Blog Archive: 2010

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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Built to tweet

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The use of Twitter at conferences seems to be growing, and I think we are beginning to see some limitations of the current tool suite with respect to making use of tweets at a conference in real time. At CHI 2010 I was not able to participate much in live-tweeting because I did not want to carry my heavy Thinkpad T61 around all day, and my iPhone wasn’t up to the task. While the iPhone was adequate for checking e-mail and using the CHI 2010 schedule app, the battery would run down by the end of the day of intermittent use. Furthermore, the screen wasn’t large enough to take notes, type tweets in a timely manner, and to keep up with the stream of tweets from other attendees. In fact, in some cases it seemed that people who were following the conference remotely had a better grasp of the breadth of activity in the sessions than I did at the conference.
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ReBoard presentation at CHI 2010

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Stacy Branham who was an intern with us last summer gave an excellent talk at CHI 2010 about the study that she ran of how people use ReBoard. I’ve written about the study before, and the papers are available here and here. But the slides are interesting in their own right, and tell a complementary story.

First, there are the CHI Madness slides:

Let the slides auto-advance for the best effect.

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Paper UI reseach at FXPAL

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Paper still plays an important role in many tasks even in this age of computers. This phenomenon can be attributed to paper’s unique advantages in display quality, spatial arrangement flexibility, instant accessibility and robustness, which the existing computers can hardly beat. However, paper lacks computational capability and does not render dynamic information. In contrast, cell phones are becoming powerful in computation and communication, providing a convenient access to dynamic information and digital services. Nevertheless, cell phones are constrained by their limited screen size, relatively lower display quality and cumbersome input methods. Combining the merits of paper and cell phones for rich GUI-like interactions on paper has become an active research area.

Here at FXPAL, the Paper UI group currently focuses on cell phone-based interfaces and their supporting techniques to link paper documents to digital information and enable rich digital interactions on physical paper through content-based image recognition algorithms. We started  research in this area several years ago (see our project page for more details), and our recent on-going projects include EMM and PACER.

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Reviewer Operating Characteristic

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David Karger made an interesting proposal on the Haystack blog about the efficiency of CHI reviewing. Using an ROC analysis of reviewer scores for CHI 2010, he found that when there is consensus between the first two reviews that a paper in question scores below 2 of 5, that there is no need to solicit a third review for it.  While this method would have caused the rejection of 6 of about 300 papers that weren’t actually rejected, it would save almost 500 reviews.

The question is, is this tradeoff worth it?

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Search sessions

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The information seeking community seems to be experiencing a renewed interest in session-based approaches to information seeking after years of focusing on single-query interaction. Yesterday at CHI2010, Anne Aula, Rehan M. Khan, and Zhiwei Guan reported on a study of searchers’ behavior. Rather than looking at single-query performance, they analyzed searchers’ query reformulation tactics to characterize difficult vs. easy search tasks. They found a variety of indicators that correlate with users’ difficulties in articulating efficient queries. This work is important as it hints at the possibility that web search engines can diagnose user behavior and alter the interaction with users to facilitate their search process.

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Microblogging workshop talk

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Yesterday Miles Efron and I presented our work on Twitter search at the CHI 2010 microblogging workshop.We distinguished between macro- and micro-level research on  Twitter, and then focused on Twitter search from the end-user’s perspective. We talked about the role that test collections should play in evaluation of search interfaces. The slides are shown below.

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Exploratory search session at CHI 2010

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I will be chairing the session on exploratory search at CHI 2010. The session, which features a best paper award winner and a best paper nominee, will take place Monday morning after the opening plenary session. The session consists of three papers:

Reactive Information Foraging for Evolving Goals
by Joseph Lawrance, Margaret Burnett, Rachel Bellamy, Christopher Bogart, and Calvin Swart

[Best paper] How does search behavior change as search becomes more difficult?
Anne Aula, Rehan M. Khan, and Zhiwei Guan

[Best paper nominee] Effects of Popularity and Quality on the Usage of Query Suggestions during Information Search
Diane Kelly, Amber Cushing, Maureen Dostert, Xi Niu, and Karl Gyllstrom

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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

Tufte vs. Holmes

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The militant wing of the Visualization Brigades recently published its manifesto, shown on the right. The War on PowerPoint is escalating, and at this pace, threatens to overtake the War on Drugs in the near future. What are we to do? Is minimalism the most effective way to convey information, as Tufte preaches? Or is Tufte’s argument backed by nothing but his personal sensibilities, rather than hard evidence? An upcoming CHI 2010 paper (one of the CHI 2010 best paper award winners) argues that elaboration is not all bad (or perhaps that not all elaboration is bad).

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