HCI Seminar Series

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MIT CSAIL HCI Seminar Series

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.

Merrie Morris - SearchTogether and CoSearch: New Tools for Enabling Collaborative Web Search
Today, Web search is a solitary experience. All major Web browsers and search engine sites are designed to support a single user, working alone. However, collaboration on information-seeking tasks is actually quite commonplace! For example, students work together to complete homework assignments, friends seek information about entertainment opportunities, family members jointly plan vacation travel, and colleagues jointly conduct research for their projects. In this talk I'll discuss the findings of our surveys and interviews that reveal the challenges users face when attempting to collaborate on Web search using status quo technologies. Then, I will present two systems, SearchTogether and CoSearch, that address these challenges.

Jaime Teevan - The Web Changes Everything: How Dynamic Content Affects the Way People Find Online
When you visit a colleague’s Web page, do the new papers she’s posted jump out at you? When you return to your favorite Web news site, is it easy to find the front page article you saw yesterday? The Web is a dynamic, ever-changing collection of information, and the changes can affect, drive, and interfere with people’s information seeking activities. This talk will explore how and why people revisit Web content that has changed, and illustrate how understanding the association between change and revisitation might improve browser, crawler, and search engine design.

Ruth Rosenholtz - Do predictions of visual perception aid design?
Understanding and exploiting the abilities of the human visual system is an important part of the design of usable user interfaces and information visualizations. Designers traditionally learn qualitative rules-of-thumb for how to enable quick, easy and veridical perception of their design. More recently, work in human and computer vision, including in our lab, has produced more quantitative models of human perception. These models often take as input arbitrary, complex images of a design. We ask whether such models aid the design process. Through a series of interactions with designers and design teams, we find that the models can help, but in somewhat unexpected ways. Based on this study, I will suggest general design principles for perceptual tools.

Takeo Igarashi - Interactive "Smart" Computers
Current user interfaces are not very "smart" in that computers dumbly do what the user explicitly commands it to do via buttons or menus. As the computers become more capable and applications become complicated, more "smart" user interfaces are desired. We are exploring possible "smart" user interfaces in the domain of pen-based computing and interactive 3D graphics. The idea is to allow the user to intuitively express his/her intention by combining sketching and direct manipulation, and have the computer take appropriate actions without explicit commands. This talk consists of many live demonstrations to illustrate the idea of interactive "smart" interfaces.

Joseph Lawrance - Information Foraging in Debugging
Is navigating source code like browsing the web? In this talk, Joseph Lawrance examines the relationship between information foraging theory and programmers' debugging behavior. His results demonstrate that information scent and spreading activation models can predict where programmers will need to navigate, based on the contents of bug reports and source code. These findings promise to inform the design of tools to save programmers' time while tracking down bugs.

Belle Tseng - Universal Web Search Relevance
With the fast penetration of the Web throughout the world, the number of search users has increased dramatically from many geographic locations. Search engines are now facing the problem of providing search results to many countries. Machine Learned Ranking (MLR) approach has shown successes in web search. With the increasing demand to develop effective ranking functions for many countries (domains), we face a big bottleneck of insufficient training data to build a learned ranker for each domain. In my talk, I will present two approaches to resolve this problem. The first is a tree-based adaptation that takes a ranking function from one domain and tunes it with a small amount of training data from the target domain.

Krzysztof Gajos - Automatically Generating Personalized User Interfaces
User Interfaces delivered with today's software are usually created in a one-size-fits-all manner, making implicit assumptions about the needs, abilities, and preferences of the "average user" and about the characteristics of the "average device." I argue that personalized user interfaces, which are adapted to a person’s devices, tasks, preferences, and abilities, can improve user satisfaction and performance. In this talk, I focus on the portion of my research, which demonstrates how this approach benefits people with motor impairments.