Affective Assistance – Highlights from TCUK 2010 presentation

This video contains edited highlights from Ellis’ presentation at the TCUK 2010 conference on Affective Assistance, which was called “documentation as an emotional experience for the user”.

We’re developing a workshop on Affective Assistance – contact us if you’d like to know more.


Irene Wong

preempted advice: example
I arrived at HK airport late one night. I was anxious that we were processed quickly because the last bus to the hotel would be leaving in about 45 minutes.
We arrived into the terminal building and couldn’t go directly to Immigration. We had to climb some stairs and at the top of the stairs we were to catch an internal train to Immigration. MOst of us had probably been in huge terminals and had waited and waited at times for trains.

Everyone was feeling anxious/tired after a 9 hour flight (tired with young babies, keen to meet relatives, visit dying relative?? and us to catch a hotel bus) and were clambouring up these stairs. The stairs were wide but one can only get up so quickly with hand luggage, older slow people etc.
But there it was.
A *massive sign* was written down the wall of the 2 flights of stairs. I was in a hurry and didn’t get my camera out (have regreted this ever since). But what it said is something along the lines of: Don’t worry. The train to Immigration runs every 2 minutes.
Phew what a relief to read that. You could almost feel the relief. The mass scamble ever upwards slowed.
Now THAT is a good instruction. We knew that Immigration was only minutes away.


Great presentation. Thanks for sharing it. And thanks, Irene, for your example.

Peter Braham

Lovely and informative. I like the name, affective assistance, too.

This crystalizes why we need very different help text for error handling (intended for a baffled user, probably highly emotionally aroused), compared to the help for a product overview.

However, I wouldn’t say technical users were unemotional – an attribution error, I think. Speaking stereotypically of course, technical users can get highly emotional about the intrusion of a non-technical tone into technical documentation…

Thanks for the talk,

Dan Osborne

Interesting stuff.
It certainly make me think about how ‘dry’ my writing can be, and has made me realise that i respond better to ‘affective assistance’ when consulting help myself.



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