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Response to [Interaction techniques for ambiguity …] by Mankoff et al.

One Sentence

This paper surveyed existing input ambiguity resolving mechanisms and developed OOPS – a toolkit that addressed the problems in these mechanisms.

Key Points

  • … some problem in interaction causes the system to do something other than what the user intended (our ultimate definition of error);
  • The four ambiguity problems:
    • Adding alternatives: what the user wants to specify is not presented;
    • Occlusion: choice mediators cover important information;
    • Target ambiguity: the target users are going against is not clear;
    • Errors of omission: the users’ input is completely omitted.
  • The two prevailing mediation strategies:
    • Repetition: the user repeats her input until the system correctly interprets it;
    • Choice: the system displays several alternatives and the user selects the correct answer from among them.
  • OOPS takes a step further by allowing recognizers to produce arbitrary input events that are dispatched through the same input handling system as any raw events produced by mouse or keyboard;


A large part of the paper has been trying to point out that the OOPS’ as an individual toolkit can be generalized and reused. In the language of development, this is easily convincing. But what if it is not a software technique but a design idea? How can we claim the design of a particular interaction is ‘reusable’?


About Xiang 'Anthony' Chen

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