HCIL Seminar Series

The purpose of the seminars are to promote interdisciplinary discussion of topics relating to Human-Computer Interaction and to facilitate communication between members of the UMD HCI community.

For questions or comments, contact Ben Bederson (bederson@cs.umd.edu)
Fall 2001 Series

John Robinson, Professor / UM College Park School of Behavioral & Social Sciences
"Building Social Science on a Website: Progress and Prospects for webuse.umd.edu" (Abstract)
September 11, 1:00pm, 2120 A.V. Williams Building

Marti Hearst, Assistant Professor / UC Berkeley School of Information Mgmt. & Systems
"Moving Towards Automated Web Site Design Advisors" (Abstract)
October 9, 1:00pm, 2120 A.V. Williams Building

Shalom Fisch, Researcher / MediaKidz Research & Consulting (formerly of Children's Television Workshop, now Sesame Workshop)
"Challenges for the Future of Children's Educational Media" (Abstract)
October 23, 2:00pm, 3258 A.V. Williams Building

Arkady Pogostkin, Principal QA Engineer / AOL Technologies
"Automated Software Testing for High-Demand Consumer Applications" (Abstract)
November 6, 2:00pm, 3258 A.V. Williams Building

Stephen North, Researcher / AT&T Labs - Research, Shannon Laboratory
"Network Visualization Coupled with Data Mining"(Abstract)
November 20, 2:00pm, 3258 A.V. Williams Building

Brygg Ullmer, Ph.D Student / Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) Media Lab
"Tangible User Interfaces for Abstract Digital Information" (Abstract)
November 27, 2:00pm, 2120 A.V. Williams Building

Rob Miller, Ph.D Student / Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science
New Approaches to Text Editing: Multiple Selections and Outlier Finding" (Abstract)
December 4, 2:00pm, 3258 A.V. Williams Building

Brian Bailey, Ph.D Student / University of Minnesota, Twin Cities - Dept. of Computer Science and Engineering
"DEMAIS: Designing Multimedia Applications with Interactive Storyboards" (Abstract)
December 11, 2:00pm, 3258 A.V. Williams Building

Francois Guimbretiere, Ph.D Student / Stanford University - Computer Science Dept.
Fluid Interaction for High Resolution Wall-size Displays" (Abstract)
December 18, 2:00pm, 3258 A.V. Williams Building



John Robinson: "Building Social Science on a Website: Progress and Prospects for WEBUSE.UMD.EDU"

In its first year of operation, the webuse website has managed to become operational by incorporating more than 10 national surveys of Internet users now available for interactive online secondary analyses, the major ones being the year 2000 Digital Divide surveys of NTIA, the General Social Survey and the Pew Internet Project. In addition the website also contains summaries of more than 50 summer webshop presentations by leading scholars around the world, an extensive online annotated bibliography, a collection of 25 individual-level Internet user qualitative profiles from a representative sample, societal-level Internet-relevant data on more than 100 characteristics for more than 180 countries, and other materials useful for content analysis, experiments and observational studies of Internet use. Some early conclusions about Internet activity and impact from this body of research materials will be reviewed, along with prospects for future elaborations of the website.

John Robinson (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1965) is a Professor of Sociology and Director of the Internet Scholars Program and the Americans Use of Time Project at the University of Maryland. He has been tracking trends in time use, the impact of the mass media (including the Internet) in public opinion since the 1950s and is a specialist in social science methodology. He is the author of Time for Life: The Surprising Ways Americans Spend Time (University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 1999), Measures of Political Attitudes (San Diego, California: Academic Press, 1999), and Measures of Personality and Social Psychological Attitudes (San Diego, California: Academic Press, 1991).

Marti Hearst: " Moving Towards Automated Web Site Design Advisors"

Marti Hearst and her team (Melody Ivory and Rashmi Sinha) are creating interactive tools to help non-professional web site builders improve their designs. They have developed a software tool that computes over 150 quantitative measures to assess page-level and site-level aspects of a web site's design. Three empirical studies have verified that these measures can be used to accurately predict whether a site receives high, moderate, or poor quality ratings from a panel of experts (94% accuracy on average). From these results the team constructs profiles of web site design that reflect content type (e.g., news site, financial site, living site), functional type (e.g., home page, content page, link page), page size, and overall site structure. These profiles are used to provide suggestions for improvements that reflect the context and particulars of a given site.

Dr. Hearst joined the SIMS faculty at UC Berkeley in Fall 1997. From 1994-1997 she was a Member of the Research Staff at Xerox PARC working on information access. She received her BA, MS, and PhD degrees in computer science from the University of California at Berkeley in the BAIR group. Marti also was an intern at Xerox PARC for much of graduate school.

She is on the editorial board for ACM Transactions on Information Systems (TOIS), for Computational Linguistics, (the journal for the Association for Computational Linguistics), and for IEEE Intelligent Systems.

She is also a recipient of an NSF Career Grant, a Hellman Faculty Fund Award, an Okawa Foundation Fellowship, and an Excellence in Teaching Award.

Shalom Fisch: "Challenges for the Future of Children's Educational Media"

It is no secret that the world of media and technology is changing rapidly around us, with new developments arising almost daily: high-speed broadband access, digital and interactive television, handheld wireless devices for communication and gaming, nonstandard input devices that allow interaction through toys or clothing, and so on. Each new technological development carries the potential to provide a broad audience of children with educational content and activities in new and different ways.

However, while this technology holds vast potential, it poses vast challenges as well. For technology to be used to its greatest benefit, it must be designed and made available in ways that take the needs, habits, and developmental levels of the target audience into account. This talk will draw on concrete examples of existing and projected educational media products for children, to discuss three such classes of issues: access (in terms of not only the Digital Divide, but also the need for material to be culturally and linguistically appropriate for the user), design (regarding both hardware and software), and use (concerning the nature and constraints of the real-life settings in which the end product will be used). With technologies and business models changing so rapidly, it is impossible to know which of the new technologies will emerge as dominant vehicles for educational content in the future. However, similar considerations can be applied to all such technologies, to help ensure that they yield products that are appealing, beneficial, and useful for children and their families.

Shalom Fisch is Founder and President of MediaKidz Research & Consulting, a consulting firm that provides educational content development, hands-on testing, and writing for children's media.  (Current clients include Sony, Nelvana, DC Comics, Sesame Workshop, and ibooks/Berkeley Books, among others.)  Prior to founding MediaKidz in the summer of 2001, Dr. Fisch was Vice President for Program Research at Sesame Workshop, where he oversaw curriculum development, formative research, and summative research for a broad range of television series, outreach projects, school-age magazines, and interactive material for online and CD-ROMs.  In his 15 years at the Workshop, Dr. Fisch was Research and/or Content Director for numerous preschool and school-age media-based projects.

Outside the Workshop, Dr. Fisch has served as an advisor and reviewer for various government agencies and nonprofit organizations, such as the U.S. Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Coalition for Quality Children's Media (a.k.a. "Kids First!"), and the National Institute for Child Health and Development.  In the academic realm, he has also been an adjunct professor at Fordham University and New York University, where he received a Ph.D. in Experimental/Developmental Psychology.

Dr. Fisch has also maintained an active sideline as a freelance writer since 1984, with most of his credits consisting of comic book stories for Marvel and DC Comics.  In addition, he has written TV scripts, several books for children and adults, short stories, magazine articles, and material for the Web.  Earlier this year, he finally managed to bridge the gap among all his disparate interests by publishing (with Rosemarie Truglio) a book entitled "G" Is for "Growing": Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street.  He is currently working on a second academic book that reaches beyond Sesame Street to explore children's learning from educational television in general.

Arkady Pogostkin: "Automated Software Testing for High-Demand Consumer Applications"

Test automation is playing an ever more important role in the business of software development.  Shrinking product cycles, increasing number of features, and proliferation of operating environments make test automation a necessity for any successful software development effort.

AOL has been utilizing black-box test automation for several years, incrementally growing test coverage and depth of testing.  AOL's philosophy and approach to automated testing will be discussed, an overview of available tools presented, and examples of automated tests demonstrated.

Arkady Pogostkin is a Principal QA Engineer at AOL Technologies / Test Automation.  Arkady's role as a technical lead for a number of engineers and developers involves developing test methodology, design and implementation of solutions for new testing projects, building tools for analysis of test results, and selection of testing technologies and tools.  While attending UMCP, Arkady worked with the HCIL from 1993 to1995.  He graduated in 1995 with a Computer Science degree from UMCP.

Stephen North: "Network Visualization Coupled with Data Mining"

The AT&T Infolab is an interdisciplinary collaboration to explore visualization and data mining toward the understanding of very large data sets, particularly ones they have describing global networks and services on them. Visualization is part of a feedback loop in analyzing these data sets. Not merely the end stage of analysis, visualization itself can provide new metaphors for expressing data, which can help spot new patterns unseen by other methods of analysis.

The Infolab has created algorithms and tools for visualization. Their recent work includes a viewer for dynamic hierarchical graphs of modest size (envisioned as a technique for browsing within very large graphs) and an interactive viewer for full-scale data sets of events and transactions on networks and maps. This viewer was first applied to a day's worth of phone call records (about 400 million). Researchers then adapted it to a large frame/ATM packet data network. Mr. North will talk about the engineering of this system, its applications, what worked and what didn't, and some ideas about future goals for such systems.

Stephen North received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Princeton University in 1986.  Before that he earned an MA and MS at Princeton and a B.Sc. at Montclair University.  He considers his main professional accomplishments to be 1) the creation of graphviz, the predominant web-enabled open source graph drawing system; 2) the formation of a discipline-based Information Visualization Research Department in AT&T Labs in 1998 that has focused AT&T's work in large-scale network visualization, and 3) in 1976 at Creative Computing he did the programming for the classic book "101 Basic Computer Games", and worked for a while with Ted Nelson, a hypertext pioneer.

Brygg Ullmer: "Tangible User Interfaces for Abstract Digital Information"

For more than three decades, people have relied on screen-based text and graphics as the primary means for interactively representing digital information. Whether the screen is desk-mounted, head-mounted, hand-held, or embedded in the physical environment, the combination of screens and general-purpose input devices has fostered a predominantly visual paradigm of human-computer interaction.

The talk will introduce research upon "tangible interfaces" – user interfaces in which physical objects serve as both representations and controls for digital information. In particular, Brygg will discuss the application of tangible interfaces to abstract information, focusing on approaches that combine systems of physical tokens with interpretive physical constraints. In these interfaces, physical tokens represent information such as data structures and parameters. Physical constraints are then used to map compositions of these tokens onto interpretations like indexing, sequencing, and Boolean operations. He will present examples applying these techniques to tasks such as manipulating media and querying databases, and will discuss future directions for these kinds of approaches.

Brygg Ullmer is a Ph.D. candidate at the MIT Media Laboratory, where he studies with Prof. Hiroshi Ishii in the Tangible Media group. He holds a B.S. in computer engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (1994), and an M.S. from the MIT Media Laboratory (1997).

He has held internships at Interval Research Corporation (1993-95) and Sony Computer Science Labs, Tokyo (2000). His research interests include tangible and graphical user interfaces for distributed information, network and computing infrastructure, and biological systems, as well as rapid physical and functional prototyping.

Rob Miller: "New Approaches to Text Editing: Multiple Selections and Outlier Finding"

Multiple selections, though heavily used in file managers and drawing editors, are virtually nonexistent in text editing. This talk will describe how multiple selections can automate repetitive text editing. A multiple selection is inferred from positive and negative examples given by the user. The selection is then used for typing, deleting, copying, pasting, or other editing. Multiple-selection editing has been evaluated by user studies and shown to be fast and usable by novices. One inference technique required only 1.26 examples per selection in the user study, closely approaching the one-example ideal.

When users handle large amounts of data, however, errors can be hard to notice. "Outlier finding" is a new way to reduce errors by drawing the user's attention to inconsistent data that may indicate errors. Rob has developed an outlier finder for text that can suggest both false positives and false negatives in a multiple selection. When integrated into the multiple-selection editor and tested in a small user study, outlier finding reduced errors.

These techniques are implemented in LAPIS, a freely-available, open-source text editor/web browser written in Java (http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~rcm/lapis). LAPIS is based on the idea of "lightweight structure," an extensible library of patterns and parsers. Lightweight structure has applications not only to smart text editing, but also to web browsing, program transformation, and semistructured databases.

This is joint work with Brad Myers at CMU.

Rob Miller is a PhD candidate in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University, where his interests include text processing, software engineering, end-user automation, and mobile and ubiquitous computing. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT (1995). Prior to that, as a high school student, he helped found a short-lived startup that sold information access via the phone --- five years before the Web, and ten years before cell phones became nearly ubiquitous. He sometimes wishes the company had survived a little longer.

Brian Bailey: "DEMAIS: Designing Multimedia Applications with Interactive Storyboards"

To create an innovative interactive multimedia application, a multimedia designer needs to rapidly explore numerous behavioral design ideas early in the design process, as creating innovative behavior is the cornerstone of creating innovative multimedia. Current tools and techniques do not support a designer’s need for early behavior exploration. To address this need, Brian and team at the University of Minnesota have developed DEMAIS, a sketch-based, interactive multimedia storyboard tool that uses a designer’s ink strokes and textual annotations as an input design vocabulary.

By operationalizing this vocabulary, DEMAIS transforms an otherwise static sketch into a working example. The behavioral sketch can be quickly edited using gestures and an expressive visual language. Evaluation of DEMAIS has produced new lessons for designing gesture-based interfaces and has shown that the tool has a positive impact on the early design process.

Brian Bailey is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Minnesota.  He received his bachelor's degree from Purdue University and his master's degree from University of Minnesota. Both degrees are in Computer Science.

Francois Guimbretiere: "Fluid Interaction for High Resolution Wall-size Displays"

As computers become more ubiquitous, direct interaction with wall-size, high resolution displays will become commonplace. The familiar desktop computer interface will be ill suited to the affordances of these displays. Current Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs) do not take into account the cost of reaching for a far-away menu bar, and they rely heavily on the keyboard for rapid interactions. GUIs are extremely powerful, but their interaction style contrasts sharply with the casual interaction style provided by traditional wall-size displays such as whiteboards and pin-boards.

Francois' work explores how to bridge the gap between the power provided by current desktop computer interfaces and the fluid use of whiteboards and pin-boards. Observing fluid expert interactions in our everyday life, such as driving a car or playing a violin, he and his team have designed, and built a fluid interaction framework which encourages gesture memory, reduces the need for dialog with the user, and provides a scoping mechanism for modes. As the user acquires expertise, these features let the cognitive load of using the interface progressively disappear. The user is now free to focus on other tasks the same way one can drive a car while conversing with a passenger.

To validate the design, Francois and others at Stanford University built the Stanford Interactive Mural, a 9 Mpixel whiteboard-size screen, evaluated the performance of their proposed menu system FlowMenu (preliminary results will be discussed), and implemented PostBrainstorm a digital brainstorming tool. PostBrainstorm lets users gather and organize sketches, snapshots of physical documents, and a variety of digital documents on the Interactive Mural. PostBrainstorm was very well received by professional designers during testing, and was used in the early design stage of the Chrysler Design Award 2001. It demonstrates the feasibility of fluid, transparent interactions for complex, real life applications.

More information can be found at: http://graphics.stanford.edu/~francois