A Method for Formative Multi-Context Boundary Profiling


Permanent reachability via mobile communications technologies has become a ubiquitous phenomenon. The traditional boundaries between peoples’ different contexts in their lives become blurry and begin to dissolve, if they are not actively maintained. Such boundary management activities allow to individually determine which communication request are considered acceptable in a particular context. Existing research in this field has a used a fixed set of pre-specified contexts to examine boundary management activities and identify different boundary profiles. Based on results from context-aware computing and mental model research, we argue for an open-ended, individual set of contexts to be considered for boundary management. Consequently, we develop an open structure elaboration technique to allow for individual specification of contexts and the information necessary to create a boundary profile, as identified in related work. The method is validated in an exploratory study, which was designed to verify the hypothesis that boundary management should be based on individually specified contexts, and show the feasibility of the proposed method. The results indicatively confirm our assumptions and show that the method can be used to elicit the required information.