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Mediating Intimacy with DearBoard: a Co-Customizable Keyboard for Everyday Messaging

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


  • Carla Florencia Griggio
  • Arissa J. Sato, University of Tokyo, Japan
  • Wendy Mackay, Inria, France
  • Koji Yatani, University of Tokyo, Japan
Co-customizations are collaborative customizations in messaging apps that all conversation members can view and change, e.g. the color of chat bubbles on Facebook Messenger. Co-customizations grant new opportunities for expressing intimacy; however, most apps offer private customizations only. To investigate how people in close relationships integrate co-customizations into their established communication app ecosystems, we built DearBoard: an Android keyboard that allows two people to co-customize its color theme and a toolbar of expression shortcuts (emojis and GIFs). In a 5-week field study with 18 pairs of couples, friends, and relatives, participants expressed their shared interests, history, and knowledge of each other through co-customizations that served as meaningful decorations, interface optimizations, conversation themes, and non-verbal channels for playful, affectionate interactions. The co-ownership of the co-customizations invited participants to negotiate who customizes what and for whom they customize. We discuss how co-customizations mediate intimacy through place-making efforts and suggest design opportunities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCHI 2021 - Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems : Making Waves, Combining Strengths
Number of pages16
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication yearMay 2021
Article number342
ISBN (Electronic)9781450380966
Publication statusPublished - May 2021
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • CMC, mediated intimacy, close relationships, soft keyboard, co-customizations, ecosystems of communication apps, communication places, emoji, GIF

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