Telling the story of older people e-mailing: An ethnographical study
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While e-mail is the Internet application most used by older people, very little is known about how they interact with e-mail systems and use them in their daily lives. We undertook a 3-year ethnographical study aimed at revealing and explaining real life e-mailing. We describe and discuss the nature of e-mail use in terms of social circles; frequency, type of content and patterns of communication; relationship with other technologies and activities; motivation and interactive experiences. Within this context of everyday use, we uncover and explain the (relative) importance of several interaction barriers, such as cognitive load, difficulties using input devices and perception of visual information. We claim that cognitive difficulties are much more relevant than difficulties in reading from the screen, for instance, so challenging results of current HCI research with older people. We show and discuss some implications for designing better e-mail systems (and interactive technologies) for older people.