HCI Seminar Series

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MIT CSAIL HCI Seminar Series
Steve Whittaker- The Past, Present, and Future of Digital Memories
Recent technical developments have inspired an interest in 'digital memories': repositories for capturing our entire personal history of personal and work related information that will substitute for our fragile organic memories. I will first review the Digital Memories vision, briefly present various studies that challenge that vision, moving on to suggest an alternative approach to the topic that is informed by cognitive science, suggesting that instead of focusing on exhaustive capture we should be designing prosthetic memory devices that are (a) synergistic with our organic memories (b) have mechanisms for selecting and abstracting critical events from the memory record.

Jeff Nichols- Highlight: Mobilizing Existing Web Sites
Highlight allows end users to create mobile applications from existing web sites and deploy those applications to mobile devices. The Highlight re-authoring environment allows users to start with existing sites they already use and create mobile versions that are customized to their tasks and mobile devices. Re-authoring is performed through a combination of demonstrating desired interactions with an existing web site and directly specifying content to be included on mobile pages. The applications created by end users can be deployed through a novel server-side infrastructure that incorporates a fully-functional modern web browser, allowing existing sites that contain substantial client-side JavaScript or Ajax technology to be modified for use on mobile devices.

Douglas Crockford- JavaScript: The Good Parts
JavaScript is a language with more than its share of bad parts. It went from non-existence to global adoption in an alarmingly short period of time. It never had an interval in the lab when it could be tried out and polished. JavaScript has some extraordinarily good parts. In JavaScript there is a beautiful, highly expressive language that is buried under a steaming pile of good intentions and blunders. The best nature of JavaScript was so effectively hidden that for many years the prevailing opinion of JavaScript was that it was an unsightly, incompetent abomination. My intention here is to expose the goodness in JavaScript, an outstanding dynamic programming language.

William Jones- Putting Our Digital Information in Its Place: Lessons Learned from Fieldwork and Prototyping in the Keeping Found Things Found Project
Does place matter for digital information? If so, how? Research points to the importance of "place-like" senses of direction, context, connection and control when managing digital information. Support for place in the Personal Project Planner prototype begins with the idea that relevant information can be located with reference to a simple planning document. This document works as a light-weight, editable overlay to existing applications and the stores of information managed by these applications. A basic premise of the Planner is that effective management of personal information can leverage and emerge from informal planning and other everyday activities.

Orit Shaer- A Specification Paradigm for the Design and Implementation of Tangible User Interfaces
Tangible user interfaces have shown the potential to significantly enhance computer-mediated activities such as learning, problem solving, and design. However, tangible user interfaces are currently considered challenging to design and build. Designers and developers of these interfaces encounter several conceptual, methodological and technical diffculties. Among others, these challenges include: the lack of appropriate interaction abstractions, the shortcomings of current user interface software tools to address continuous and parallel interactions, as well as the excessive effort required to integrate novel input and output technologies. In this talk, we discuss the design space of tangible interaction in the broader context of the reality-based interaction framework.

Patrick Baudisch - Back-of-Device Interaction Allows Creating Very Small Touch Devices
In this talk, I will discuss how to add pointing input capabilities to very small screen devices. On first sight, touchscreens seem to allow for particular compactness, because they integrate input and screen into the same physical space. The opposite is true, however, because the user’s fingers occlude contents and prevent precision. I argue that the key to touch-enabling very small devices is to use touch on the device backside. In order to study this, we have created a 2.4” prototype device; we simulate screens smaller than that by masking the screen. I present a user study in which participants completed a pointing task successfully across display sizes when using a back-of device interface.

Saul Greenberg - Enhancing Creativity with Toolkits
Interface toolkits in ordinary application areas let average programmers rapidly develop software resembling other standard applications. In contrast, toolkits for novel and perhaps unfamiliar application areas enhance the creativity of these programmers. By removing low-level implementation burdens and supplying appropriate building blocks, toolkits give people a ‘language’ to think about these new interfaces, which in turn allows them to concentrate on creative designs. This is important, for it means that programmers can rapidly generate and test new ideas, replicate and refine ideas, and create demonstrations for others to try.

François Guimbretière - People, Pens and Computers
Pen and paper are important aspects of our everyday life. These simple low-tech tools are easy to use, reliable, and extremely versatile. Yet, they also stand on the margins of the digital world as information gathered on paper is often difficult to manipulate in the digital realm. In this talk, I will present an overview of several projects aimed at bridging the gap between the paper and the digital world. In the digital world, we explored how new command structures can improve the fluidity of pen interactions on Tablet PC. One example was CrossY, a drawing application in which all command selections were performed by crossing targets on the screen instead of pointing and clicking on buttons.

Jill Freyne - Collaborative Web Search: Exploiting Social Interaction Patterns for Increased Result Relevance
Information access systems such as search engines and navigation assistants strive to provide users with access to relevant information given their current needs. Recent research efforts have highlighted the interactive nature of information access behavior and promoted the potential value of harnessing user activity patterns to drive the next generation of social information access tools. The work discussed in this talk revolves around the Collaborative Web Search (CWS) technology developed in University College Dublin. The technology exploits the search interaction patterns of communities of like minded users to provide recommendations of content that reflect the preferences of the community members. CWS is motivated by two key ideas.

Khai N. Truong - Beyond Google
Although the Web and hypertext has clearly transformed the way people solve many problems today, some content still does not exist in an electronic format available online. As a result, people sometimes face a diverse set of problems that they cannot solve easily by themselves as individuals. For example, a person may not be able to answer "if a stroller can be used on the Don Valley trail" after recent snowfall through any means other than trial and error. This talk will examine people's daily information needs and opportunities for addressing such highly situated and contextualized problems through the development of ubiquitous computing tools and infrastructure.