Blog Archive: 2009

The mystery of the Nook

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December 10. Could not open box. Tried several times.

December 11. Co-worker took it to get charged. When she brought it back, Walt Whitman’s picture replaced the lady who was displayed earlier.

December 12. Could not turn on device. Accidentally discovered cable and plug in the packaging. Charged overnight through my laptop.

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On the future on Social Media

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PARC hosted an NSF-funded workshop devoted to Technology Mediated Social Participation. This was an invitation-only workshop, coupled with a public panel discussion at the PARC Forum yesterday.

All around us, technology-mediated social participation has been harnessed for remarkable social benefits. New thrusts in basic research and engineering are likely to move beyond existing socio-technical media to produce new participatory systems spanning people, computation, communication and action. These developments could produce profound transformations in health care, community safety, disaster response, life-long learning, business innovation, energy sustainability, environmental protection, and other spheres of important national priorities.

The goal of the workshop is to foster a discussion of these topics, including:

Theoretical integration; Shareable Infrastructure, ethics, and protections; Social capital, social intelligence, and effective action; Design to motivate participation; Graduate Training; and – Unique challenges for government use of social media.

The panel consisted of Ben Shneiderman (U. Maryland), Amy Bruckman (Georgia Tech), Bernardo Huberman (HP Labs), and  Cameron Marlow (Facebook). Panelists argued that “it is our responsibility to shape the conversations on social media” (Ben), that “We want to build technology to enable communities to police themselves” (Cameron), and “Different spaces need different rules” (Amy).

Meanwhile, in Old Europe…

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Public access to federally-funded research results?

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The topic of implications of federal funding for research was brought up again recently in this Federal Register notice. The Office of Science and Technology Policy wants to receive public comment on a range of issues related to access to academic publications that were funded by Federal grants. The notice mentions the NIH model

One potential model, implemented by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) pursuant to Division G, Title II, Section 218 of Pub. L. 110-161 ( requires that all investigators funded by the NIH submit an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscript upon acceptance for publication no later than 12 months after the official date of publication.

and seeks comments on a range of issues regarding how to structure this broader policy, how to make articles available, how to ensure compliance, etc. This notice seems broader than the NSF-specific discussion I wrote about earlier because it appears to apply to all Federal agencies that fund open research.

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Extremely Unofficial CHI 2010 review survey

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Yesterday, Lennart Nacke expressed the desire to act on the suggestion in a blog post I wrote to review the reviewers. So why not? I would like to see if we can collect some data to inform the debate about obtaining quality reviews for conferences such as CHI. The goal is to see if the availability of authors’ ratings on reviews of papers can be used to improve the reviewer selection process and to give direct feedback to reviewers as well.

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Hypertext 2010

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I’ve attended many Hypertext conferences in the past, and have spent a number of years at UofT, so it’s a double pleasure to point out that the Hypertext 2010 conference will be held at the University of Toronto June 13-16. The conference will cover topics including social computing, adaptive hypermedia, and hypertext in education and communication. The deadline for submission in January 18, 2010. For more info, please see the CFP.

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Comments on the CHI reviewing process

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In the aftermath of the CHI 2010 PC meeting, we had an interesting discussion of issues related to reviewing and managing the CHI conference submission process. Several interesting approaches to improving the outcomes were discussed, including reinstating mentoring, rating reviews, adding a desk-reject option for some papers, etc. The overall goal is to improve the quality of submissions and the quality of reviews. Simplifying the overall process was also brought up several times.

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mobile. very mobile.


Developers have built applications for mobile phones to support a wide swath of activities, but I would argue that there is no better use for a mobile phone than for those tasks that are fundamentally mobile. And what is more mobile than running? While there have been a variety of research projects (such as UbiFit) designed to encourage exercise, I am more interested here in those applications that support folks who’ve already bought in. For us, smart phones that make it easy to track pace, distance, and even elevation (such as RunKeeper, SportsTracker, and MotionXGPS) have been killer apps. Research projects (such as TripleBeat) are also exploring how to increase competition using past personal results as well as results from other users. Other work has explored using shared audio spaces to allow runners to compete over distances.

How else might we use mobile technologies to improve the running experience? Continue Reading

On the shoulders of giants

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I have used the phrases “publish -> filter” and “filter -> publish” in a number of recent blog posts related to scientific publishing, but had been unable to find proper attribution to them with a casual search. While reading Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s draft of Planned Obsolescence, I came across the phrase “filter-then-publish” which she attributed to Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody.” I am adding that book to the top of my reading list right now.

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Marti Hearst: Google Tech Talk on Search User Interfaces


Marti Hearst recently gave a talk at Google related to the themes in her book. She does a good job of explaining the challenges and opportunities related to interactive information seeking, including design, evaluation, query reformulation, integrating navigation and search, information visualization as it relates to search, and future trends. While most of this is music to the ears of HCIR types, her discussion of collaborative search (around minute 46) is particularly “relevant:” Marti spends a good deal of time on our paper on collaborative search, describing the various models of collaboration and showing some figures from our paper. The talk is on YouTube, the paper is on the web. Questions and comments are very welcome.

ps: Marti’s mention of Diane “Green” in minute 24 actually refers to Diane Kelly, whose well-received paper on query suggestion was presented at SIGIR 2009.

Can open source improve open reviewing?

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Naboj is an overlay on that allows people to comment on articles, to rate articles, and (unlike to rate the reviews as well. Unfortunately, the rather minimal interface does not make it easy to organize the display by highly-rated reviewers or by thoroughly-reviewed papers (i.e., papers with reviews that others found useful), or restrict search to particular domains.

These limitations are not inherent in the design of the review process or the data collected on the site, but rather are probably indicative of an under-resourced effort. I wonder if an open-source approach to the design of these kinds of tools would result in a more usable (and thus more useful) way of managing an open peer review process. Is open source the way to open reviewing? I would certainly consider contributing to it.