HCI Seminar Series

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MIT CSAIL HCI Seminar Series
Monica Lam- How Mobile Disrupts Social As We Know It
Every computer revolution changes our lives dramatically; so will mobile devices. Mobile devices enable billions of people to capture, share, interact, and consume real-time personal media in new and creative ways. In addition, being devices owned by individuals, they can form an autonomous computing fabric that frees us from the domination of existing centralized proprietary social networking services. This talk presents an open social mobile (OSM) architecture that combines a novel and natural mobile social experience with a clean architecture that lets users choose different cloud backup services. In addition, OSM is an app platform that makes it easy to create privacy-honoring social apps.

Paul André- Self and Social Awareness: Designing for Communication and Collaboration
Face-to-face interaction affords graceful communication through social translucency--visibility, awareness, and accountability. Increasingly we interact through mediating artifacts that blur and attenuate these personal and social cues, e.g., broadcasting social media to an unclear audience with little feedback, or a knowledge production scenario such as document collaboration with unclear edits, reasoning, and provenance.

Aron Pilhofer- Goosing the Gray Lady: Data + journalism + graphics at The New York Times
The New York Times has earned a reputation for being one of the true innovators in data journalism and data visualization. That didn't happen by accident: Unlike so many news organizations, The Times has invested heavily in digital, particularly in the newsroom. I'll talk about how we got where we are today, show examples of some of the best work we have done (and maybe some of the projects that didn't go so well), and talk about where I think The Times -- and the industry -- is heading.

Eric Gilbert- Designing social computing systems around relationships
Relationships are the heart of social media: they make it *social*. In this talk, I will present two social computing systems that place relationships and networks (i.e., multiple relationships) at the center of their design. First, I will present our work on modeling tie strength (i.e., how strong a relationship is), and how it can act as a tool for both design and analysis. Specifically, I'll present We Meddle, a Twitter app that builds categories of friends by inferring tie strength. Next, I will present a second Twitter app called Link Different that is inspired by the structure of a single social network triad. Link Different lets its users know how many of their followers already a saw link via someone else they follow. Hundreds of thousands of people used these two systems.

Mark Guzdial- What We Know About Teaching Computer Science: On-Line or In-Classroom (Answer: Not all that much)
We have known for over 30 years that learning to program is surprisingly hard. A series of international studies have shown that measuring learning in programming is challenging, because the demonstrated performance is so small. In my group, we have been developing approaches to improve learning about computing, by improving retention through relevance and by teaching in problem domain context. Our classes and studies have utilized computer-supported collaborative learning. We have learned how anchored collaboration can lead to longer on-topic discussions, but how perceptions of course culture can dramatically inhibit discussion. We have shown that well-designed on-line activities can lead to better learning at reduced cost (including time costs for the student and instructor).

Amy Ogan- Taking Educational Technology Worldwide: Challenging the Assumptions of Personalized Learning
The advent of widespread access to computing offers the promise to transform educational practices worldwide. At present, most massive open online courses (MOOCS) present practice and evaluation opportunities through static lists of multiple-choice questions. Future systems, however, will increasingly rely on sophisticated modeling of student knowledge to provide personalized instruction. Unfortunately, the few systems that currently employ such models tend to be developed for and evaluated in middle-class US schools – a very particular cultural context. This assumption is a broad generalization, as the cultural makeup of the US, and indeed the world, is changing dramatically.

Jeff Bigham- Crowd Agents: Interactive Crowd-Powered Systems in the Real World
Over the past few years, I have been developing and deploying interactive crowd-powered systems. For instance, VizWiz has the crowd answer visual questions for blind people in less than a minute, Legion allows outsourcing of desktop tasks to the crowd, and Scribe allows the crowd to caption audio in real-time. Overall, thousands of people have engaged with these systems, providing an interesting look at how end users interact with crowd work in their everyday lives. Collectively, these systems illustrate a new approach to human computation in which the diverse and changing crowd is provided the computational support necessary to act as a single, high-quality actor.

Chris Harrison- Interacting with Small Devices in Big Ways
Despite their small size, mobile devices are able to perform tasks of creation, information and communication with unprecedented ease. However, diminutive screens and buttons mar the user experience, and otherwise prevent us from realizing the full potential of computing on the go. For example, there is large disparity between multitouch input and the capabilities of our hands and fingers. In addition to translating to an X/Y position, our fingers can vary their angle of attack, bend, twist, and apply different pressure and shear forces (at least six additional analog dimensions). Fingers also have many “modes” – they do not just poke, as contemporary touchscreen interaction would suggest, but also scratch, flick, knock, rub, and grasp, to name a few.

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.