Edit wear and read wear

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Citation: William C. Hill, James D. Hollan, Dave Wroblewski, Tim McCandless (1992) Edit wear and read wear. CHI '92: Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems (RSS)
Internet Archive Scholar (search for fulltext): Edit wear and read wear
Tagged: Computer Science (RSS) CSCW (RSS), writing (RSS)


Hill et al. introduce the notion of computation wear in this paper from the awareness literature in computer-supported cooperative work. The authors present an example of a project which shows wear in terms of both editing and reading in a modified version of an Emacs-like text editor and suggest that the concept may be broadly relevant in a variety of other other contexts and show designs for menus and others systems that display ware.

The authors maps wear of documents into scrollbars of the Zmacs text editor (essential an Emacs clone for the Symbolics lisp machine) with what they call attribution mapped scrollbars. These scrollbars essentially emphasize different parts of the documents with a sort of histogram of edits based on how often that particular portion of the document has been edited (in the edit wear example) or read (in the read wear example). This provides an easy mode of showing "hot spots" in ways that parallel the way one can find the dog-eared or yellowed pages in a book or the stained recipe card very easily which correspond to physical, rather than computation, wear.

Theoretically, the paper frames the design in terms of Schoen's concepts of reflective work and argues that wear provides a means of assisting in problem setting by providing attention to core areas that have received previous and attention. Before concluding, the authors generalize their suggestion from the specific example of edit and read wear to menus and spreadsheet and suggest that wear is a generally useful concept in a variety of cooperative environments.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

The paper has been cited 180 times in the 18 years since it was published in the CSCW literature.

Ominous patent pending text underneath every example figure may have have played something of a chilling effect on the actual use and implementation of the strategy.