Caught at CHI 2009
Caught at CHI 2009
I saw an interesting bit of technology at CHI 2009 this year. Yevgeniy Medynskiy, Mira Dontcheva, and Steven Drucker published a paper called “Exploring Websites through Contextual Facets” where they tried to solve the problem of iterative query formulation in online faceted search. They observed that search interfaces that allowed the user to specify multiple criteria to find desired objects often removed the search interface when the user selected item details. In addition, they observed vocabulary mismatch for aspects in the search interface vs. the details view. Finally, people often landed on item pages through external search engines, and couldn’t easily get to an in-site search interface with their search context preserved.
A paper presented at CHI 2009 described strategies and processes used by intelligence analysts. Among other aspects, the paper discusses collaboration among analysts, quoting one of their participants:
What I will not trust and put into my analysis is somebody else’s analysis. I need to know the source of the information and build on that so that I can put my level of trust in it and then it’s my name at stake when I provide an answer… I won’t trust their analysis until I look at the source of the information, and it will be, “Do I agree with the conclusions that they came to based on the facts and the evidence?”
The area of collaborative search has experienced significant growth over the past couple of years in the number of research groups interested in the topic, and in the number of research papers being published in proceedings of respected conferences.
Interestingly, there is also a rash of “best paper” awards for this work. In chronological order of publication, the following papers related to collaborative search have received “best paper” designations.
Congratulations to all the authors, and please let me know if I forgot to list your paper!
At CHI 2009 this year, Sharoda Paul presented a paper she co-wrote with Merrie Morris that explores how sensemaking can be managed in a collaborative search environment. They created CoSense, an interface that augments SearchTogether with several tools that facilitate awareness and information sharing among collaborators. Tools include interactive query timelines, statistics on individual queries and term use, chat history, and a workspace for annotating search results.
There was a good crop of papers at CHI 2009 this year, and I didn’t get to see them all. I did see a few that were particularly interesting, including “Learning How: The Search for Craft Knowledge on the Internet” by Torrey, Churchill, and McDonald. The paper describes and analyzes search activities by people involved in various crafts. This work is interesting to me because in a way it very clearly separates exploratory search from other kinds of online searching.
The prolonged silence on this blog was due to my presence at CHI 2009, with its impoverished internet connectivity. It was a good conference none the less, one of the highlights of which was the Video Showcase program. I am sure other videos from this program will soon appear on YouTube, but for now, here’s the first one they showed:
It won First Place in its category (Best use of Jonathan Grudin’s head, or some such), and is truly funny.
Disclaimer: I didn’t have anything to do with the creation of this video, although I had been involved in building some digital ink interfaces in the 90s. The video was created by the following people:
Michael Bernstein, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Paul André, University of Southampton
Kurt Luther, Georgia Institute of Technology
Erin Treacy Solovey, Tufts University
Erika Poole, Georgia Institute of Technology
Sharoda A. Paul, Pennsylvania State University
Shaun K. Kane, University of Washington
Jonathan Grudin, Microsoft Research
Our paper on conference room automation got accepted to CHI 2009. We describe the DICE system and report on about a year’s worth of use during its deployment at FXPAL. The system uses a task-based user interface to manage meetings in technologically-enhanced conference rooms. Unlike AMX or Crestron systems, it integrates with the file system and supports multiple speakers. Each speaker can specify how the room should be configured independently, and the system manages the transitions between speakers.