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HCIL Seminar Series

The Seminar Series offers a common ground that can promote interdisciplinary discussion on a wide range of topics relating to Human-Computer Interaction.

These lectures are free and open to the public. No reservations are needed.

For questions or comments, contact the HCIL at

2011-2012 Seminars/Speakers

October 4, 2011

Morning mini-conference on social media, networking, visualization, and computing
Tuesday, 9:30 a.m., HCIL, 2105 Hornbake Building, South Wing

9:30am: Practice talks for IEEE Social Computing Conference
Jen Golbeck presents:

Jennifer Golbeck, Cristina Robles, Michon Edmonson, Karen Turner,
Predicting Personality on Twitter,
Proc. IEEE Conference on Social Computing, IEEE Press, Piscataway, NJ (to appear, October 2011).

10am: Practice talks for IEEE Social Computing Conference
Nick Gramsky presents:

Gove, R., Gramsky,, N., Kirby, R., Sefer, E., Sopan, A., Dunne, C., Shneiderman, B. and Taieb-Maimon, M.,
NetVisia: Heat map & matrix visualization of dynamic social network statistics & content,
Proc. IEEE Conference on Social Computing, IEEE Press, Piscataway, NJ (to appear, October 2011).

Ben Shneiderman presents:

Rodrigues, E., Milic-Frayling, N., Smith, M. A., Shneiderman, B., and Hansen, D.,
Group-In-a-Box layout for multi-faceted analysis of communities,
Proc. IEEE Conference on Social Computing, IEEE Press, Piscataway, NJ (to appear, October 2011).

11am: Distinguished Lecturer:
Dr Robert Ackland, The Australian National University presents:
WWW Hyperlink Network Research: Approaches and Tools


This presentation provides an overview of empirical research into WWW hyperlink networks. Social scientific research in this area is classified into three broad approaches, where hyperlink networks are studied as citation networks, issue networks and social networks, respectively. The disciplinary foundations, underlying assumptions and examples of research for each approach are discussed. The presentation then turns to available tools for conducting hyperlink network research, focusing on three particular tools that are associated with the above approaches: SocSciBot (created by Mike Thelwall at the University of Wolverhampton), Issuecrawler (created by Richard Rogers at the University of Amsterdam) and the Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks (VOSON) which was created by the presenter, at the Australian National University. The three tools are compared in the context of a particular research exercise: constructing the hyperlink network of environmental activist organizations. The presentation finishes with a brief outline of the VOSON project, which was established at the ANU in 2005, including an analysis of user data that has been collected since 2006 when the VOSON software first became available to academics and students.


Robert Ackland is a Fellow at the Australian National University, where he conducts empirical social science research into online social and organizational networks. He leads the Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks project (, coordinates the ANU's Master of Social Research programme and teaches on the social science of the Internet and online research methods. Robert has degrees in economics from the University of Melbourne, Yale University (where he was a Fulbright Scholar) and the ANU, where he gained his PhD in 2001. He has been chief investigator on four Australian Research Council grants and in 2007, he was a UK National Centre for e-Social Science Visiting Fellow and James Martin Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute (where he is currently a Research Associate).

November 10, 2011

Marti Hearst, UC-Berkeley presents:
'Natural' Search Interfaces

Guest speaker at weekly brown bag
Thursday, 12:30 p.m., HCIL, 2105 Hornbake Building, South Wing


What does the future hold for search user interfaces? Following on a recently completed book on this topic, this talk identifies some important trends in the use of information technology and suggest how these may affect search in future. This includes is a notable trend towards more 'natural' user interfaces, a trend towards social rather than solo usage of information technology, and a trend in technology advancing the integration of massive quantities of user behavior and large-scale knowledge bases. These trends are, or will be, interweaving in various ways, which will have some interesting ramifications for search interfaces, and should suggest promising directions for research.


Dr. Marti Hearst is a professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley. She received BA, MS, and PhD degrees in Computer Science from UC Berkeley and was a Member of the Research Staff at Xerox PARC from 1994 to 1997.

A primary focus of Dr. Hearst's research is user interfaces for search. She just completed the first book on the topic of Search User Interfaces and she has invented or participated in several well-known search interface projects including the Flamenco project that investigated and the promoted the use of faceted metadata for collection navigation. Professor Hearst's other research areas include computational linguistics, information visualization, and analysis of social media.

Prof. Hearst has received an NSF CAREER award, an IBM Faculty Award, a Google Research Award, an Okawa Foundation Fellowship, two Excellence in Teaching Awards, and has been principle investigator for more than $3M in research grants.

November 17, 2011

Elisha Peterson presents:
Visualization of Dynamic Graphs with GraphExplorer and a "Time Spring" Layout

Guest speaker at weekly brown bag
Thursday, 12:30 p.m., HCIL, 2105 Hornbake Building, South Wing


Common layout techniques for dynamic networks typically either keep node positions static as the graph changes, or operate by “tweening” optimized layouts between adjacent time slices. These techniques can be problematic because (in the first case) there is significant visual “noise” caused by unnecessary edge crossings, and (in the second case) the nodes change so much from one time slice to another that animation is required to display node movement. This paper describes techniques to balance the benefits of keeping node positions relatively static while allowing enough layout adjustment between slices to demonstrate the changing graph. Comparisons are provided against the common layout procedures for a graph with 20 time slices.


Elisha Peterson is a researcher at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, where he works as both an applied mathematician and a visualization/analytics engineer. His background in mathematics includes a BS in Mathematics from Harvey Mudd College, and graduate work at Oxford University and the University of Maryland, where he was awarded a PhD in Mathematics in 2006. He has long held an interest in visualization, from childhood exploration of BASIC to his PhD thesis concerning an alternate visual approach to algebraic computations. While teaching in the Mathematics Department at the United States Military Academy (West Point), he began to develop software tools for visualizing mathematics for both teaching and research applications, culminating in the development of the Blaise toolkit for mathematics visualization. His recent work includes the development of GraphExplorer, an open source graph visualization tool, and the development of numerous visualizations tailored to particular data sources at APL.

December 1, 2011

Elizabeth Churchill presents:
Eye, I, aye: the Internet as a social science petri dish

Guest speaker at weekly brown bag
Thursday, 12:30 p.m., HCIL, 2105 Hornbake Building, South Wing


In this talk I will discuss the increasingly broad remit of human computer interaction (HCI) as a discipline. This expansion is driven in large part by the proliferation of everyday consumer devices, the applications that are being built for them and the Internet as a far-reaching platform for creation, distribution, recruitment, evaluation and experimentation. I will talk about some of the projects being conducted by the Internet Experiences Group of Yahoo! Research, and consider the ways in which research, practice and development can and do speak to each other. In the process I will reflect on what are, in my opinion, some familiar terms associated with HCI methods that are in need of a dusting off, among them: user-centered, end-user, interactive, iterative, qualitative, quantitative, scale, sample and population.


Dr Elizabeth Churchill is a Principal Research Scientist and manager of the Internet Experiences group at Yahoo! Research. Originally a psychologist by training, throughout her career Elizabeth has focused on understanding the ways in which people interact - whether their interactions are primarily face to face or are technologically mediated. She has published within the areas of theoretical and applied psychology, cognitive science, human computer interaction and computer supported cooperative work. Elizabeth has a BSc in Experimental Psychology, an MSc in Knowledge Based Systems, both from the University of Sussex, and a PhD in Cognitive Science from the University of Cambridge. She regularly teaches at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Information. In 2010, she was recognised as a Distinguished Scientist by the Association for Computing Machinery. She is the current Vice President of the Association of Computing Machinery's (ACM) Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction (SigCHI).

April 3, 2012

Bill Ferster, Senior Scientist, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia presents:
Historical Interactive Visualization: Coaxing Data to Tell Stories

co-sponsored by Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) and HCIL
Tuesday, 12:30-1:45 p.m., HCIL, 2105 Hornbake Building, South Wing


This talk will take an informal look at interactive visualization projects done at the University of Virginia’s Virginia Center for Digital History (VCDH) and the Sciences, Arts, & Humanities Network of Technology Initiatives (SHANTI) digital humanities centers. The projects were built using an NEH-funded visualization authoring tool, VisualEyes, developed at UVa.

VisualEyes enables scholars to present selected primary source materials and research findings while encouraging active inquiry and hands-on learning among general and targeted audiences. It communicates through the use of dynamic displays that organize and present meaningful information in both traditional and multimedia formats, such as audio-video, animation, charts, maps, data, and interactive timelines.

I will also show a number of student-generated visualizations, created in the context of undergraduate project-based learning (PBL) seminars, and discuss how visualization and PBL are strong partners to promote historical inquiry. As a consequence, I have developed a new model to help scaffold the design of data-driven interactive projects called ASSERT. Ask a question; Search for evidence to answer that question; Structure the data; Envision ways to answer the question using the structured data; Represent that data in a compelling interactive manner; and finally, Tell a story using that data to answer the question.


Bill Ferster directs the VisualEyes Project at the University of Virginia with a joint faculty appointment with the Center for Technology and Teacher Education at the Curry School of Education, and with the Sciences, Humanities & Arts Technology Initiative (SHANTI) at the College of Arts and Sciences. In past lives, he founded StageTools, a leading developer of digital motion control tools with its MovingPicture product; Editing Machines, EMMY award winning developer of the first digital nonlinear editing system; and West End, a pioneer in PC-based animation and presentation graphics tools.

June 5, 2012

Sameer Patil, Indiana University presents:
"Check out where I am!": Preferences and Behaviors in Location-Sharing as an Interactive Practice

Hosted by Doug Oard
Tuesday, 1:00 p.m., 4113 Hornbake Building, South Wing


Rapid growth in the usage of location-aware mobile phones has enabled mainstream adoption of Location Sharing Services (LSS). Integration with social networking services has further accelerated this trend. However, sharing of location information presents an inherence tension with managing the privacy of that information. In this talk, I will present two recent studies exploring preferences and behaviors of LSS users. In the first study, respondents (N = 103) were asked to specify location access control rules using free-form everyday language. Our findings validate some prior results while challenging others. We also identified several common themes in the free-form rules. In a follow-up study (N = 401), we found that the main motivations for location sharing were to connect with one's social circle, to project an interesting image of oneself, and to receive rewards o ered for "checking in." Respondents overwhelmingly preferred sharing location only upon explicit action. More than a quarter of the respondents recalled at least one instance of regret over having shared location. We discuss how privacy considerations in LSS are affected by the transformation of location sharing into an interactive practice that is no longer limited only to finding people based on their whereabouts. We offer some design explorations for enhanced privacy management in LSS.


Sameer Patil is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Informatics and Computing (SoIC) at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is affiliated with the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research (CACR) and the Pervasive Health Information Technologies (PHIT) lab. Previously, he was a researcher at the Institute for Software Research (ISR) at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) and a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Institute for Management Information Systems at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. Sameer obtained his Ph. D. in Information and Computer Sciences from the Department of Informatics at UCI with a specialization in Interactive and Collaborative Technologies. He also holds dual Master's degrees - in Information, and Computer Science & Engineering - from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and a Bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering from the University of Mumbai, India.

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