Blog Archive: 2012

Ghosts of CHI Madness past

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Gonzalo Ramos and I are the video previews chairs for CHI 2013. Video previews are a new way of promoting and advertising CHI publications before, during, and after the conference.; they will replace the traditional live CHI Madness presentations.

We would like to put together a small set of short videos (approx 30 seconds long) that illustrate best practices in CHI madness presentations.  These videos will be made available to CHI 2013 authors as examples best practices. If you have a video or a timed slide deck that you would be willing to contribute, please let me know.  We will select a few videos, describe key aspects that we think make them appropriate for this purpose, and publish them along other instructions for the authors.

Thanks for your help!

HCIR 2012 papers published!

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One of the things we did slightly differently in this year’s HCIR Symposium was to introduce full-length, pier reviewed, top-tier conference-quality papers. We received a number of submissions, each of which was read and discussed by three reviewers. We then rejected some of papers, and sent several back for a rewrite-and-resubmit cycle. In the end, we accepted four papers, which have now been published in the ACM Digital Library.

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Mining the Video Past of Future Research: Is it worth a look?


Hi FXPAL blogosphere. Among the odds and ends I do at FXPAL is help people present their works with video. It also falls to me to archive the videos themselves. As I periodically move the video to new storage servers, I tend to look over “the old family album.” Our family is in the business of looking ahead at technology, so our album is pretty much all about that. Sometimes we hit, sometimes we miss. (One thing for sure about trying to make sense of the future is that the future’s judgement is pretty clear – once you get there.)

Among many other things, looking at family albums starts conversations. So here is the first installment in starting a blog conversation with these archive videos at the center. Where will it lead? Well, that’s what blogging is kind of good at, is it not?

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A good showing


I was pleasantly surprised to discover that of the 75 people attending HCIR 2012 last week, five were former FXPAL interns! In order of most recent internship, these were: Elena Agapie (Harvard), Abdi Diriye (then UCL, currently at CMU), Aditi Muralidharan (UC Berkeley), Chirag Shah (then UNC Chapel Hill, now Rutgers), and Jacek Gwizdka (then UofT, now UT). another former intern, Diane Kelly (then Rutgers, now UNC Chapel Hill) who was a reviewer, couldn’t make due to a  scheduling conflict with a workshop in Japan.

I am hoping to see these alumni back next year, and encourage students interested in HCIR to consider an internship at FXPAL in 2013.

HCIR 2012 keynote

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Last week we held the HCIR 2012 Symposium in Cambridge, Mass. This is the sixth in a series that we have organized. We expanded the format of this year’s meeting to a day and a half, and in addition to the posters, search challenge reports, and short talks, we introduced full papers reviewed to first-tier conference standards. I will write more about these later, and for details on other events at the Symposium, I refer you to the excellent blog post by one of the other co-orgranizers, Daniel Tunkelang.

In this post, I wanted to record my impressions of the keynote talk by Marti Hearst from UC Berkeley.

Opening slide from Marti Hearst's keynote address


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Open sourcing DisplayCast


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


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

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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

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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


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.