Archive for the ‘Research’ Category

Open sourcing DisplayCast

Friday, August 31st, 2012 by

Open source plays an important role in a research laboratory like FXPAL. It allows our researchers to focus their energy on their own innovations and build on the efforts of the community. Open source projects thrive when many openly contribute their work for the common good. However, FXPAL has a business imperative to protect its innovations. We believe that we have found the balance between contributing back to the open source community and protecting our innovations.

Thus we are happy to announce that we have open sourced DisplayCast using a liberal NewBSD license. DisplayCast is a high performance screen sharing system designed for Intranets. It supports real time multiuser screen sharing across Windows 7, Mac OS X (10.6+) and iOS devices. The technical details of our screen capture and compression algorithms will be presented at the upcoming ACM Multimedia 2012 conference. The source code is hosted at GitHub. We provide two repositories: an Objective C based screen capture, playback and archive component that targets the Apple Mac OS X and iOS platforms, and an .NET/C# based screen capture and real time playback component that targets Windows 7.

We hope others find DisplayCast useful and that they will release their own innovations back to the open source community. FXPAL will continue to open source relevant projects in the future.

Invited talk at CATCH

Sunday, June 24th, 2012 by

Thanks to Frank Nack and Marc Bron, last week I had the opportunity to give a talk in The Netherlands at a NWO CATCH event organized by BRIDGE. NWO is the Dutch national research organization; BRIDGE is a project that explores access to television archives; and CATCH stands for Continuous Access To Cultural Heritage, which is something like an umbrella organization. The meeting was held at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum, a rather interesting building.

Interior of the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum

Although it was a long way to go for a one-day event, I am grateful to Frank and Marc for the invitation, for their efforts as hosts, and for all the great discussion during the talk, in the breaks between sessions, and, of course, over beers in the evening. It’s great to be able to make such connections; hopefully more collaboration will follow.

For those interested, here are the slides of my presentation, which expands a bit on my earlier blog post about using the history of interaction to improve exploratory search.

History matters

Monday, May 14th, 2012 by

Exploratory search is an uncertain endeavor. Quite often, people don’t know exactly how to express their information need, and that need may evolve over time as information is discovered and understood. This is not news.

When people search for information, they often run multiple queries to get at different aspects of the information need, to gain a better understanding of the collection, or to incorporate newly-found information into their searches. This too is not news.

The multiple queries that people run may well retrieve some of the same documents. In some cases, there may be little or no overlap between query results; at other times, the overlap may be considerable. Yet most search engines treat each query as an independent event, and leave it to the searcher to make sense of the results. This, to me, is an opportunity.

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CFP: HCIR 2012 Symposium

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012 by

We are happy to announce that the 2012 Human-Computer Information Retrieval Symposium (HCIR 2012) will be held in Cambridge, Massachusetts October 4 – 5, 2012. The HCIR series of workshops has provided a venue for discussion of ongoing research on a range of topics related to interactive information retrieval, including interaction techniques, evaluation, models and algorithms for information retrieval, visual design, user modeling, etc. The focus of these meetings has been to bring together people from industry and academia for short presentations and in-depth discussion. Attendance has grown steadily since the first meeting, and as a result this year we have decided to modify the structure of the meeting to accommodate the increasing demand for participation.

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HCIR intern, 2012 edition

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 by

Update: This intern slot has been filled.

It’s intern season again! I am looking for a PhD student well-versed in persuasive/affective computing/captology literature to participate in a research project related to improving the quality of interaction in information seeking environments. The goal of the project is to explore how to increase people’s engagement with systems while performing exploratory search. We would like to improve our current system to make it more usable and to explore some novel interaction techniques.

Applicants should be familiar with basic tactics of designing affective and engaging interfaces in a web-based environment. The internship will last three months, and will be structured to produce and evaluate research systems. As a further incentive, we expect to publish the results of this work at CHI 2013, which will be held in Paris. For more information on the intern process, please see the FXPAL web site, or contact me directly. I would like to fill this internship slot as soon as possible.

Tracking

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 by

Imagine the (legitimate) outcry if a local municipality, a State government, or the Federal government in the US deployed an infrastructure that would systematically identify and track people as they went about their daily lives, without a viable option to opt out. While the US has laws that govern when and how data about individuals could be used, the mere availability of such data would lead to temptations that would be irresistible in practice, yet not necessary for the functioning of this society.

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Collaborative search on the rise?

Monday, December 5th, 2011 by

I am seeing an interesting not-quite-yet-a-trend on the emergence of collaborative search tools. I am not talking about research tools such as SearchTogether or Coagmento, but of real companies started for the purpose of putting out a search tool that supports explicit collaboration. The two recent entries in this category of which I am aware are SearchTeam and Searcheeze. While they share some similarities, they are actually quite different tools.

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A quick study of Scholar-ly Citation

Friday, December 2nd, 2011 by

Google recently unveiled Citations, its extension to Google Scholar that helps people to organize the papers and patents they wrote and to keep track of citations to them. You can edit metadata that wasn’t parsed correctly, merge or split references, connect to co-authors’ citation pages, etc. Cool stuff. When it comes to using this tool for information seeking, however, we’re back to that ol’ Google command line. Sigh.

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Recall vs. Precision

Monday, November 14th, 2011 by

Stephen Robertson’s talk at the CIKM 2011 Industry event caused me to think about recall and precision again. Over the last decade precision-oriented searches have become synonymous with web searches, while recall has been relegated to narrow verticals. But is precision@5 or NCDG@1 really the right way to measure the effectiveness of interactive search? If you’re doing a known-item search, looking up a common factoid, etc., then perhaps it is. But for most searches, even ones that might be classified as precision-oriented ones, the searcher might wind up with several attempts to get at the answer. Dan Russell’s a Google a day lists exactly those kinds of challenges: find a fact that’s hard to find.

So how should we think about evaluating the kinds of searches that take more than one query, ones we might term session-based searches?

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HCIR 2011 keynote

Thursday, November 10th, 2011 by

HCIR 2011 took place almost three weeks ago, but I am just getting caught up after a week at CIKM 2011 and an actual almost-no-internet-access vacation. I wanted to start off my reflections on HCIR with a summary of Gary Marchionini‘s keynote, titled “HCIR: Now the Tricky Part.” Gary coined the term “HCIR” and has been a persuasive advocate of the concepts represented by the term. The talk used three case studies of HCIR projects as a lens to focus the audience’s attention on one of the main challenges of HCIR: how to evaluate the systems we build.

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