Proceedings: GI 2005

Using relationship to control disclosure in Awareness servers

Scott Davis, Carl Gutwin

Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2005: Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 9 - 11 May 2005, 145-152

  • BibTex

    author = {Davis, Scott and Gutwin, Carl},
    title = {Using relationship to control disclosure in Awareness servers},
    booktitle = {Proceedings of Graphics Interface 2005},
    series = {GI 2005},
    year = {2005},
    issn = {0713-5424},
    isbn = {1-56881-265-5},
    location = {Victoria, British Columbia, Canada},
    pages = {145--152},
    numpages = {8},
    publisher = {Canadian Human-Computer Communications Society},
    address = {School of Computer Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada},


Awareness servers provide information about a person to help observers determine whether they are available for contact. A tradeoff exists in these systems: more sources of information, and higher fidelity in those sources, can improve people's decisions, but each increase in information reduces privacy. In this paper, we look at whether the type of relationship between the observer and the person being observed can be used to manage this tradeoff. We conducted a survey that asked people what amount of information from different sources that they would disclose to seven different relationship types. We found that in more than half of the cases, people would give different amounts of information to different relationships. We also found that the only relationship to consistently receive less information was the acquaintance -- essentially the person without a strong relationship at all. Our results suggest that awareness servers can be improved by allowing finer-grained control than what is currently available.