Blog Category: CSCW

FXPAL at Mobile HCI 2016

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Early next week, Ville Mäkelä and Jennifer Marlow will present our work at Mobile HCI on tools we developed at FXPAL to support distributed workers. The paper, “Bringing mobile into meetings: Enhancing distributed meeting participation on smartwatches and mobile phones”, presents the design, development, and evaluation of two applications, MixMeetWear and MeetingMate, that aim to help users in non-standard contexts participate in meetings.

The videos below show the basic functionality of the two systems. If you are in Florence for Mobile HCI, please stop by their presentation on Thursday, September 8, in the 2:00-3:30 session (in Sala Verde) to get the full story.

Ciao!

MixMeet: Live searching and browsing

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Knowledge work is changing fast. Recent trends in increased teleconferencing bandwidth, the ubiquitous integration of “pads and tabs” into workaday life, and new expectations of workplace flexibility have precipitated an explosion of applications designed to help people collaborate from different places, times, and situations.

Over the last several months the MixMeet team observed and interviewed members of many different work teams in small-to-medium sized businesses that rely on remote collaboration technologies. In work we will present at ACM CSCW 2016, we found that despite the widespread adoption of frameworks designed to integrate information from a medley of devices and apps (such as Slack), employees utilize a surprisingly diverse but unintegrated set of tools to collaborate and get work done. People will hold meetings in one app while relying on another to share documents, or share some content live during a meeting while using other tools to put together multimedia documents to share later. In our CSCW paper, we highlight many reasons for this increasing diversification of work practice. But one issue that stands out is that videoconferencing tools tend not to support archiving and retrieving disparate information. Furthermore, tools that do offer archiving do not provide mechanisms for highlighting and finding the most important information.

In work we will present later this fall at ACM MM 2015 and ACM DocEng 2015, we describe new MixMeet features that address some of these concerns so that users can browse and search the contents of live meetings to retrieve rapidly previously shared content. These new features take advantage of MixMeet’s live processing pipeline to determine actions users take inside live document streams. In particular, the system monitors text and cursor motion in order to detect text edits, selections, and mouse gestures. MixMeet applies these extra signals to user searches to improve the quality of retrieved results and allow users to quickly filter a large archive of recorded meeting data to find relevant information.

In our ACM MM paper (and toward the end of the above video) we also describe how MixMeet supports table-top videoconferencing devices, such as Kubi. In current work, we are developing multiple tools to extend our support to other devices and meeting situations. Publications describing these new efforts are in the pipeline: stay tuned.

Looking for volunteers for collaborative search study

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We are about to deploy an experimental system for searching through CiteSeer data. The system, Querium, is designed to support collaborative, session-based search. This means that it will keep track of your searches, help you make sense of what you’ve already seen, and help you to collaborate with your colleagues. The short video shown below (recorded on a slightly older version of the system) will give you a hint about what it’s like to use Querium.

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MyUnity, explained

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Bill van Melle, Thea Turner, and Eleanor Rieffel contributed to this post

FXPAL’s work on the MyUnity Awareness Platform has received considerable attention from the popular press and the Internet blogosphere in recent weeks, following a nice write-up in MIT’s Technology Review. That article, despite its misleading headline, correctly relays the core motivation for the work: to improve communication among workers in an increasingly fragmented workplace. However, some writers who picked up on that article focused instead on the sensational aspects of having technology monitor people’s behaviors and activities while they are working. They incorrectly described some of the platform’s technical details, overstated what the platform does and what it is able to do with the data it collects, and failed to mention the numerous options we offer users to control their privacy. We thought we should clear up some of these misconceptions and clarify the technical details.

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The Map Trap

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Are maps better than text for presenting information on mobile devices? That was the question explored by Karen Church, Joachim Neumann, Mauro Cherubini and Nuria Oliver in a paper (about to be) presented at the WWW 2010 conference, they present evidence that in some cases a textual display of information supports people’s information needs more effectively than a map-based one.

The two interfaces were evaluated over the course of a month of use “in the wild” (but in Ireland, not in in Spain). Each participant had access to both interfaces, and was shown how to use them to ask location-specific questions, which would be answered by others nearby. Availability of answers was communicated via SMS messages.

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Social work

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The slides for our CHI 2010 talk on workplace communication tool use are now available online. In the study, we explored people’s use of workplace communication tools, and found that new tools don’t replace previous ones, that multiple similar tools coexist, and that people’s communication patterns shift over time. Please see Thea’s earlier post for additional details on the research.

Overall, the talk was well-received, but I thought one question from the audience might warrant some additional comments. The question focused on our use of the word “workplace” in the paper (and in the title) while still discussing some aspects of communication that seemed not quite work-like.

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Parallels

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Aruna Balakrishnan, Tara Matthews and Tom Moran have a paper at CHI 2010 that examines how people used Lotus Activities to structure their interaction with digital artifacts and to help them collaborate. They observed 22 participants over the course of a couple of years to characterize their use of this tool.

Their findings bear interesting similarities to our CHI 2010 paper that described the use of various communication technologies in the workplace. Continue Reading

Exploring workplace communication

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Modern work is a collaborative enterprise. As such, it depends on communication among the collaborators to reach successful outcomes. An increasing number of communication tools are based on somewhat recent computer technologies, such as email, blogs, wikis, social networking, and Twitter.While there have been many studies of single communication tools in the workplace (IM, wikis, blogging, etc.) we believe that we are one of the first to take a broad view of the communication landscape since the introduction of these new technologies.

In our paper, to be presented at CHI 2010, we explored the communication ecology of a small business. We examined the work communication practices of our participants, including what methods people used to communicate and why, how they viewed the various methods and how they adopted them.

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Communicating about Collaboration

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What does it mean to collaborate while searching?

There are many different ways to characterize collaborative information seeking, many dimensions on which collaborative search systems can be categorized.

For the past few years Jeremy Pickens and I have been thinking that our model of collaborative exploratory search needs some further explication. Or maybe we’re just trying to understand it better ourselves. We have found that to explain what our model is, we have to simultaneously explain what our model is not.  This has led to numerous discussions not only about the various dimensions of collaboration, but also about the relative importance among those dimensions for distinguishing between systems.

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CFP: Special Issue of IP&M on Collaborative Information Seeking

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Meredith Ringel Morris, Jeremy Pickens and I are editing a Special Issue of Information Processing & Management on Collaborative Information Seeking. Our goal is to bring together papers that describe explicit (intentional) collaboration during various aspects of online information seeking. In contract to recommendation or collaborative filtering work, we are looking for work that describes small groups of people working toward a common goal.

The deadline for submission is May 8, 2009.

More details on the call are available here.