely as the general population to have consumer electronics in their homes, to use personal computers, and to use Internet and on-line services. This, despite the fact that blind persons tend to be poorer, on average, than the general population, and tend to be employed much less often. ... Since studies have shown that computer users and Internet users tend to have higher income than the general population and that people tend to use computers and the Internet at work, it is particularly noteworthy, given these differences in income and employment, that usage rates for blind and visually impaired persons are similar to the general population, suggesting the increased importance of this access to them. ... A study completed just before the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) estimates that 43 percent of employed persons who are blind or visually impaired use computers to write (Kirchner, Corinne, and Harkins, Don, Issues and Strategies Toward Improving Employment of Blind or Visually Impaired Persons in Illinois, American Foundation for the Blind, 1991, Table VI-5 (a))

language. Nevertheless, efforts to extend accessibility to the NII to as many people as possible must account for the fact that a large number of people have some condition that constrains their ability to use some forms of interfaces.

Altogether, people with physical, sensory, and cognitive disabilities account for 15 to 20 percent of the U.S. population. The Census Bureau regularly measures the number and characteristics of people with specific disabilities.14 Some 49 million Americans (about 1 in 5) have a disability, defined as a limitation on performing one or more of a range of functional and social activities, such as seeing words in newsprint, engaging in spoken conversation, climbing stairs, shopping, or performing light housework. Of these, 24 million have a severe disability-an inability to perform one or more of these activities.

Although the data do not directly address the use of information technologies, they support some conclusions about interface usability. Among persons 15 and older, 5 percent (9.7 million) report difficulty

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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seeing words and letters in ordinary newsprint, including 1.6 million who are blind; 5.6 percent (10.9 million) have trouble hearing what is said in a conversation with another person (including 0.9 million who are deaf); and 8.3 percent (16.2 million) have difficulty lifting and carrying a full bag of groceries. Difficulty with these tasks implies that certain interfaces could be difficult or impossible to use, such as those requiring reading print on a screen, hearing synthesized speech output, or manipulating a touch screen or mouse.

According to the Census Bureau, the chances of having a disability increase with age, and more than half of persons aged 65 or older have a disability (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1995). Some degradation of senses and abilities is normal with age. People over 65 account for 12 percent of the U.S. population, but they make up 34 percent of persons with disabilities and 43 percent of persons with severe disabilities (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1994). As Sara Czaja notes in her position paper (available online at http://www2.nas.edu/CSTBWEB), research on older persons-an increasing share of the population-has found that advanced age is associated with decreased performance working with computers. The precise cause of the decline is not known. Physical disabilities such as decreased vision, decreased hearing, and arthritis probably are involved. Czaja notes that factors other than physical disability may also impair performance for some older people, such as declines in cognitive skills and (for today's older cohorts) less familiarity with information technologies than younger people have. Further research will be required to identify the most significant factors and to find accommodations for the interface limitations of older persons.

Illiteracy is another impediment to effective use of information technology. The 1992 National Adult Literacy Survey by the U.S. Department of Education estimated that about 21 percent of Americans over age 16 (more than 40 million people) lack more than rudimentary reading and writing skills, including about 4 percent (8 million) who are unable to perform even the simplest literacy tasks.15 For many of these people, spoken language may be a more accessible form of interaction with information technology than reading output and writing or typing input.16 The distinction between speaking ability and literacy also applies to younger children, who are expected to be a growing segment of novice NII users. It is also relevant to people whose primary language is not English. For example, at the workshop, Adam Porter drew on his experiences with Latino groups to note the importance of simple predictable interfaces with audio support and culturally appropriate presentations (which may include the ability to shift among languages). It will be important that systems (particularly public systems) allow for cross-cultural flexibility in

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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order to better match people's language, conventions, culture, and so forth.

People also vary in their level of computer expertise and style of interaction with computer systems. Research that quantifies these variations and their implications for interface design, however, is sparse. Overcoming an apparent emphasis in the design of today's information technologies on advanced users at the expense of ordinary people was identified at the workshop as a central part of the every-citizen interface challenge. Bruce Tognazzini (this volume) describes a pervasive tendency in the information technology industry to design "toys for boys"-systems that, by virtue of their complexity, superabundance of features and options, and interaction styles that stress unusual logical and spatial cognitive skills, are much more appealing to and usable by power users than ordinary people.

It is vital to understand that the recognition that people have a range of abilities and styles does not mean that system capabilities valued by advanced users should be eliminated. It would be undesirable to do so; advanced users hold special interest for interface designers because, as in other aspects of information technology, these are the people who push the technology and promote innovation, a good part of which later enters mainstream use. However, even advanced users as a group exhibit a range of abilities that should be accommodated; many individuals who have disabilities (such as blindness) turn out to be some of the best power users, as long as the interfaces stay within their sensory capabilities. Moreover, the economic factors that militate against developing unique interfaces for target groups of people with limited interface abilities-economies of scale, transferability of training and skills, and economies of interoperability with mainstream users)-also constrain or inhibit the development of unique interfaces for the most skilled users.

With multiple input/output modes and graceful progression from novice to expert use, interfaces can be made operable by and efficient for experienced and power users along with everyone else. What was characterized at the workshop as universal design aims to produce interfaces that accommodate a range of user skills and abilities and do not exclude people unnecessarily. For example, a text menu that can be read aloud by a speech synthesizer can be used by blind and low-vision people as an alternative to icons and other graphical displays. Conversely, the graphical alternative, if it uses symbols that are comprehensible without words, can be used better than text by people with poor literacy skills. People who are illiterate in English but can read another language could gain access to English text if machine translation between human languages is available; as Chapter 3 notes, this capability is not out of reach for simple

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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systems with limited vocabularies. In addition, any of these can incorporate shortcuts for advanced users.

The nature of the devices and software applications used for NII access influences how readily they might be made universally accessible. Some devices will be general in nature, such as today's PCs, and used for a wide variety of activities. As Larry Goldberg observes in his position paper in this volume, PCs can run specialized text-to-speech synthesizers and thus make applications accessible to blind or illiterate users. Goldberg expressed concern that low-cost "information appliances" with less general-purpose capability than PCs could preclude add-ons such as speech synthesis and large-print displays. Nevertheless, it is apparent that both general and special-purpose devices will be components of the evolving mix of devices and systems that people carry around with them or that reside in specific environments. That mix presents a software challenge for systems integration. The interaction among multiple technical choices and constraints will provide part of the context for interface development, for example, by increasing the potential for customization.

User ability independence and environment independence are synergistic. Providing better access across the range of environments discussed above (many of which have impacts tantamount to transitory situational disabilities) will end up addressing most of the issues faced by people with disabilities. For example:

When interfaces are created that will work well in noisy environments, such as small airplanes, construction sites, busy shopping malls, or for people who must be listening to something else while using their device, we will have created interfaces that work well for people who cannot hear well or at all.

When interfaces are created that will work well for people driving a car or doing something else where it is not safe to look at the device they are operating, we will have created interfaces that can be used by people who cannot see.

When very small pocket and wearable devices for which it is hard to use a full-sized keyboard or even a large number of keys are developed, we will have developed techniques that can be used by individuals with certain types of physical disabilities.

When interfaces are created that can be used by people who are doing something that occupies their hands, we will have systems that can be used by people who cannot use their hands.

When interfaces are created for individuals who are very tired, under a lot of stress, under the influence of drugs (legal or illegal), or simply in the midst of a traumatic event or emergency (and who may have little ability to concentrate or deal with complexity), we will have

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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developed interfaces that can be used by people who naturally have reduced abilities to concentrate or deal with complexity.

Required Elements For Effective Eci Input/Output Systems

Effectively addressing the diversity of activities, environments for use, and users requires an entirely new look at interface design. Almost exhausted is the approach that expects the user to come to the interface and adapt to it, an approach that leaves a large portion of society unable to learn or use existing systems effectively or at all. Even those who are using systems today often interact with the interface using what would best be termed superstitious behaviors, and they often use only a small portion of the functionality of their systems.

Input Options

Even though input techniques may be quite different in different environments, they should share operating principles. An improvement over today's techniques would be for users not to have to master three or four completely different interface paradigms in order to be able to operate their devices in different environments. This implies continuity in the metaphor and interface "look and feel" even though operating entirely visually at one point (e.g., in a meeting) or entirely aurally at another (e.g., while driving a car). Users should also be able to transition from one environment to another and from one device to another (e.g., workstation to handheld), and from one mode to another (e.g., visual to voice) in the midst of a task. The challenge relates not only to conventional communications and information devices, such as personal computers and various kinds of telephones, but also other systems, some embedded in very different kinds of equipment, to which the conventional devices may be interconnected or which may supplant those devices for at least some purposes. New types of input, including passive input, gestures, and increased use of speech and natural language, will not replace existing input techniques but rather complement them, providing the user with a wealth of alternate input strategies to select from depending on the task, environment, and personal abilities or preferences. What is natural, interactive, and supportive is subjective, suggesting the expectation for multiple interfaces.

There is a wide range of input options an interface device can offer. These may be built in, or a device may provide a connection point (such

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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as an infrared port) that would allow an individual to easily use alternative input systems with the device. Some of the input options include:

Typing on a keyboard (still a viable and important interface)-standard, chordic, Braille;

Alternative keyboards-operable with eyegaze, sip and puff, single switch, etc.;

Codes (Morse, abbreviation-expansion);

Handwriting;

Keypads;

Speech;

Gesture;

Video input-passive, gesture recognition, image interpretation;

Optical character recognition (OCR)-including recognition of math script;

Numerous pointing devices;

Touchscreens;

Virtual reality-including direct manipulation; and

Via data link-infrared, radio frequency, cable.

Control Strategies

The strategies used to control a system are similar to the input techniques. These include:

Verbal techniques (keyboard, speech recognition, alternate keyboards, sign language recognition),

Gesture,

Pointing devices,

Direct manipulation (of the object itself or of virtual objects), and

Direct thought control.

The specific approaches and technologies chosen for control will vary depending on the size, format, and function of the device. Ideally, of course, the system would incorporate a sufficiently flexible combination of interface techniques to allow it to be used in different environments by individuals with a variety of (dis)abilities to carry out the different tasks specific to the device. As noted above (particularly with portable devices), by the time interfaces are designed to function in the different environments and situations most of the variations for different users will already be accounted for.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Output Options

Similarly, there is a wide range of display options that a device may offer, including:

Alphanumeric displays;

Graphic displays (high and low resolution, large and small);

Auditory output (monophonic, stereophonic, three-dimensional)-speech and sound, including both artificial and natural sounds;

Tactile (two- and three-dimensional representations as well as Braille presentation of text);

Olfactory (very low bandwidth);

Immersive and virtual reality environments (visual, auditory, tactile); and

Visualization-usually video (two- or three-dimensional) but could also be done verbally.

In looking at the ability to display information in alternative formats, it is useful to differentiate between information that is medium independent and information that is medium specific (and where parallel presentation would be required to provide user choice). Examples of medium-independent information would be information that could be represented purely by ASCII text. Such information can be presented very easily using any number of different modalities, including visually (as printed or displayed text), aurally (as spoken text), or tactilely (as raised letters or Braille). Medium-specific information might be such things as Picasso's Guernica or a symphony. With very medium-specific information (such as Guernica), it is difficult to convey very much of the information in any other medium. Between these extremes lie a number of other types of information, such as the floor plan of a house, a weather map, a company's logo, or even a movie, which may be primarily or optimally presented in one medium (in this case, visual), but which could also be presented (with varying degrees of success) in a second medium (in this case, auditory through description). Making medium-specific information accessible generally involves creating an information package that includes both the original format (picture, movie, etc.) and alternate presentations that are either in complementary modalities or in medium-independent form. In the case of the photograph or diagram, this might take the form of an audio description (complementary medium) or an ASCII text description (medium-independent). For a movie it might include verbal descriptions of the visual information and visual presentation of the auditory information (e.g., captions).

Again, it is important to note that the same techniques that make

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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medium-specific information accessible to people with different disabilities also makes the information accessible to computers and software agents (which tend to be both deaf and blind). For example, putting captions in movies allows text search engines to find the movies based on dialogue in the movie. It also allows users to jump directly to any point in the movie, speech, documentary, etc., that contains a particular word or phrase. If a photograph or movie is also described and the description is stored in electronic text form, search engines can also locate graphic information based on its description. At the same time, consideration of communication-related disabilities is helpful in understanding how, when, where, and why people's needs differ: speech synthesis can help the visually impaired people, whereas visualization can help hearing-impaired people, and so on.

Characteristics Desired for Effective Interfaces

In exploring possible directions for developing more effective interfaces, workshop participants identified the following characteristics, each of which is discussed in more detail below along with approaches for achieving these goals. It was thought that ECIs would need to be:

Easy to understand;

Easy to learn;

Error tolerant;

Flexible and adaptable;

Appropriate and effective for the task;

Powerful and efficient;

Inexpensive;

Portable;

Compatible;

Intelligent;

Supportive of social and group interactions;

Trustworthy-secure, private, safe, and reliable;

Information centered; and

Pleasant to use.

Easy to Understand

Making the interfaces on next-generation devices easier to understand is often equated with making them simpler, but that is not always possible for a given level of reduction in functionality. One place where things can be made simpler is in the removal of unnecessary complexity that does not have anything to do with the task at hand. An analogy can

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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be found in the standard television. When TVs first came out, it was usually necessary for people to understand how to both tune and fine-tune the stations. They also needed to master the vertical and horizontal holds. With advancing electronics, it was possible to eliminate all of these controls and leave the user with only those controls that were really needed in order to accomplish any given task: channel selector, volume control, and perhaps a closed-caption button. The analogy for computers would be to remove all of the work necessary to set up, connect, or make devices work together. The ''plug and play" capability commercialized in the Macintosh, which is the trend today, is an example. There are also computers and printers that need only be brought into proximity with each other, at which time they automatically find each other and connect via infrared beam, configuring themselves and requiring only that the user issue a print command in order to print documents. Having systems that are always on and do not need to be started or configured can eliminate a control and leave the system always up and able to provide assistance.

A second strategy that can be used is to create interfaces that provide a better match with the user's abilities, knowledge base, and expectations. Creating interfaces that are more natural and more intuitive can allow individuals to deal with much greater levels of complexity; doing so presupposes an ability to define and measure naturalness and intuitiveness consistently. Rather than "dumbing down" the interface, it can be made to present the situation to the user in a context with which they are already familiar. The ability to communicate with the computer using natural language (either spoken or typed) is a powerful technique here. The use of natural metaphors and virtual environments (either two- or three-dimensional) can also be helpful here, particularly for some types of tasks. Better ability to handle natural gestures, such as pointing, also could play a role here.

Cueing is another technique for making systems easier to understand, particularly where sequences of input are required that would otherwise need to be remembered. With cueing, a user's progress through a sequence is tracked, and the user is given verbal and/or visual prompts leading through the process or offering help.

Layering can be used to create interfaces that are easier to understand yet still allow for the full functionality that may be desired by power users. Layering basically involves the covering up of more advanced features to present a less complex initial interface to the individual. With mastery of a system, an individual can peel back the layers to expose additional functionality. A simple example of layering can be found on some video cassette recorders (VCRs), which present only a basic set of controls on their face and hide additional controls behind a door. Layering

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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is important in order to provide a mechanism for users to slide gracefully from novice to intermediate to power users. It can also be used to allow advanced systems to function as both an appliance and a tool, depending on the needs and skills of the user.

One goal is to create systems that can function like appliances (i.e., we get good results even if we are not particularly adept) when a person is first learning to use them, but that provide the freedom to use them in more powerful and individual ways as the user's skills increase (i.e., they can become more tool-like). As frequent complaints about VCRs and microwave ovens illustrate, some appliances can be both big sellers and a source of frustration to buyers-presumably because virtually everyone can learn how to do at least the basic functions with them. Designers of other appliances, including more general-purpose computing and communications systems, might learn from the problems and attempted solutions for such products even if it is reasonable to assume some minimum commitment to learning on the part of users (and that assumption is subject to considerable disagreement).

The ability to slide seamlessly from passive to active/interactive mode can also be used to make systems more accessible and engaging to novice users. For example, systems might be designed to be more like television or videotape in nature, where information or activity sequences occur without much input at all from the user. The systems would be designed, however, such that at any point in time that a user took an interest in a particular portion of the information, he or she would be able to begin interacting with the system. One can think of this in terms of watching television but being able to explore topics as they are presented. However, the basic premise can be taken much further than this analogy and be applied to most any type of education or learning, as well as to activities such as communication, information searches, and even creative activities where the system starts creating something that the user either can make minor modifications to (as it is happening) or step in and take full control of. Multiuser domains (MUDs) are another example of environments where an individual can take the role of passive observer until such time as he or she feels more confident and wants to step forward and participate more actively.

Easy to Learn

Hand in hand with easy to understand is the need to make systems easy to learn, but there are differences of opinion as to what that should mean, illustrated in comments made at the workshop. Many designers of computer systems observe that success in areas of life involving depth and complexity comes from problem-solving skill (which helps people to

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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overcome minor technical problems on their own) and a willingness to try complex tasks repeatedly until successful. The alternative may involve making the space of possible activities so trivial that there are no potential problems (e.g., pre-set-top box changing of television channels). Some expectation for skill and learning may be realistic, although it should not be an excuse for avoiding improvement.

Some strategies discussed above, such as cueing and the passive/active strategy, can help an individual learn about the capabilities of a system on the fly as it is being used. Especially with layered systems, such cueing and built-in assistance can allow individuals to naturally evolve an understanding of the additional functions of a device in a more natural manner as they are using the more basic functions of the device.

In addition, overt training functions could be built directly into the devices that would introduce the user to the various functions. Instead of being "tutorial" in nature (like an electronic videotape), these training functions might take the form of mentoring systems, as well as the "follow-then-lead" approaches suggested by the passive-to-active strategy above. (See also discussion under "Supportive of Social and Group Interactions'' below and Chapter 5.)

Mechanisms to allow users to learn new techniques and strategies will be important for a couple of reasons. First, there simply may not be any good metaphors or experience base from daily life that matches with all of the functions of a device. Individuals will need to learn new concepts when this happens. Second, the model or real-life metaphor may not be a particularly efficient or effective way of carrying out a task. It may be useful in the beginning, enabling initial use-to write letters, make phone calls, write checks. But over time the same metaphor that worked so well to introduce users to a system may hamper their ability either to understand or to use advanced features. In this case, either specific training modules or on-the-fly training techniques might be used to slide users gracefully forward into higher levels of understanding and additional capabilities.

Social scientists at the workshop noted the appeal of interfaces designed to provide simple but conceptual models (e.g., electronic diagrams) of how things work, what is going on in the application, so that "help" can be better understood or so that people will be able to understand on their own where they are in an interaction. Doing this implies understanding what makes a good model as well as how such models can be designed to convey complex information accurately to nontechnical users at an appropriately general but still useful level of abstraction.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Flexible and Adaptable

One thing that is clear from the above discussion of environments, people, and tasks is that no single interface approach will be sufficient for a device (e.g., only speech or only keyboard). This is true even if one is only trying to address the different environments in which it may be used. For example, speech is one very powerful technique. However, as discussed above, speech is not usable in a noisy environment (e.g., a shopping mall at Christmas), or in a quiet environment (a meeting or library). Similarly, the keyboard, another powerful technique, is not usable when walking or driving a car.

Ideally, therefore systems should exhibit:

Environment/situation independence-that is, systems should be portable and usable wherever the user happens to be and whatever happens to be going on around the user.

Equipment independence-that is, systems should work when only low bandwidth is available, when the user switches to a device with a poor display size or resolution (because a high-bandwidth, high-resolution device is unaffordable or because the user is simply in a low-band-width access location or is using a very small device).

User (ability) independence-that is, systems should be usable by all individuals regardless of their visual, hearing, cognitive, or manual abilities.

Modality independence-that is, systems should not require that users view the information in any particular format or via any particular sense.

Task appropriateness-that is, systems should allow users to vary the way that information is input or presented to match the particular task a user is engaged in and to match the abilities the user has left given any other tasks being carried out in parallel (not using the particular system).

It is clear that a "least common denominator" strategy will not work (e.g., only using capabilities that everyone has or that could be used in any environment). That approach would require development of an interface with no visual display, no auditory output, no speech input, and no manual controls and that could be used while the individual is distracted or unable to think or concentrate well. This leaves little except direct mind control, which is being explored but seems very speculative at this time.

The alternative is to create flexible modality-independent interfaces: interfaces that allow the user to select the input, control, and display

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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BOX 2.4 Multimedia and Multimodal Interfaces

Mode or modality refers primarily to the human senses used to process incoming information (e.g., vision, audition, taction, olfaction), not mode in the sense of purpose (e.g., word processing mode versus spread sheet mode). Additionally, in its conventional definition, medium refers to both the material object (e.g., paper, video) and the means by which information is conveyed (e.g., a sheet of paper with text on it). These definitions could include the possibility of layering, so that a natural language mode might use written text or speech as media even though those media themselves rely on other modes.

Media and mode are related nontrivially. First, a single medium may support several modalities. For example, a piece of paper may support both language and graphics, just as a visual display may support text, images, and video. Likewise, a single modality may be supported by many media. For example, the language modality can be supported visually (i.e., written language) and aurally (i.e., spoken language). In fact, spoken language can have a visual component (e.g., lip reading). Just as a single medium may support several modalities and a single modality may be supported by many media, many media may support many modalities, and likewise. For example, a multimedia document that includes text, graphics, speech, and video affects several modalities (e.g., visual and auditory perception of natural language, visual perception of images (still and moving), and auditory perception of sounds). Finally, this multimedia and multimodal interaction occurs over time. Therefore, it is necessary to account for the processing of discourse, context shifts, and changes in agent states over time.

SOURCE: Maybury (1994).

modalities that best meet the user's current environment, current abilities, and current task. Box 2.4 defines and discusses the relationship between modality and medium; implicit in the distinction is the relationship between input-level (e.g., vision) and higher-level processing (e.g., language or image). This distinction is important in thinking about the appropriate selection of mode and medium for ECIs to use in different circumstances, including strategies that combine multiple modalities and media in a single interaction.

Because an individual will probably need to access information appliances and tools in a wide variety of environments even in a single day, it will be important that modality independence be built into the base product and that it be easy, seamless, and natural to move between modes. As discussed above, it is important that these interfaces accommodate the full range of users, from novice through expert power users. This daily switching among modes also implies the value of a common "look and

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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feel" or underlying metaphor or behavior across the different devices or display formats (e.g., visual versus auditory); see "Supportive of Social and Group Interactions" below for observations on standards. When switching from keyboard and display screen access to the information in a meeting to voice input/output access to information while driving between meetings, the user will want to have the system feel and behave as similarly as possible.

Required Versus Optional Flexibility. Although it is important that users be allowed to tailor their products, they should not be required to do so. Allowing users to adapt the interface to meet their constraints and preferences is important, but setting a system up so that an individual user must tailor it before using it quickly adds complexity to the system. Today, in many cases, to configure a system is much more complex and foreign to users than actually using the product once it is configured.

One powerful concept is a mechanism that would allow the device to recognize the user's needs and adapt to them. This might come either from monitoring the user's behavior or by the user carrying a small card or device (such as a wireless smart card) that contains his or her preferences and that could be automatically read by the device. Issues of privacy arise here, but the card need not identify the person. The card could simply indicate the user's preferred mode for interacting with devices.

It will be important to define and explore the full option space for increasing customizability in access appliances. The ramifications and appropriateness of having an NII identity for every device and system, as some expect to accompany/enable ubiquity, are incompletely understood. Related questions pertain to sustaining greater portability of device identifiers/identities and to enabling grouping of different devices into a new appliance (e.g., via shared object systems).

Appropriate and Effective for the Task

Not all interface techniques are appropriate for all tasks. The flexibility provided needs to allow for the user to select interfaces that best match the particular task. In the attempt to make all services available to all people, it is also important to allow individuals with more advanced skills and full use of all their senses the opportunity to use whatever interface is most effective for them and the task. It will almost always be true that an individual with a reduction in one or more of his or her senses or physical abilities will have a lower bandwidth available for either input or output. This does not necessarily result in lower effectiveness or productivity, but it does imply a narrower-bandwidth input/output channel. A challenge will be to develop interface techniques and flexible

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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information systems that can maximize the efficiency of individuals operating either in constrained environments or with personal constraints with a goal of matching the efficiency of users with high-bandwidth interfaces. This challenge, however, should not be equated with reducing the bandwidth or the interface efficiency for those who do not have physical or sensory disabilities.

Again, it is interesting to note that in looking at collaborative systems, we will be looking at trying to collaborate with a computer-a system that has distinctly impaired vision, hearing, and cognitive abilities. The research aimed at developing interface strategies that work for people with physical and sensory limitations should provide interesting insights for those working on intelligent collaborative machines (and vice versa).

Powerful and Efficient

Expert or "power" users tend to complain about the limitations of contemporary interfaces for meeting some of their needs, although some of those complaints may be shared by novices, too. Upon scrutiny, the complaint may relate at least as much to the application-which may have a limited "understanding" of the user's intentions-as to the interface; judging from the workship, that differentiation confounds much of the discussion of interface needs.

In making an interface easy to understand and flexible, it is important that the system not be "dumbed down" or made less efficient. Through layering, as well as alternate access methods, it is possible to have systems that are both easy to understand and still efficient for individuals who are more experienced or have advanced abilities. Multisensory presentation, short-cuts, and memory-based acceleration techniques are all examples of strategies that can be used to provide higher-bandwidth interfaces for individuals who are able to handle them.

Inexpensive

The vision of interfaces for every citizen implies the availability of systems to much of the population, and that implies affordability. Affordability reflects both the cost to purchase and the cost to own and use a system. The much-hyped rapid change in the information technology marketplace begs questions about the prospects for an access system that does not have to be replaced every 2 years because its functionality has obsolesced-for example, by assuring that when a new interface is needed it can be delivered and installed over a network without a huge user investment in cost and effort or in getting old data to work with new applications. (The same issue applies to hardware.) Tools that facilitate the transfer and

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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implementation of appropriate techniques in commercial products and better testing strategies for evaluating the ability of new devices and interfaces to meet the needs of low-income people (and segments of the mass market) could support affordability and broader access objectives.

Both device and service characteristics will be shaped by the larger context of computer, communications, and consumer electronics trends. CRTs (cathode-ray tubes), for example, have dominated computer displays because the television marketplace drove down the cost of that technology over many years. Communications bandwidth into and out of the home comes at a price, which affects what people choose to do from home and what features they seek or can afford in access devices (today, for example, ISDN service is available at a premium over "plain old telephone service," although emerging data service from cable operators will result in price competition). Meanwhile, debates over the design and commercial viability of so-called network computers raise questions about the architecture of the evolving information infrastructure-what can or must be done in the user's device, what can or must be done in the network, what is centralized and what is distributed, and so on. There are many technical, economic, regulatory, and business factors interacting in the environment within which interface design decisions must be made. Comments at the workshop and on the review draft of this report underscore the wide range of appreciation for the larger environment and for the interactions that shape demand and supply for the technologies for which interfaces are needed.

The needs of lower-income people raise questions about how to lower the historically relatively high cost of access devices (notably PCs), how to gain more functionality from inherently low-cost access devices (such as telephones, televisions, and newer variants of "network computers"), and how to leverage information services at minimal cost. There is no agreement yet on how far one can go with "green screens," how much functionality of the desired/needed type can be achieved without the level of sophistication implied by contemporary graphical user interfaces. Flexibility and options with regard to display can be important. At the workshop, Adam Porter, for example, noted the need in low-income populations for support for presentations on low-bandwidth devices or devices without fixed Internet addresses (e.g., locator systems, services that can be suspended and resumed). Systems that can be used with variable-resolution displays and different bandwidth connections lend themselves to use by individuals with less expensive interface devices. Network services, such as video or auditory communication, which allow the user to degrade the video or audio quality in exchange for lower-cost connections (since fewer packets are being exchanged) can lower usage costs. Also, if information is available in visual, auditory, or ASCII text format,

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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users can select formats that both match their abilities and/or preferences and their pocketbooks. Another important feature might be some advance indication of the resources needed to accomplish a task (and, therefore, the associated costs) prior to its being initiated. This will be particularly important when agent-oriented and other more automated systems are more common.

The expectation for a range of device types raises questions about how to devise criteria for, and enable, applications design that support the required functionality for low-end interfaces at a usable level while providing high-end interfaces the options to exploit their special affordances. This range of support may be especially important for public-interest applications (e.g., delivery of government information and services). For example, are there ways to facilitate support for both information creating/sending and retrieval/reception in even lowend/low-cost access devices? What does it take to achieve flexible data structures/presentations that serve different populations without duplicating content? This kind of exploration of the hows and whys of public-interest applications raises questions about the tradeoffs between multiple interface options and equity attained by efforts to provide the same interface for all users that are outside the scope of this report but that, to the extent they are addressed by political processes, will affect the environment in which interface design decisions are made.

The cost challenge may be particularly great for subpopulations with limitations for which a significant market is not recognized or likely. At the workshop, Candace Sidner, of Lotus Development Corporation, noted the lagging support for blind users associated with recent advances in graphical user interfaces and suggested that similar market dynamics militate against industrial support for research on the use of speech interfaces by users with visual, motor, or linguistic limitations.

Portable

The vision of being able to have a system that will work and be available to the user at any time in any place is dependent on the system being portable. Research on device, network, application, and middleware aspects is proceeding under the nomadic computing aegis; also, with miniaturization continuing at the pace it is, it will be only a matter of time before very powerful systems can be made that are quite small and easily worn. Creating displays and input systems for these very small portable systems, however, will continue to be a challenge. This is especially true if they are to be used in noisy or silent environments where speech cannot be readily used.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Compatible

The new and evolving systems will have to be compatible with legacy systems to at least some extent. This issue is explicit in telephony and television and more de facto in computing; where common, it is associated with slowing the process of change. The convenience of user access to the NII and the impression of high performance in the user interface are greatly enhanced by interoperability (between equipments, networks, applications), consistency (the same or very similar interface is used everywhere), and easy adaptability of a component to an environment ("plug and play," "discovery" of other system entities, quick and easy startup of a new service). All of these requirements suggest the importance of norms and standards.

Much of the "ease of learning" that users will experience with new devices will be a function of the similarity of the new devices to ones they used in the past. Interconnectivity and interoperability are also highly dependent on standards. Thus, standardization can have a profound effect on the familiarity of new devices that individuals may encounter in their environments. That said, experiences such as disagreement over proposed transitions from ON/OFF to 0/1 on power control switches do not promise rapid agreement on interface-related standards. In the marketplace, product differentiation is an important source of profit.

A more important compatibility issue, however, deals with the ability of devices to work with each other. At the present time, interoperability of systems is limited, and even getting a computer to work with printers or other peripherals designed to work with it can be a complicated process.17 For individuals who require special adaptive interfaces, it is often a nightmare. It should be as easy as bringing a computer and any peripherals near each other or attaching them to get them to work together. However, integration of key features or functions across platforms and services is an issue in the marketplace; it constrains the commercial support for interface commonalities.

"Plug and play" is an urgent necessity for what a user perceives as a hopelessly complex environment of multiple service providers and facilities. The need ranges from carrying a set-top box from one residence to another and having it work when it is plugged in, with minimal human participation through the remote control, to adapting devices to new services and protocols through automatic refreshing of software. It implies system adaptation and convergence, with devices and applications "discovering" one another. Systems research in this area would be very helpful.

Beyond media, universal and secure commercial protocols (for transactions

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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such as credit card and electronic cash purchases) are essential for individual and organizational trust in the NII; they require industry resolution. Advances in encryption technology are becoming widely disseminated, and there are candidate security systems (such as Secure Sockets Layer) for the Internet that use them. Some observers of the evolution of electronic commerce believe that a widely accepted end-to-end paradigm for secure transactions will be in place within 2 years, encouraging expanded commercial use of Web browsers. This suggests the value of further research on user interfaces for commercial transactions, including handshaking palm-top devices, communicating pocketbooks and wallets, and other innovative interfaces.

Although much of the standards-related work is more in the nature of applied research or development than basic research, and although leaders in the academic technical community often disparage standards-related work, the question of whether basic research could facilitate or support standards setting is especially important for systems intended for the broadest possible use. For example, research that could contribute to standards could illuminate options for maintaining a univerally understood paradigm across heterogeneous people, devices, access networks, and locations, using whatever media and media quality are possible in a given situation. In the ECI area, as in others, standards raise concerns about limiting commercial offerings to lowest common denominators, which some maintain is the flip side of highest-possible access.

Intelligent

To achieve much of the friendly, supportive, collaborative, and mentoring characteristics discussed above, it is necessary for the systems to be intelligent. "Intelligence" is an elusive quality, the definition of which differs with the speaker. Although global intelligence would be ideal, even systems that are intelligent only for a limited range of topics or activities could be very useful. Any ability on the part of agents to provide feedback to an individual as to its state or understanding would be helpful, particularly when operating in an anticipatory mode and trying to predict or take semiautonomous action based on its predictions of the user's needs.

There is also much room for progress around elicitation techniques. Often, users are unaware of which questions to ask or what options are available to them. Developing systems that can help users determine what they should do and how they might accomplish their desired goals could be very powerful in helping novices or individuals with less technical skill to master and effectively use the new technologies.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Finally, in considering agent technologies, it is important to realize that agents may be architecturally external to the device or systems we want them to control. This introduces the need for an "external agent" interface to the software system as well: an agent that is probably only going to be able to deal with ASCII text or "medium-independent" interfaces. (For a more extensive discussion of intelligent agents, see Chapter 6.)

Supportive of Social and Group Interactions

Speculation about very large numbers of individuals engaged in various social or interpersonal interactions (e.g., group discussions, visits to public places such as on-line museums or exhibits, doing routine tasks such as checking on the status of a filed Medicare or other insurance claim) raises questions about what can be learned about how to make these kinds of interactions work. (See Chapter 5 for detailed discussions.) For example, what social mechanisms can be evolved or developed or experimentally introduced that will preserve freedom of speech but prevent, reduce, or mitigate destructive individual behaviors so that large-scale network-based interactions can proceed? (This is new territory in social theory.) Will there be a need for significant numbers of human facilitators to give help and support; if so, what tools, interfaces, and other support will they need to enact their roles? What are the critical psychosocial features or dimensions of interactions with people or information that are likely to influence the effectiveness of public-interest activities carried out via networked infrastructure? What differences are introduced by the NII media in these activities? How can NII interface design boost positive effects or damp negative ones? (In discussing some of these questions, workshop participants suggested that clinical communications could provide a test case.) For example, when does a community use setting feel okay? Under what conditions or for what purposes do such settings not feel sufficiently private? (Note that this research question concerns privacy as a psychosocial experience, not as a property of systems per se.) Also, what are electronic analogs of emotional or other reaction that are expressed nonverbally in in-person interactions? Do signs such as :-), sometimes referred to as "emotions," really work for everyday citizens as nonverbal cues?

More generally, how are the pragmatic dimensions of NII-based interactions to be accommodated? For applications expected to serve large cross-sections of the public, interface design may affect experiences with and perceptions of class-based functionality in interactions between citizens and government agencies or citizens engaged in public-interest activities based on interfaces and hardware platforms. Minimizing class-based

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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distinctions in those interactions can make participation more egalitarian, which may be particularly important in at least some applications, and it should be a consideration in interface and system design. In what ways might the interface representations of participants in a public-interest interchange give status signals or otherwise produce information on socioeconomic status (e.g., because of differences in low-cost or subsidized interfaces and high-end interfaces to public-interest functions)? How can systems for public participation be designed to obliterate status insignia (e.g., based on types of access that indicate very low-end machines, public-access community settings, subsidized users)?

Trustworthy-Secure, Private, Safe, and Reliable

Although information security has often been viewed (and therefore too often dismissed) as specialized, the extension of information infrastructure to more citizens is driving an expansion of security to the broader concept of trustworthiness, linking it to complementary considerations for privacy, safety, and reliability. Protections are needed against both inadvertence and malice in a world of what Mark Weiser has called ubiquitous computing, where personal information infrastructures relate to more general information infrastructure, and where dependence on information infrastructure implies systems to assure trustworthiness of people and systems with which one communicates. Security mechanisms for identification and authentication are likely to become more common elements of interfaces; the question of how much information one should reveal about oneself (and in exchange for what) in that context is open and itself sensitive to technological options as well as broader public policy parameters. For example, a number of technical options for automatically capturing, recording, and even analyzing data about users and their patterns of use (their behavior) are becoming more common but not necessarily apparent to users.

The interface aspects of information security are associated with the challenge of making security solutions more convenient, inexpensive, and more readily accepted and used by people. At the workshop, Stephen Kent, of BBN, noted three research areas, each with long roots: managing confinement (to limit the use of information systems and resources to those authorized), certification (for presumed public key infrastructures as complements to assumed growth in the use of encryption for a variety of protections-of privacy, security, or intellectual property and other rights), and personal tokens for identification and authentication purposes (reflecting the shortcomings of more familiar password-based access control technology). Separation of an identity token from a basic access device may take on growing importance with broader civic use of

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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the NII. For example, identification is required in many dealings with the government; services beyond the simple supply of information require identification and authentication for privacy and security, and so realizing the NII promise involves joint improvement of interfaces and applications to incorporate these functions.18 Depending on how the interface is designed, it is possible to either enhance or compromise the individual's privacy in carrying out transactions with the systems. This is particularly important around public information systems and systems that can monitor user activity. Overall, enhanced reliability of infrastructure services may be supported by more attention to and integration of studies of physical device reliability, software protocols, and operator errors.

The broadening base of users and applications implies a concern for many dimensions of reliability, which relates to basic system design as well as interfaces. For individuals who are novice or less expert, as well as those with lesser ability (physical, sensory, or cognitive), this includes the ability to help avoid serious and nonreversible errors (although the ECI concept implies this ability is valuable to all). Options relate to strategies to allow more types of actions to be reversed, strategies for requiring confirmation (that do not become so automatic that they are instantly overridden), strategies for identifying and predicting potential mistakes or suspected mistakes, and better cueing techniques for error recovery. For heavier users potentially subject to repetitive strain injuries, the interfaces may be designed in such a way as to help detect potential injury and provide guidance.

Information Centered

The growing pervasiveness of information suggests that interface designers consider a perspective that is information centered, rather than or in addition to one that is application or tool centered. At the workshop, Johanna Moore, of the University of Pittsburgh, described this replacement as a change in the ''basic currency" of the NII from applications to information. A fully information-centered approach would allow people to use whatever application they wished and to extract pieces of information from documents-such as lines from a table displayed in a Web page.19 In a mode-free, information-centered design, people would have one spell checker that could be brought to bear against any text anywhere.

The concept of an information-centered perspective poses hard problems that begin with developing a better understanding of what information is. As the forms of information have diversified and intermixed in the NII, our fundamental concept of information-what we know, how we know it, how we relate to it-has become unstable and must be updated

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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BOX 2.5 What Is Information?

In addressing the question of how to provide every citizen access to the NII, we inevitably cast our questions, at least in part, in terms of information. We assume that citizens will use the NII to get to information, whether from relatively static information sources such as Web pages, databases, e-mail, newsgroup items, and files, or from more dynamic sources such as people, services, and computations. The interfaces we build for every citizen, and the research supporting their designs, will depend upon and be framed in terms of providing every citizen with access to information.

The centrality of the notion of information to the development of research programs raises the question of whether the concept of information is well understood. If our understanding of this concept rested on foundations held in common and agreed upon by the joint community of researchers, funders, suppliers-of hardware, software, functionality, and content-and the users of interfaces, then one huge area of potential misunderstanding and difficulties could be regarded as safely under control. However, not only is there no such agreement, but many working in the fields that affect interface design and development do not even recognize that there is an issue here. Different communities use the term "information" presuming a certain meaning, without recognition of the alternatives or of the consequences of adopting a particular stance. Different conceptions of information lead to different questions, different approaches, and different ways of evaluating solutions. Given the scale and diversity of the NII, research agendas may have to be reexamined in light of the foundational assumptions they are making about information.

In everyday conversation, "information" refers to facts or knowledge that may be acquired either directly by observation or indirectly by reading or hearing from another. Although there is allowance for error (e.g., "He gave me incorrect information," misinformation), there is usually some presumed authoritative source; the authority might derive from direct observation (and trusted senses) or from the reputation of the source.

Box continued page 61

There are two predominant formal technical treatments of the concept, one from the mathematical theory of information, the other from philosophical work in semantics. These two treatments differ from the naive conception and from one another.(see Box 2.5). Otherwise, conflicting assumptions will confound people's interactions with information.

An information-centered perspective implies better understanding of the dimensions of information that determine how well people can create, publish, search, browse, retrieve, study, integrate, validate, and use information. How good is the information? Can it be trusted? Is it easily accessible or remote and untouchable? Does it form a part of a larger whole, leading to deep understanding, or does it stand in isolation? Is it useful when found, or does it require an inordinate amount of effort on the part of the finder to comprehend it and concentrate it? Can information from different sources be integrated in meaningful ways? These

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Box 2.5 continued from page 61

The mathematical theory of information is concerned with the amount of information and the accuracy with which it is transmitted. It does not consider meaning; neither what the information is "about" nor its truth (or falsity) are factors that play roles in the questions that information theory asks nor the techniques it develops. It is thus clear why the major impact of information theory is on issues of bandwidth, channel, and the like.

Philosophical-semantic treatments deal instead with content and meaning; their focus is on how to treat formally the concept that some entity (the sign or message) "carries the information that. ..."* These theories are newer and less well developed than the theory of information. Although they deal explicitly with the "content" aspect of information, which is central to everyday use of the term and the ways in which ''every citizen" will conceive of information for the NII, they do not address issues of how information is represented, encoded, or displayed, all of which are also of importance for ECIs. Furthermore, because they are grounded in "truth," they are unable to deal adequately with misinformation or with questions of authoritativeness.

A major issue for the NII, and certainly for ECIs for the NII, is understanding how these three different perspectives-everyday, mathematical, and philosophical-semantic-relate. Integration of these perspectives will be important for economic issues (which view information as a commodity to be paid for), legal issues (e.g., intellectual property rights), and control (e.g., personal view: ownership, conjoint the right to make change). Thus, the NII must ultimately deal with a conception of "information" that encompasses all facets of everyday use of the term. Both the mathematical and semantical theories can contribute to this understanding, but there are facets important to the NII that neither cover.

* A simple example of the concept, "X carries the information that Y," is "smoke carries the information that fire [is present]." Technically, the issue is that X counter-factually supports Y (i.e., if one has X, then one has Y and, furthermore, if Y weren't around, one wouldn't have X).

SOURCE: Austin Henderson, Apple Computer Corporation.

questions go well beyond requirements for interfaces, but interfaces can support the user seeking to answer such questions. The central concern is dealing with large volumes of information of varying and uncertain quality, recognizing that "quality" can be both subjective and dependent on context.20

Research to support better finding and use of information will be complicated by the absence of standard ways to convey the quality of information to people and the dependence of quality on the context of publication or use, suggesting value in a flexible way of representing quality-grounded in a sound sociological understanding of how people use information-so that people can differentiate the quality of information

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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for their own context. Interface approaches should take into account not only the needs of end users but also the larger evolution of the information infrastructure per se: the proliferation of information and changes in its cost structure affect the demand for editing, publishing, and library services as well as the demand for information per se.

Support for searching and retrieving, including catalogs, abstracts, and other tools, are among the challenges. Ben Shneiderman, of the University of Maryland, argues that searching should not be invisible-people should be informed about and have input into choices about the scope, attributes, results, and opportunities for refinement of their queries (Shneiderman et al., 1997). Kept informed, people can learn and grow from novice to expert searchers. In addition, interdisciplinary assessment can illuminate subtle aspects relating to how information and options for tools are presented. For example, according to recent research by Nass and Reeves (1996), interactive media generate fundamental psychosocial cues even where not intended, and other research points to the impact of wording in commands, messages, presentation of images, and so on.

Other challenges relate to the fact that publishing is not a neutral activity, as noted above. Reflecting classical concerns about control over content by those with control over conduits, Apple's Austin Henderson cautioned, at the workshop, that

failure of the NII [would] be that a small collection of sources broad- or narrowcast their creations to the waiting masses. As the printing press let everybody be a reader, the copier let everybody be a publisher, the personal computer let everybody be a writer, so the real promise of the NII is that it will allow everybody to be an author (create and publish). The NII can give everybody a voice. A deep concern is whether such plurality of voices will be discouraged or encouraged.

Concerns about control over content have shaped past public policy relating to content and equal access in broadcasting (radio and television), antitrust legal inquiries relating to screen displays in computerized reservation systems provided by airlines to travel agents, and recent public statements of information service providers and consumer advocates about screen displays associated with Web browsers and other Internet-related services. Public policy may impose requirements on interface design; technologists should become prepared by recognizing the issue and considering the technical options for representation, display, finding, filtering, and so on. Research on tools for publishing should consider the conflict between the goals of information providers and those of consumers. For example, commercial providers may want to prevent people from mixing and matching parts of services and/or missing the advertising.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Already, computer systems vendors have been contending over control and content of the initial displays associated with operating systems and browsers. More generally, Susan Hockey noted, at the workshop, that even apart from explicit digital annotations or hypertext representations, the processes of transcribing a text (including encoding of accented characters) or digitizing an image (including possible enhancements) involves decisions about the intellectual content of the object.

One approach that may affect interface design is to more consistently add metadata to information that could help people-or machines acting on their behalf-to interpret and integrate information. Metadata describe the attributes of information such as format, quality, intended purpose, version, origin, and underlying assumptions. Because everyone views the world differently, integrating information requires a shared description of semantic content. For example, at the workshop, Louis Hecht explained that the Open Geographic Information Systems Consortium Inc. is working on standards for semantic translation because different geodata producers and users give the same geographic feature different names, sets of descriptive parameters, and metadata. Similarly, Kent Wittenburg of Bellcore suggested that research on standardized distributed object-like protocols holds promise for integrating across services, noting that, although commercial services will continue to improve interfaces for searching and browsing, customizing searches across multiple services is a longer-term problem.21

According to Craig Knoblock, of the Information Sciences Institute, the most natural way to model the semantic content of information sources is in reference to ontologies-knowledge representations that can be constructed for a given subject area (e.g., stock market data); machine learning technology is needed to automate model generation because the body of information is so large.22 Because the metadata also will become semantically drifted, Knoblock argued against central standardization: "There is going to have to be some kind of distributed solution, where if you have these information providers that are actually buying this information, they are going to have to change their model and update things. There has to be enough information in the underlying structure that it is easy to make those changes. But there is no way that you can anticipate all those changes."

Moshe Zloof, also at the workshop, cautioned against reinventing lessons from decades of experience with database management. New approaches such as using agents to model the semantics of unstructured data now flooding the Web may be less effective than structuring the data to begin with (e.g., by using a relational database model). As Austin Henderson observed, however, fixed structures-whether embodied in a database or modeled from diverse sources on the Web-inevitably become

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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out of date: "Suddenly my database shifts, not because anything in it shifts, but because the world shifted. This is the well-known problem of semantic drift. ... [We are] never going to get everyone to agree [on a structure. We are] always going to be in the position of negotiating."

Pleasant to Use

An important factor in attracting new users and helping them overcome their fear of technology is creating interfaces that are naturally attractive and fun to use. A key historic differentiator between home and work, underscored by social scientists at the workshop, is the element of "desirability": home uses of technology have tended to be discretionary, and interfaces or other aspects of technology that do not appeal to consumers are often not used in the home. The HomeNet study, for example, focuses much more on what people want to do than what they need to do, as would be the case at work. At the workshop, Robert Kraut, of Carnegie Mellon University, explained that there is no direct connection among utility, usability, and desirability and that much is not understood about how those qualities do or can relate to each other. Making systems less threatening, less technical looking, more familiar, and more interesting and fun will be important components in creating interfaces that will actually be approachable and used by many individuals. As mentioned above, these systems, however, must gracefully lead to more efficient interface strategies whenever the interesting/fun interfaces are, themselves, not efficient for long-term or general use.

The pleasure, fun, or desirability of use is part of a broader pattern of interaction with behavior that should be considered in designing interfaces. For example, the ability, in a communications context, to see people on screen, especially in real time, can affect how involved an individual is but also tends to result in payment of more attention to physical appearance, associated symbols and cues that can be removed with other communication modes, and increase in cognitive load, which affects attributions to others and persuasiveness. Regardless of context, as Sara Kiesler observed at the workshop, every change in an interface implies changes in social psychology, organizational processes, and other side effects for organizations and individuals-effects that can be studied and anticipated.

Telepresence, in the form of casual video conferencing and collaboration, is the subject of much speculation about how technology can eliminate barriers to intimacy. Although many technologists and business analysts tout video teleconferencing as a possible "killer app" for the NII, Robert Kraut and Sara Kiesler noted that research over 25 years suggests limited payoff to it-conversations accompanied by video are not clearer, information exchange is not better-but some do like it better than simple

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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audioconferencing. Similarly, different attitudes have been recorded for participation in text e-mail versus systems with image transmission. More optimistic technologists hold out the promise that within a year or two some people will be able to glance into the offices-home- or business-based-of perhaps 60 people with whom they normally interact, in contrast to most video conferencing used for remote meetings with many people in attendance. With the advent of wideband digital networks, ease of use, and better quality, the telecommunications center is moving into personal computers or workstations. As the technology becomes more widespread, most meetings could consist of two people collaborating under casual circumstances; as experimentation on the Internet's Mbone multicast system suggests, extremely large (e.g., in the thousands or more participants) or variable-size meetings also will become easier and may become more common. As discussed in Chapters 4 and 5, large group interactions appear to be an area where more understanding of social dynamics is needed.

Pulling It All Together: Eci Interfaces In The Year 20xx

To describe the future is to risk being wrong, but it is a useful technique for showing how it may be possible to integrate the key concepts of an ECI to work seamlessly together to create a whole new paradigm for interaction between information infrastructure and people. A simple scenario, focusing primarily on the input/output aspects, is provided below.

Along with demonstration or prototype projects, scenarios, per se, were suggested by workshop participants as useful elements of an interdisciplinary research program because of their amenability to computer and social science explorations that begin with their design and continue through assessment of the resulting roles/relationships/outcomes under different rules and starting assumptions. As illustrated at the workshop by Michael Traynor's telemedicine scenario, research could develop and explore scenarios that involve multiple stakeholders and diverse interests that converge on cases of NII use. Scenarios might also provide a training/teaching paradigm related to how new media affect extant procedures, expectations, and so on; similarly, simulation games aimed at policy analysis have already shown that scenarios hold promise for providing a framework or vehicle for collaborative policy deliberation among diverse stakeholders and for arriving at negotiated agreements on policy inputs to the NII decision-making process, but the methodology calls for systematic evaluation.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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In The Year 20xx-One Scenario

It is the year 20XX. Systems with ECIs abound and take a wide variety of forms. Some appear on workstations; others are on accessories carried around as a notepad or cellular phone was carried in the 1990s. These accessories, however, are multifunctional in nature and can be used to access almost any type of information or service available. Many of the ECIs are simply integrated into the environment as part of rooms, vehicles, appliances, and even clothing that people wear. The generalized information systems themselves are integrated so that people can begin a task (e.g., sending a message) in their office on the system built into a desk or wall there and continue the activity seamlessly as they walk out the door to get into their vehicle and leave on a trip.

The systems are modality independent with regard to both input and output. In the office, they may be primarily visual display based (especially if one works in a shared office space). However, as the user gets up and leaves, they are able to seamlessly move from interacting in a visual fashion to interacting in a verbal fashion, completing the "e-mail" as they walk down the hall, get into their vehicle, and head for the airport. While en route, the voice interface can be used to access any of the information transaction or communications systems, in a purely verbal fashion. This might include checking weather "maps," buying a gift for one's spouse, touching base with other colleagues, etc. Since the systems can all work either visually or verbally (words), these same systems work equally well for colleagues who have low vision or blindness or are hard of hearing or deaf. Because the verbal information can be rendered as Braille or speech, the systems could also be used by individuals who are deaf or blind or who are unable to read at all because of specific learning disabilities that prevent them from learning to read or read well visually.

Individuals who have difficulty learning the new systems or new functions on the systems find that there are built-in agents that will help them through whatever task they are interested in and that will interact with them in a friendly, natural language format (or that can interact with the user's own personal agents). They can either speak to the systems aloud, type on the built-in keypad, or use any other technique or device to input information. As users become more expert, they can begin using shorthand phrases, codes, gestures, and other more efficient but less obvious strategies. The user and the systems that the user interacts with develop these strategies naturally over time. These conventions are also passed from one device to another so that users' familiarity with them is interchangeable as they move between physical systems. In addition to using verbal input, many of the systems will have the ability to monitor both the environment around the individual and the individuals themselves for contextual information.

In addition, they can use global positioning systems to determine physically where the individual is and environmental databases to help understand the context or surroundings the individual is in at any point in time. This may include a knowledge of which other people are in the immediate vicinity (inasmuch as they allow this information to be known). With information about the environment, the context, and the individual, the device can much more easily

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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interpret the interactions and requests it receives from the user and may be able to anticipate or facilitate the activities of the user as well.

When an individual does not understand information that is being presented or how to achieve some objective, intelligent agents in the system are available to assist the individual in representing the information in a simpler format or to assist with instructions or with carrying out the activity. Some agents might be autonomous and carry out tasks automatically for the user. Most agents, however, are collaborative and interactive and act more like an intelligent colleague or assistant. They are able to interact with the individual at whatever level and in whatever modality (visual, aural, tactile) is most appropriate and most effective given the environment (noisy, etc.), situation (person's eyes or hands are occupied, or a situation requires silent operation as in a meeting), task, and user abilities or preferences.

Although many situations and environments may require the use of only one or another of the available interface modalities (e.g., visual only, verbal only), there will also be times when the full abilities of the user are available, including simultaneous use of whatever visual, auditory, and tactile manipulative abilities the user may have. In these cases the individual can take advantage of this by using a full immersive environment. For example, the user may use an immersive environment to simulate transport to another virtual environment. Instead of traveling to meet colleagues, the user can sit at a desk and move into a mode where he or she visually, aurally, and manipulatively (and, eventually, tactilely and olfactorially?) joins with other colleagues from around the country in a virtual meeting room where they communicate and exchange virtual documents or exhibits and carry out their meeting. The colleagues around the table who are deaf can have the system invoke a speech recognizer and present its output on the screen. (In the next decade or so, the speech recognition technology will probably still make errors. But for clear speakers and narrow domains of discourse, recognition may be sufficient for understandability.) The text may appear to float in space in front of the speaker, or the user can drag the text displays for different people closer together in the space in front so that it is easier to monitor them simultaneously. People who do not have a hearing impairment also find this feature useful, particularly if they can read faster than they can listen and find it easier to focus attention on a particular verbal stream or to check over what was said when everybody's speech is presented visually. It also allows them to check back over what was said. This is particularly valuable if they are trying to listen to multiple overlapping discourses. Colleagues who are blind or who have difficulty reading any of the printed materials can have the materials presented to them aurally or translated into a form that is easier to understand. Sighted individuals also take advantage of this feature in order to allow them to continue monitoring the situation or demonstration with their eyes while the textual information is being fed to them aurally. Even an individual who is deaf or blind can have the information translated and presented on a special dynamic Braille and tactile display that can be attached to the system.

Immersive environments can be used for a wide range of functions beyond allowing an individual to travel to and visit most any real or simulated spot on earth. They also allow the individual to scale themselves larger or smaller in

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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order to explore or better learn about objects or environments (e.g., the ability to zoom in and out to learn about geography, biology, etc.). They are also used to allow individuals to explore things with their senses that are not available to their senses. This includes seeing the invisible, hearing the inaudible, and translating concepts that have no physical form (such as information) into visual or auditory formats in order to gain new insights. Again, users with all of their senses intact can choose to have the information presented in simultaneous multisensory form. Individuals for whom some senses are weaker or absent have the information presented in forms that best meet their individual abilities and learning styles.

Notes

1. In addition, early experiences are often limited indicators of new technology's benefits: the 1980s and early 1990s discussions of the "productivity paradox" suggest that disappointing financial returns from early computing investments reflect relatively simpleminded automation of existing work processes rather than the fundamental restructuring of those processes that has proved necessary to realize the full benefits of computing. See CSTB's Information Technology in the Service Society (CSTB, 1994b).

2. An interagency assessment of issues and opportunities for kiosks in government applications proposed a staged pilot and market test program that would support data gathering and incorporation of feedback into future design and deployment steps (see Government Information Technology Service (GITS), 1995).

3. The IDC data are at the household level and thus likely to produce higher percentages than the individual-level data from the Census Bureau survey. However even if both data sets were at the individual level, it would still be impossible to draw meaningful comparisons, because they used different sample weightings in order to factor their results to the scale of the whole population. This is one example of the difficulty of identifying trends and making comparisons from survey data in this field.

4. Project 2000 researchers statistically corrected the CNIDS data to weight the sample in proportion to the U.S. population for gender, age, and education-variables known to affect the likelihood of Internet use. Income was not included because of a high nonresponse relate for income in the CNIDS survey; education, however, is a reasonable proxy for income. The researchers also adjusted the data to omit logically inconsistent responses that the CNIDS had included, such as those from people who initially reported having used the Internet but later in the survey reported the opposite. See Hoffman et al. (1996).

5. Whether new Web-page publishing tools are readily usable by nonspecialists remains an open question. For an anecdotal account that illustrates the difficulties novices have with such applications (among others), see Rigdon (1996).

6. Of course, a number of innovative applications of multimedia technology have been introduced for education, but several education experts believe the promise of such technology is only beginning to be tapped.

7. A further challenge results from the level of exposure to a given environment, situation, or task; for example, there is a difference between a mobile phone one rarely looks at, a phone one never looks at, and a phone one uses frequently.

8. A related concern is whether there are general skills that people can learn for use in a variety of settings. Does learning in a specific context ever limit the usefulness of the resulting knowledge?

9. For example, Internet bridge clubs type in bids without idle chit-chat; they sit

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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locked in their houses, staring at text, punching at keyboards.

10. By contrast, the encoding features of the Hypertext Markup Language are mainly used to control the appearance of text (e.g., bold type, fonts, blinking text). HTML's descriptive codes are mostly for low-level constructs such as emphasis or indented lists. It has no standard mechanism for indicating common document parts such as author, abstract, keywords, or references. New HTML codes (tags) for such elements could have the side benefit of being interpretable by software agents for automatic indexing and searching. New tags are continually being proposed and implemented; however, the resulting lack of standardization hinders content producers, because a conscientious Web author must test pages to ensure that they appear properly when viewed with a variety of Web browsers that support different overlapping sets of tags (Schulzrinne, 1996).

11. Note that capabilities for filtering and blocking stand out as features specifically contemplated for children as a subpopulation.

12. According to the Cross-Industry Working Team (1995), nomadicity refers to the ability of people to easily access a rich set of services, other people, and content while they are on the move, at intermediate stops and at arbitrary destinations; ubiquitous refers to systems that access communications and computing services via the NII and that will be at least as common as today's telephone. Moreover, the NII will facilitate connectivity through a wide range of electronic devices, including portable, mobile, and wireless computing and communications.

13. U.S. sales of interactive kiosk hardware were $449 million in 1994 and estimated at $610 million for 1995. The retail sector accounts for 84 percent of kiosks installed in 1995, but Venture Development Corporation (VDC, 1996c) expects faster growth in financial, government, and corporate use. Information-dispensing kiosks are about 60 percent of 1995 installations; the remainder are point-of-sale manufacturing kiosks (e.g., greeting card and business card printing) and transactional (e.g., product ordering, driver's license renewal). VDC expects faster growth in transactional kiosks than in information delivery kiosks, partly because return on investment is easier to justify for a kiosk that sells something than for one that gives free information.

14. The most detailed recent survey of disabilities by the Census Bureau is the 1993 Survey of Income and Program Participation. Although the data are now several years old, it is unlikely that the percentages of people with various disabilities have changed significantly. See http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/disable.html.

15. The survey involved interviews with over 26,000 adults. It measured skills likely to be required in work, home, and community contexts, such as locating and integrating information in a prose passage; writing new text; interpreting lists, charts, and graphs; and reading and using numerical information (U.S. Department of Education, 1992).

16. In addition, as Wallace Feurzeig observes in his paper in this volume, spoken-language interfaces allowing literacy training systems to integrate spoken and written communications could enhance training by enabling learners to build on their spoken language abilities.

17. Interoperability is being advanced through standards such as MPEG for video coding and H.323 for multimedia conferencing. There appears to be a trend for Web-oriented multimedia products (telephony, conferencing) to conform to these standards, which, in the immediate future, will make it much easier to communicate without elaborate prearrangements. Interoperability is also advanced, as described earlier, through the use of transportable software (in a standardized language and virtual machine), which removes the necessity of every party to a session needing to have all of the application software in advance, and distributed object systems, which allow existing applications on diverse computing platforms to interact with one another. Standards are taking on new meaning as a means for facilitating interaction between applications or customizing equipment with

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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transportable software, rather than being rigid constraints on the equipment. Networks, as well as applications, can be customized with transportable software, and programmable networks are a significant near-future research topic.

18. How and when these developments take place depends in part on relevant public policy parameters (e.g., the evolution of cryptography policy).

19. A document-centered approach represents a midpoint, in which people could use various applications, but would still have to access whole documents rather than data from within documents.

20. At the workshop, Robert Kraut, of Carnegie Mellon University, noted that because information is not a passive, inactive thing, it can have different values for consumers and producers. For example, a babysitter who wants to advertise to parents in the neighborhood probably values that information more than the parent who feels bombarded with advertisements from many sources.

21. See http://www-db.stanford.edu/∼gravano/standards.

22. Knoblock refers to information in the Web, but the observation applies more generally to all forms of information in the NII.

Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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Suggested Citation:"2 Requirements for Effective Every-Citizen Interfaces." National Research Council. 1997. More Than Screen Deep: Toward Every-Citizen Interfaces to the Nation's Information Infrastructure. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/5780.
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The national information infrastructure (NII) holds the promise of connecting people of all ages and descriptions--bringing them opportunities to interact with businesses, government agencies, entertainment sources, and social networks. Whether the NII fulfills this promise for everyone depends largely on interfaces--technologies by which people communicate with the computing systems of the NII.

More Than Screen Deep addresses how to ensure NII access for every citizen, regardless of age, physical ability, race/ethnicity, education, ability, cognitive style, or economic level. This thoughtful document explores current issues and prioritizes research directions in creating interface technologies that accommodate every citizen's needs.

The committee provides an overview of NII users, tasks, and environments and identifies the desired characteristics in every-citizen interfaces, from power and efficiency to an element of fun. The book explores:

  • Technological advances that allow a person to communicate with a computer system.
  • Methods for designing, evaluating, and improving interfaces to increase their ultimate utility to all people.
  • Theories of communication and collaboration as they affect person-computer interactions and person-person interactions through the NII.
  • Development of agents: intelligent computer systems that "understand" the user's needs and find the solutions. Offering data, examples, and expert commentary, More Than Screen Deep charts a path toward enabling the broadest-possible spectrum of citizens to interact easily and effectively with the NII. This volume will be important to policymakers, information system designers and engineers, human factors professionals, and advocates for special populations.
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