Head, James, Helton, William S. and Wilson, Kyle M. (2012) Human factors issues with the use of text-speak communication. In: 6th Australasian Natural Hazards Management Conference, 21st - 22nd August 2012, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Advances in communication technology have significantly changed how individuals communicate (Crystal, 2008). Individuals not only have auditory communication at the their disposal, but also text based communication available through cell phones or computers. Emergency response agencies have begun to utilize text messaging to warn people of impending natural disasters (Samarajiva & Waidvanatha, 2009). These early warning systems can likely save lives by allowing people to prepare accordingly.
Text messaging may also be useful in actual emergency management operations, such as disaster response. In these settings, text based communication could be more beneficial than auditory communication in that it allows an individual to reread a message a later time; text messages serve as an augmentation to human memory which is fallible. For example, civil defense personnel could receive a text message in which details are critical (e.g., survivors on third floor of bank near stairway). Once the message is received, one can reread the message and extract key information that could potentially save lives. One potential problem with text messaging is the limited amount of space available and time it takes to write. To overcome limited amount of space the time limits, individuals incorporate shortening techniques (i.e., text-speak) that allows an individual to convey a word or phrase in a shorter amount of time and decreased amount of space (e.g., srvvrs on 3rd flor of bnk near th strwy, survivors on the third floor of the bank near the stairway). Although text-speak allows one to create a message faster and in a shorter amount of space, processing text-speak could exact a cognitive cost to the reader (Head, et al., 2012). It is likely that civil defense workers responding to natural disasters could be subject to processing text-speak while text messaging. For example, it is common for civil defense to use shortening techniques such as acronyms (e.g., EQC-earthquake commission, GEOC-Group Emergency Operations Centre and MoH-Ministry of Health).

Head Wilson Helton AHNMC poster text-speak 2012.pdf - Accepted Version

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