Managing long term communications: Conversation and contact management

S. Whittaker, Q. Jones, L. Terveen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

17 Scopus citations


Contact management is an important part of everyday work. People exchange business cards to try to enter each other's contact lists. Local businesses provide refrigerator magnets and calendars so they will be called on when a particular need arises. People who use the telephone extensively are selective about who they add to their speed dial lists. Contact management and conversation management are linked. Many busy professionals discourage voice calls and messages, because E-mail enables them to better manage their time, conversations, and contacts. People also spend large amounts of time transcribing voice mail, browsing E-mail archives and writing todo lists - all of these activities are intended to help track the content and status of outstanding conversations. Together, these practices reveal some of the complexities of contact and conversation management. We investigated contact and conversation management by carrying out twenty semi-structured interviews with professionals in assorted fields. Key properties of technologically-mediated conversations identified were: (1) they are extended in time, which means (2) people typically engage in multiple concurrent conversations, and (3) conversations often involve multiple participants. These properties led to a significant memory load for our informants: they spoke of the difficulty of keeping tracking of conversational content and status, as well as the identity, contact information, and expertise of their conversational partners. People respond to these problems by trying to make key aspects of their conversations persistent; however, with current support tools, this strategy meets with mixed success. Building on the findings of our study, we present a new support tool that aids in managing contacts and conversation status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 35th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS 2002
EditorsRalph H. Sprague
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)0769514359
StatePublished - 2002
Event35th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS 2002 - Big Island, United States
Duration: Jan 7 2002Jan 10 2002

Publication series

NameProceedings of the Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences
ISSN (Print)1530-1605


Other35th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, HICSS 2002
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Island

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


  • Asynchronous communication
  • Calendars
  • Data mining
  • Magnets
  • Refrigeration
  • Speech
  • Technology management
  • Telephony
  • Voice mail
  • Writing


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