Characterizing Communication in a Large-Scale, Global Deployment of a Broadcast Messaging System

It has proved difficult to replicate in an online setting the various communication styles people are accustomed to in physical settings. One such style is informal communication, characterized by brief, unplanned and frequent communications. Broadcast messaging attempts to support informal communication online, by letting users send instant messages to largely anonymous groups of people, and initiate a real-time chat with those who respond. In studying a major deployment of a broadcast messaging system, we discovered a fundamental trade-off between a sender’s ability to reach a large audience, and the tolerance of individuals in that audience for receiving many messages. We discuss the types of communications for which broadcast messaging has been used, and we evaluate the effectiveness of two specific techniques designed to prevent individual users being overloaded by broadcasts.

By: Justin Weisz, Tracee L. Wolf, Frank Jania, Jessica Ramirez, Rachel Bellamy

Published in: RC23340 in 2004


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