Presenter/Author Information

Daryl H. Hepting
Timothy Maciag

Keywords

human computer interaction, environmental decision support systems, user-centered design, tradeoff support

Start Date

1-7-2006 12:00 AM

Description

As individuals are increasingly being called to act in environmentally-conscious ways, they will seek out any and all resources which might help to inform their actions. Unfortunately, a 2002 OECD report indicated that there seemed to be declining trust of environmental information sources and increasing confusion about which actions could be most beneficial. Environmental Software Systems can provide relief in this context, if the software design is user-centered. The very specialized nature of much environmental software may discourage these design practices, but this is a false economy. Instead of software that is based on technical models developed by environmental scientists, consider that which can acquire and adapt to changing end-user models of the particular domain. Such adaptation would certainly benefit users, but research could also benefit considerably from data that could prioritize actions of the environmental scientists, from analysis to education. This shift in emphasis agrees with recent trends toward personalization and democratization of software system functionality. If the number of people who could meaningfully explore a model of a particular ecosystem could increase thousand-fold, there could be considerable benefit realized in the level of discourse on environmental issues pertaining to that ecosystem. Such an increased usage would require the removal of barriers for direct user access to the software systems in order to create satisfying user experiences. For the user to be satisfied when confronting a large and complex information space, he or she must not be overwhelmed but able to easily specify and locate that which is of interest. The theoretical basis for such an approach is presented, along with some evidence thus far collected. Opportunities for improvement are also discussed.

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Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

Opening Access to Environmental Software Systems

As individuals are increasingly being called to act in environmentally-conscious ways, they will seek out any and all resources which might help to inform their actions. Unfortunately, a 2002 OECD report indicated that there seemed to be declining trust of environmental information sources and increasing confusion about which actions could be most beneficial. Environmental Software Systems can provide relief in this context, if the software design is user-centered. The very specialized nature of much environmental software may discourage these design practices, but this is a false economy. Instead of software that is based on technical models developed by environmental scientists, consider that which can acquire and adapt to changing end-user models of the particular domain. Such adaptation would certainly benefit users, but research could also benefit considerably from data that could prioritize actions of the environmental scientists, from analysis to education. This shift in emphasis agrees with recent trends toward personalization and democratization of software system functionality. If the number of people who could meaningfully explore a model of a particular ecosystem could increase thousand-fold, there could be considerable benefit realized in the level of discourse on environmental issues pertaining to that ecosystem. Such an increased usage would require the removal of barriers for direct user access to the software systems in order to create satisfying user experiences. For the user to be satisfied when confronting a large and complex information space, he or she must not be overwhelmed but able to easily specify and locate that which is of interest. The theoretical basis for such an approach is presented, along with some evidence thus far collected. Opportunities for improvement are also discussed.