Thursday, May 31, 2012

Find: textbooks, ereaders, and technology in class

Class is less about receiving information, more about connections and application. 

Future U: The stubborn persistence of textbooks

Future U is a multipart series on the university of the 21st century. We will be investigating the possible future of the textbook, the technological development of libraries, how tech may change the role of the professor, and the future role of technology in museums, research parks, and university-allied institutions of all kinds.

Future U

  • Future U: Classroom tech doesn't mean handing out tablets
  • Textbooks are a thing of the past, says the common wisdom. Well, the common wisdom of the Technorati maybe. The problem with that thinking is that the number one publisher in the world is Pearson, a textbook publisher, who brought in $7.75 billion in 2009.

    Pearson, as Tim Carmody noted in a January Wired article, owns 50 percent of the Financial Times, as well as the number two trade house: Penguin. The second largest textbook publisher, McGraw-Hill, owns Standard and Poor’s. To say textbooks are big business is like saying bullets are ouchie.

    So writing the obituary for textbooks would be putting the cart before the horse. But pretending like they are not changing their shape, if not their nature, is to proclaim, from one's buggy, that automobiles are a passing fad.

Find: On the future of university libraries -- less finding, more learning

NCSU libraries are way ahead of this curve.

Future U: Library 3.0 has more resources, greater challenges

Libraries are changing, despite their facades. And they're changing to high-tech service companies with embedded librarians, according to some library professionals. Of course, that assumes they aren't defunded out of existence.

Future U

  • Future U: The stubborn persistence of textbooks

  • Future U: Classroom tech doesn't mean handing out tablets
  • For ladies and gentlemen of a certain age, the library is changing too fast. For kids, it's not changing fast enough. University students are caught in the middle. Their library experience must be like surfing: riding the edge of a moving wave, never quite cresting, never quite crashing. Such a state has to be thrilling, but ultimately exhausting.

    One popular image of the library of the future comes from the cartoon Futurama. The temporally misplaced character from our own time, Fry, enters Mars University’s Wong Library with his friends. It contains the largest collection of literature in the universe. Zoom in on two CDs, one labeled “Fiction” and the other “Non-fiction.”

    In many ways, the library of today looks much the same as the library of yesteryear. The card catalogs may be consigned to a basement storage area and the tables where they used to stand are studded with computers. But otherwise there are carrels and stacks, stairs and information desk, patrons and librarians.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Spotted: Shape-changing interfaces: a review -- sounds like a nice update of our nearly 10 year old survey

Shape-changing interfaces: a review of the design space and open research questions

Majken K. Rasmussen, Esben W. Pedersen, Marianne G. Petersen, Kasper Hornbæk

Shape change is increasingly used in physical user interfaces, both as input and output. Yet, the progress made and the key research questions for shape-changing interfaces are rarely analyzed systematically. We review a sample of existing work on shape-changing interfaces to address these shortcomings. We identify eight types of shape that are transformed in various ways to serve both functional and hedonic design purposes. Interaction with shape-changing interfaces is simple and rarely merges input and output.

Spotted: changing health behavior -- the chocolate machine

A transformational product to improve self-control strength: the chocolate machine

Flavius Kehr, Marc Hassenzahl, Matthias Laschke, Sarah Diefenbach

Lack of self-control is at the heart of many undesirable behaviors, such as overeating, overspending, and even overworking. While the field of Persuasive Technologies searches for ways to change attitudes and behaviors, it often neglects the science of self-control. We present the Chocolate Machine, an exploratory interactive product to train self-control strength based upon Ego Depletion theory. A field study showed the machine to increase perceived self-control over time, while providing a sustained positive experience. This makes the machine transformational, aiming at facilitating behaviors people find worthwhile, but hard to implement.

Spotted: on feedback for long term sustainability change -- The dubuque water portal

The dubuque water portal: evaluation of the uptake, use and impact of residential water consumption feedback

Thomas Erickson, Mark Podlaseck, Sambit Sahu, Jing D. Dai, Tian Chao, Milind Naphade

The Dubuque Water Portal is a system aimed at supporting voluntary reductions of water consumption that is intended to be deployed city-wide. It provides each household with fine-grained, near real time feedback on their water consumption, as well as using techniques like social comparison, weekly games, and news and chat to encourage water conservation. This study used logs, a survey and interviews to evaluate a 15-week pilot with 303 households. It describes the Portal's design, and discusses its adoption, use and impacts. The system resulted in a 6.6% decrease in water consumption, and the paper employs qualitative methods to look at the ways in which the Portal was (or wasn't) effective in supporting its users and enabling them to reduce their consumption.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Spotted: Ad (beta) blockers: a usability evaluation of tools to limit online behavioral advertising

Ad blockers make you feel safe, but aren't really working. 

Why Johnny can't opt out: a usability evaluation of tools to limit online behavioral advertising

Pedro Leon, Blase Ur, Richard Shay, Yang Wang, Rebecca Balebako, Lorrie Cranor

We present results of a 45-participant laboratory study investigating the usability of nine tools to limit online behavioral advertising (OBA). We interviewed participants about OBA and recorded their behavior and attitudes as they configured and used a privacy tool, such as a browser plugin that blocks requests to specific URLs, a tool that sets browser cookies indicating a user's preference to opt out of OBA, or the privacy settings built into a web browser. We found serious usability flaws in all tools we tested. Participants found many tools difficult to configure, and tools' default settings were often minimally protective. Ineffective communication, confusing interfaces, and a lack of feedback led many participants to conclude that a tool was blocking OBA when they had not properly configured it to do so.

Spotted: relating visuals to emotion --On saliency, affect and focused attention

On saliency, affect and focused attention

Lori McCay-Peet, Mounia Lalmas, Vidhya Navalpakkam

We study how the visual catchiness (saliency) of relevant information impacts user engagement metrics such as focused attention and emotion (affect). Participants completed tasks in one of two conditions, where the task-relevant information either appeared salient or non-salient. Our analysis provides insights into relationships between saliency, focused attention, and affect. Participants reported more distraction in the non-salient condition, and non-salient information was slower to find than salient. Lack-of-saliency led to a negative impact on affect, while saliency maintained positive affect, suggesting its helpfulness. Participants reported that it was easier to focus in the salient condition, although there was no significant improvement in the focused attention scale rating.

Spotted: the uncanny ad valley -- a study of the effectiveness and acceptability of rich-media personalized advertising

Too close for comfort: a study of the effectiveness and acceptability of rich-media personalized advertising

Miguel Malheiros, Charlene Jennett, Snehalee Patel, Sacha Brostoff, Martina Angela Sasse

Online display advertising is predicted to make $29.53 billion this year. Advertisers believe targeted and personalized ads to be more effective, but many users are concerned about their privacy. We conducted a study where 30 participants completed a simulated holiday booking task; each page showing ads with different degrees of personalization. Participants fixated twice as long when ads contained their photo. Participants reported being more likely to notice ads with their photo, holiday destination, and name, but also increasing levels of discomfort with increasing personalization. We conclude that greater personalization in ad content may achieve higher levels of attention, but that the most personalized ads are also the least acceptable.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Find: CornellNYC Tech, an education in creating startups, looks interesting

The Verge - All Posts
Cornell Roosevelt Island

Cornell University's new campus has a mandate to kickstart innovative technology projects and companies in New York City. It has a substantial endowment and a long-term home on city-owned land on Roosevelt Island, won after a long courtship and fierce competition with other top schools. It has a short-term home in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood, donated by Google just this week, for when its first students arrive this fall. Its founding dean, Dan Huttenlocher, is assembling the faculty who will teach those students. All it needs is someone who can help convert those rich resources into practical results.

On Wednesday, CornellNYC Tech named its Founding Entreprenurial Officer, ex-Twitter CTO Greg Pass. Pass knows a few things about...

Monday, May 21, 2012

Find: Don Norman on the need for generalists in engineering design education

This need for generality is a big part of why we have created our mobiles courses, and the mission of our lab and UX effort. 

Video: Don Norman speaks out about engineering design education

This is a short, 3 minute video, that captures the dilemma of modern education. Engineering education has become narrower and deeper. We teach and train specialties and specialists. Practical applications require tying together the knowledge of the many specialties. They require generalists, people who have broad, integrated understanding of the world. We need an educational system that rewards those who are broad and knowledgable as well as those who are deep and narrow, even if the broad knowledge comes at the expense of shallow depth. Being narrow is just as big a liability as being shallow. We need both kinds of people. Alas, the university hires, teaches, and trains only the deep and narrow.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Spotted: Viz interaction that isn't an afterthought -- Semantic interaction for visual text analytics

Finally a viz paper with interaction front and center.

Semantic interaction for visual text analytics

Alex Endert, Patrick Fiaux, Chris North

Visual analytics emphasizes sensemaking of large, complex datasets through interactively exploring visualizations generated by statistical models. For example, dimensionality reduction methods use various similarity metrics to visualize textual document collections in a spatial metaphor, where similarities between documents are approximately represented through their relative spatial distances to each other in a 2D layout. This metaphor is designed to mimic analysts' mental models of the document collection and support their analytic processes, such as clustering similar documents together. However, in current methods, users must interact with such visualizations using controls external to the visual metaphor, such as sliders, menus, or text fields, to directly control underlying model parameters that they do not understand and that do not relate to their analytic process occurring within the visual metaphor.

Spotted: How accurate are models of text corpora? -- Interpretation and trust: designing model-driven visualizations for text analysis

Interpretation and trust: designing model-driven visualizations for text analysis

Jason Chuang, Daniel Ramage, Christopher Manning, Jeffrey Heer

Statistical topic models can help analysts discover patterns in large text corpora by identifying recurring sets of words and enabling exploration by topical concepts. However, understanding and validating the output of these models can itself be a challenging analysis task. In this paper, we offer two design considerations - interpretation and trust - for designing visualizations based on data-driven models. Interpretation refers to the facility with which an analyst makes inferences about the data through the lens of a model abstraction. Trust refers to the actual and perceived accuracy of an analyst's inferences. These considerations derive from our experiences developing the Stanford Dissertation Browser, a tool for exploring over 9,000 Ph.D.

Spotted: On the experience of inheriting digital keepsakes

A part of experience we tend to ignore.

Technology heirlooms?: considerations for passing down and inheriting digital materials

William Odom, Richard Banks, David Kirk, Richard Harper, Siân Lindley, Abigail Sellen

Material artifacts are passed down as a way of sustaining relationships and family history. However, new issues are emerging as families are increasingly left with the digital remains of their loved ones. We designed three devices to investigate how digital materials might be passed down, lived with and inherited in the future. We conducted in-home interviews with 8 families using the devices to provoke discussion about how technology might support (or complicate) their existing practices. Sessions revealed families desired to treat their archives in ways not fully supported by technology as well as potential tensions that could emerge.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Spotted: charactering 3d mobile performance -- Performance and Power Consumption Characterization of 3D Mobile Games

Including some general optimization techniques. 

IEEE Computer
This paper describes a preliminary performance and power consumption characterization study on 3D mobile games. We choose Quake3 and XRace as the game benchmarks and study them on TI OMAP3430, Qualcomm Snapdragon S2, and NVIDIA Tegra 2 (three mainstream mobile System-on-Chip architectures) by selectively disabling different graphics pipeline stages in source code level. Our characterization results show that the geometry stage is the leading bottleneck and the game logic (application) takes a significant portion of power consumption.

Spotted: on gpu efficient path tracing -- Improving Data Locality for Efficient In-Core Path Tracing

CG Forum


In this paper, we investigate the efficiency of ray queries on the CPU in the context of path tracing, where ray distributions are mostly random. We show that existing schemes that exploit data locality to improve ray tracing efficiency fail to do so beyond the first diffuse bounce, and analyze the cause for this. We then present an alternative scheme inspired by the work of Pharr et al. in which we improve data locality by using a data-centric breadth-first approach. We show that our scheme improves on state-of-the-art performance for ray distributions in a path tracer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Spotted: Polyzoom -- an alternative to pan and zoom in 2d imagery

I wonder if these folks apply these ideas to mobiles?

Polyzoom: multiscale and multifocus exploration in 2d visual spaces

Waqas Javed, Sohaib Ghani, Niklas Elmqvist

The most common techniques for navigating in multiscale visual spaces are pan, zoom, and bird's eye views. However, these techniques are often tedious and cumbersome to use, especially when objects of interest are located far apart. We present the PolyZoom technique where users progressively build hierarchies of focus regions, stacked on each other such that each subsequent level shows a higher magnification. Correlation graphics show the relation between parent and child viewports in the hierarchy. To validate the new technique, we compare it to standard navigation techniques in two user studies, one on multiscale visual search and the other on multifocus interaction.

Spotted: CommandMaps -- an alternative to menus and toolbars

These sound kinda like icon arrays on mobiles, exploiting spatial memory. 

Improving command selection with CommandMaps

Joey Scarr, Andy Cockburn, Carl Gutwin, Andrea Bunt

Designers of GUI applications typically arrange commands in hierarchical structures, such as menus, due to screen space limitations. However, hierarchical organisations are known to slow down expert users. This paper proposes the use of spatial memory in combination with hierarchy flattening as a means of improving GUI performance. We demonstrate these concepts through the design of a command selection interface, called CommandMaps, and analyse its theoretical performance characteristics. We then describe two studies evaluating CommandMaps against menus and Microsoft's Ribbon interface for both novice and experienced users.

Spotted: Moving beyond 10 blue links -- the crowd begins adding structure to search results

Distributed sensemaking: improving sensemaking by leveraging the efforts of previous users

Kristie Fisher, Scott Counts, Aniket Kittur

We examine the possibility of distributed sensemaking: improving a user's sensemaking by leveraging previous users' work without those users directly collaborating or even knowing one another. We asked users to engage in sensemaking by organizing and annotating web search results into "knowledge maps," either with or without previous users' maps to work from. We also recorded gaze patterns as users examined others' knowledge maps. Our findings show the conditions under which distributed sensemaking can improve sensemaking quality; that a user's sensemaking process is readily apparent to a subsequent user via a knowledge map; and that the organization of content was more useful to subsequent users than the content itself, especially when those users had differing goals.

Spotted: Strategies for crowdsourcing social data analysis -- taming the Turk

Wesley Willett, Jeffrey Heer, Maneesh Agrawala

Web-based social data analysis tools that rely on public discussion to produce hypotheses or explanations of the patterns and trends in data, rarely yield high-quality results in practice. Crowdsourcing offers an alternative approach in which an analyst pays workers to generate such explanations. Yet, asking workers with varying skills, backgrounds and motivations to simply "Explain why a chart is interesting" can result in irrelevant, unclear or speculative explanations of variable quality. To address these problems, we contribute seven strategies for improving the quality and diversity of worker-generated explanations. Our experiments show that using (S1) feature-oriented prompts, providing (S2) good examples, and including (S3) reference gathering, (S4) chart reading, and (S5) annotation subtasks increases the quality of responses by 28% for US workers and 196% for non-US workers.

Spotted: Informal Information Gathering Techniques for Active Reading -- put them on my reader please

Ken always does great work. Looks like these techniques won't work well with e-ink though. 

The Past and Present Future

This is my latest project, which I will present tomorrow (May 9th) at the CHI 2012 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems.

I’ll have a longer post up about this project after I return from the conference, but for now enjoy the video. I also link to the PDF of our short paper below which has a nice discussion of the motivation and design rationale for this work.

Above all else, I hope this work makes clear that there is still tons of room for innovation in how we interact with the e-readers and tablet computers of the future– as well as in terms of how we consume and manipulate content to produce new creative works.

Informal Information Gathering Techniques for Active ReadingHinckley, K., Bi, X., Pahud, M., Buxton, B., Informal Information Gathering Techniques for Active Reading. 4pp Note. In Proc. CHI 2012  Conf. on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Austin, TX, May 5-10, 2012. [PDF] [video .WMV - not yet available]

[Watch Informal Information Gathering Techniques for Active Reading on YouTube]

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Find and thoughts: Peapod 'virtual grocery stores' -- a gimmick? Or an improved experience?

Peapod is a holdover from the dot com bubble. It delivers groceries ordered online to your door. With this experiment, is it showings that its customers want more than an online shopping experience. What could be missing? And will these virtual shelves provide it?

Why do people still prefer brick and mortar? Several reasons: 

Freshness: traditionally store goods are fresher. Not sure that's still true now. 

Directness: you can see and interact directly with what you buy. 

Prompting: as do online menus, shelves remind you of what you want. 

Society: the grocery is a kind of town square. We bump into folks we know and don't know. We meet our community. 

Immediacy: you get what you want now. 

Will these "virtual" displays bring some of this experience to Peapod? 

Certainly not freshness: this won't change the quality of the food. Directness may improve a bit with larger images, but I'm betting that they aren't sharp. I have a hard time believing that these relatively small posters (in comparison to real shelves) will remind people of much, though it may remind them simply to shop. Meeting an acquaintance while pausing in front of a poster is less likely than when lingering in a separate store outing. And immediacy won't improve: the food won't arrive sooner, and ordering could always happen on the go. 

What this really is then, is a cheap vending machine without the immediacy. It reminds people to buy, makes it easy to do so, but you won't see it for about an hour. The idea is clever, but in the end, I think it's just a good ad. 

Maybe Peapod should get into the vending machine business. 

But seriously, how could Peapod deliver more of the grocery experience? Maybe with social features? And how could grocery stores improve? Perhaps what is on the shelf at the moment should always be online for delivery or at least pickup?

The Verge - All Posts
peapod grocery smartphone

Online supermarket Peapod is bringing its foodstuffs to Chicago's "L" transit system, with a new ad campaign that allows commuters to do their grocery shopping from directly within the city's train stations. Last week, the company plastered Chicago's State and Lake Station Tunnel with a "virtual grocery store" ad — posters of grocery shelves stocked with popular household items and food products. People travelling through the station can scan an accompanying QR code to download the free PeapodMobile app, which will allow them to scan barcodes listed on the products displayed in the ad. With the app, iPhone and Android users can place orders, manage their shopping lists, and schedule deliveries as they wait for the next train.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

Find: Ray Tomlinson, inventor of email: 'I see email being used... the way I envisioned' Really? It needs help!

Not sure you could have envisioned this. 

The Verge - All Posts
ray 1020

In 1971, Ray Tomlinson was a recent MIT graduate hired to help build the earliest components of Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the precursor to the internet. Tinkering on his own, he decided to build a networked messaging program. Most computers at the time allowed users to message one another, but as so few computers were networked, there was little reason to send messages across computers. Tomlinson hacked together a solution, using the now-ubiquitous @ symbol to indicate networked email. Four decades later, email seems less an invention than an innate aspect of our digital environment. On the occasion of his induction into the Internet Hall of Fame, Tomlinson talked to us about the birth of email, the future of...

Friday, May 04, 2012

Spotted: stereoscopic games are more engaging

Jonas Schild, Joseph LaViola, Maic Masuch

Recent advances in digital game technology are making stereoscopic games more popular. Stereoscopic 3D graphics promise a better gaming experience but this potential has not yet been proven empirically. In this paper, we present a comprehensive study that evaluates player experience of three stereoscopic games in comparison with their monoscopic counterparts. We examined 60 participants, each playing one of the three games, using three self-reporting questionnaires and one psychophysiological instrument.

Spotted: email vacations improve productivity and reduce stress

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Job: Razorfish Technology Intern

Technology Intern West 2012.docx Download this file

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Spotted: phones with projectors -- Personal Projectors for Pervasive Computing

Looks like a nice survey. Picoprojectors will be a huge part of our mobile future. 

IEEE Pervasive Cmptg
Projectors are pervasive as infrastructure devices for large displays but are now also becoming available in small form factors that afford mobile personal use. This article surveys the interaction space of "projectors on the move" and reviews input and output concepts, underlying sensing challenges, and emerging applications.      

Spotted: How Disney uses augmented reality, and the tools it builds -- Projection-Based Augmented Reality in Disney Theme Parks

IEEE Computer
The term Projection-Based Augmented Reality denotes the use of projection technology to augment and enhance three-dimensional objects and spaces in the real world by projecting images onto their visible surfaces. Disney theme park designers use projection-based AR to create beautiful, dynamic, and interactive spaces that immerse guests in magical worlds. We present several examples of projection-based AR techniques used in Disney parks. We also describe the architecture and components of a Projector-Camera toolbox being developed by Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Research Zürich to support this work. We outline some of the challenges and research opportunities presented by integrating projection-based AR techniques into a theme park environment.

Spotted: on the future of the internet's engine -- Advertising on Public Display Networks

Just like broadcast tv, the Internet is funded by ads. And there is still a great deal of innovation to come in digital advertising. 

IEEE Computer
Computers and digital displays replace posters and billboards. Such display systems are essentially distributed computing systems that enable a new form of communication in public space. Advertising is the driving factor for this transition and at the same time advertising is transformed through this development. Engaging and motivating the users as well as measuring their interaction is a major challenge for the advertisers. For society it is a unique chance to establish a new communication media in which advertising is present, but does not dominate it.

Spotted: a veteran thinks about the future technology we need

David J. Kasik takes a look at the latest advances in graphics technology.      

Spotted: Leveraging Multidisciplinarity in a Visual Analytics Graduate Course

Niklas and david do good work. 

Demand is growing in engineering, business, science, research, and industry for students with visual analytics expertise. However, teaching VA is challenging owing to the multidisciplinary nature of the topic, students' diverse backgrounds, and the corresponding requirements for instructors. This article reports best practices from a VA graduate course at Purdue University, where instructors leveraged these challenges to their advantage instead of trying to mitigate them. 

Spotted: High-Fidelity Interactive Rendering on Desktop Grids

More parallel rendering, with some randomness. 

Traditionally, high computational costs have restricted high-fidelity interactive rendering to expensive shared-memory or dedicated distributed processors. Desktop grids offer a low-cost alternative by combining arbitrary computational resources connected to a network, such as the resources in a laboratory or an office. However, the prevalent interactive rendering algorithms can't seamlessly handle the variable computational power offered by a desktop grid's nondedicated resources. A proposed fault-tolerant algorithm renders high-fidelity images at an interactive rate that can handle variable resources. A conventional approach of rescheduling failed jobs in a volatile environment would inhibit performance when rendering at interactive rates because the time margins are small. Instead, this method uses quasi-random sampling along with image reconstruction. This video shows examples of scenes rendered on a desktop grid. 

Spotted: clever idea - Resolution enhancement by vibrating displays

But I wonder about the impact on user experience and longevity. 

Floraine Berthouzoz, Raanan Fattal

We present a method that makes use of the retinal integration time in the human visual system for increasing the resolution of displays. Given an input image with a resolution higher than the display resolution, we compute several images that match the display's native resolution. We then render these low-resolution images in a sequence that repeats itself on a high refresh-rate display. The period of the sequence falls below the retinal integration time and therefore the eye integrates the images temporally and perceives them as one image. In order to achieve resolution enhancement we apply small-amplitude vibrations to the display panel and synchronize them with the screen refresh cycles.