HCI Seminar Series

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MIT CSAIL HCI Seminar Series

Steven Dow- Understanding Iterative Design with Individuals, Groups, and Crowds
Technologies and services improve through iterative design. How do iterative practices such as critique and reflection affect design results for individuals, groups, and crowds? Our experiments have found that, even under tight time constraints when the common intuition is to stop iterating and start refining, iterative prototyping helps designers learn. Results also show that creating and receiving feedback on multiple designs in parallel—as opposed to serial iteration—leads to more divergent ideation, more explicit comparison, less investment in a single concept, and better overall performance. Moreover, small groups who produce and share multiple designs report a greater increase in rapport, exchange more verbal information, share more features, and reach a better consensus.

Mark Ackerman- Configuration Work and the Escalier System
If ubicomp is to come into being, user issues in the dense ecology of computational services will become paramount. In this talk, I argue that there is a new kind of interactional work coming to the foreground, configuration work - the work that is involved in keeping systems running, running together, and running over time. This is work we do now but is largely invisible and unremarkable; in the future, it may be overwhelming. One way to deal with this problem is have proprietary stovepipes. Another is to automate the process. The first does not provide an open systems solution, and the second is likely to remain brittle.

Björn Hartmann- Feedback, Monitoring, and Free Snacks: Management Techniques for Crowd Work
In this talk , I will present an overview of recent crowdsourcing work in my research group. Specifically, I will present three approaches to improve work quality and increase the complexity of work that can be completed on paid microtask platforms: 1) Our work on the Shepherd system demonstrates how timely feedback and self-assessment can lead to better work and higher worker perseverance. 2) Our Turkomatic system recruits crowd workers to aid requesters in planning and solving complex jobs. Requesters can view the status of workflows in real time; intervene to change tasks and solutions; and request new solutions to subtasks from the crowd.

Aniket Kittur- Crowdsourcing, collaboration, and creativity
Crowdsourcing has become a powerful mechanism for accomplishing work online. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have completed tasks including classifying craters on planetary surfaces, deciphering scanned text, and discovering new galaxies. Until now crowdsourcing has worked especially well for tasks that are fast to complete, incur low cognitive load, have low barriers to entry, are objective and verifiable, require little expertise, and can be broken up into independent subtasks. However, these simple tasks tap into only the lowest levels of human intelligence. In this talk I discuss ways to accomplish creative and complex work through crowdsourcing, including poetry translation, article writing, scientific journalism, and information seeking.

Remco Chang- User-Centric Visual Analytics
Visual analytics is a fast growing discipline that combines visualization, interaction, and data analysis in solving large and complex problems that require human understanding and analysis. Since its inception, the field has mostly focused on the design of visual interfaces applied to domain-specific problems, but less so on the consideration of an integrated human and automated visual analysis environment. In this talk, I will discuss the role of the user in a visual analytics process. Specifically, the talk will cover four connected projects at the Visual Analytics Lab at Tufts (VALT) with an emphasis on how these projects consider the role of the user in decision making, information retrieval, and knowledge discovery.

Tovi Grossman- Understanding and Improving the Learnability of Software Applications
Despite advances made in the field of human-computer interaction, software learnability continues to be a prevalent problem. The topic is particularly relevant and challenging to the designers of large and complex software systems, such as computer-aided design and 3D modeling applications. While technology has evolved immensely over the past two decades, the techniques used to overcome software learnability problems have failed to keep pace. Over the past three years, I have been working with my colleagues at Autodesk Research to explore how we can leverage emerging technological trends, such as enhanced computing capabilities and online social networks, to offer new techniques for aiding software learning.

Desney Tan- The Quest for Always-Available Mobile Interaction
Miniaturizing our computers so we can carry them in our pockets has drastically changed the way we use technology. However, mobile computing is often peripheral to the act of operating in the real world, and the form factor of today’s mobile devices limits their seamless integration into real-world tasks. Interacting with a mobile phone, for example, demands visual, manual, and cognitive focus. I will describe our goal of creating always-available interaction, which allows us to transition between mobile computing and real-world tasks as efficiently as we can shift our visual attention between different visual targets. More specifically, I’ll discuss some of our projects exploring new input techniques that utilize e.g.

Lada Adamic- To Friend and To Trust: Eliciting Truthful and Useful Ratings Online
Online rating and reputation systems have shown themselves to be essential for filtering content, building trust, and fostering communities. However, these ratings should not be taken at face value. When individuals submit ratings online, especially ratings of other people, they are being asked to quantify inherently subjective feelings. To complicate matters, they may formulate their ratings differently if these are shown to others, and if those others can reciprocate. In this talk I will present two studies that combine data analysis of several online data sets. For one such system, CouchSurfing.org, I will discuss findings from a large- scale survey and in-depth interviews to examine from multiple angles the challenges that users have in providing useful and truthful ratings.

Adrian Kuhn- Software Cartography
Imagine software engineers could speak about source code as “up in the north”, “over in the west” or “down-under in the south”. Imagine that everybody involved with a software system had the same spatial and stable and shared mental model of the project. In this talk I present “Software Cartography” a new approach that supports code navigation & understanding through a spatial visualization. The map is always visible in the bottom-left of the IDE, just like the GPS navigation device in your car. For each development task, related information is displayed on the map. The consistent layout of codemaps helps to establish a stable mental model of software systems. Codemaps use the same visual language as cartographic visualizations found in an atlas.

Liz Gerber- Technology that Motivates Creative Action
Creativity is key to our economic and social prosperity. This talk explores technology that motivates creativity by influencing emotion, goals, and beliefs. I discuss three projects. In the first project I introduce affective computational priming, a new method for manipulating affect using digitally embedded stimuli. The second project investigates how accomplishing small goals prior to brainstorming influences task focus, quality and rate of ideation. The third project explores how technology fosters capability and receptivity beliefs necessary for creative action. I explore this relationship through a design initiative I started with students at Northwestern called Design for America.