14 June 2011
We’re pleased to announce the line up for the EuroHCIR 2011 workshop–the first HCIR event to be held outside the US. It will be held as part of the British HCI Conference in Newcastle on July 4. The program will include:
- Short slots for oral presentations of the 9 accepted papers
- A keynote address
- A poster session
- Interactive group activities
- The potential of Recall and Precision as interface design parameters for information retrieval systems situated in everyday environments
Ayman Moghnieh and Josep Blat
- The Mosaic Test: Benchmarking Colour-based Image Retrieval Systems Using Image Mosaics
William Plant, Joanna Lumsden and Ian Nabney.
- Exploratory Search in an Audio-Visual Archive: Evaluating a Professional Search Tool for Non-Professional Users
Marc Bron, Jasmijn Van Gorp, Frank Nack and Maarten De Rijke
- A Taxonomy of Enterprise Search
Tony Russell-Rose, Joe Lamantia and Mark Burrell
- Evaluating the Cognitive Impact of Search User Interface Design Decisions
Max L. Wilson
- Supplying Collaborative Source-code Retrieval Tools to Software Developers
Juan M. Fernández-Luna, Juan F. Huete and Julio Rodriguez-Cano
- Problem Solved: A Practical Approach to Search Design
- Back to MARS: The unexplored possibilities in query result visualization
Alfredo Ferreira, Pedro B. Pascoal and Manuel J. Fonseca.
- Interactive Analysis and Exploration of Experimental Evaluation Results
Emanuele Di Buccio, Marco Dussin, Nicola Ferro, Ivano Masiero, Giuseppe Santucci and Giuseppe Tino
- Towards User-Centered Retrieval Algorithms
Manuel J. Fonseca
- Design Thinking Search User Interfaces
- The Development and Application of an Evaluation Methodology for Person Search Engines
Roland Brennecke, Thomas Mandl and Christa Womser-Hacker
9 November 2008
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the role of paper and offline information resources in our overall information experience as humans interact with information. Some recent projects and research at work put the topic back on my plate. It was also part of my talk at the Euro IA conference (see Commercial Ethnography: Innovating Information Experiences).
A while back, I published a short essay on the potential importance of a creating print-friendly web pages. See Printing the Web in Boxes and Arrows (2003). The motivation for that article came from the observation that people quite like to print things from the web, as well as printing things like email. It seemed to me at the time that perhaps there is even a higher use of paper in offices since the web came along than before. So, our experience with a website may extend offline as well, and designers should consider how to best create print-friendly content.
Then, while at the CHI conference this year, I came across two fascinating exhibits related to paper. The first was digital paper, also called interactive paper. The second was iCandy, a program that allows you to print from your iTunes collections. Both of these stood out, particularly at a conference where digital interfaces are the focus of attention. With iCandy, for instance, the inventor was taking something that wasn’t originally available offline–iTunes–and making it available in paper format. Why bother, I thought? Is the experience with iTunes not sufficient? Is there something missing or something better than interacting with my music collection with iTunes? These two exhibits, as well as my own observations, suggest that yes–there is something with experiencing information on paper that gets completely lost in electronic formats.
Even more recently, I came across a post from innovation guru Scott Anthony about Plastic Logic’s new reader device. Interestingly, the hurdle he sees for Plastic Logic with their new reader is an experiential one:
But think about that target user. Hassled executives have defined patterns of behavior about how they interact with documents. They are used to flipping, scribbling, and shuffling through those documents. Sure, the weight of the paper can be cumbersome, but Plastic Logic faces an uphill climb if its device makes it harder rather than easier to review and comment on documents.
The experience we have with print materials is, in Anthony’s opinion, a potential showstopper for widespread acceptance of new reading devices. But it’s not just a matter of habit that we gravitate to read things on paper: there are real benefits of working with a multi-dimensional medium like paper that get lost in electronic formats.
Finally, Peter Merholz just posted about the paperless office again. He reaches back to a previous posting of his in which he disagrees with Malcolm Gladwell’s article in the New Yorker in 2002 on the topic. Peter makes some good points, but he’s also a little myopic on this one, particularly when making conclusions based on what he sees at his office. The habits of a cutting-edge, digital design office (Adaptive Path) hardly represent how people in other industries and businesses use paper.
I personally don’t foresee the complete disappearance of paper in the office in the near future, but I believe the time will come when online information experiences are rich enough to make it truly more advantageous to read a document from a computer screen than from paper. But even then, paper resources will still have a role. As noted at the end of an article entitled “On its way, at last” in The Economist–the catalyst for Peter’s post–we’ll probably see a re-purposing of paper. And Peter himself mentions such a shift as well in the Adaptive Path office.
Paradigm shifts with other types of media have also seen this type of re-purposing of old, incumbent media. As the radio became widespread, for instance, the initial reporting of a news event stopped being communicate by lads standing on the corner shouting “Extra, Extra.” As a result, newspapers become more process-oriented. In other words, radio took over the announcing role, and people then got the details of the event from the newspaper. But newspapers didn’t go away.
So I don’t think we’ll see the completely paperless office, at least not on a widespread basis. Sure, some companies may actually achieve a paperless office, but they will be the exception rather than the norm. Instead, paper will come to serve a different role. It will be used for informal communication and extra-work events, or for brainstorming session and other creative exercises, or for official documents that require a signature and a company seal, for instance. There will be less of it, for sure–particularly for administrative things–but a completely paperLESS office is not only NOT in our future, but probably a bad idea.
“The ‘paperless office’ is a bad idea because paper is one of the most useful and valuable media ever invented.”
11 October 2008
Check out the Hard Rock Cafe collection of memorabilia. Combined with a faceted navigation on the left, you can really move around the items quite quickly. And because these are photos, you immediately see what you are getting. The zoom function is great–you can read the fine print on a document or see scratches on the guitars.
I can also imagine browsing publications, books, and newspapers with this technology, so there’d be application for it in information design and information architecture.
29 July 2007
Personally, I never considered PowerPoint to be evil. It’s just another tool the communicate. Sure, it can be used wrong, and it has it’s own style of communication, but any medium does. SlideCasting looks like it will make posted slide decks much more powerful.
If you have experience with SlideCasting, let me know what you think.
16 July 2007
Matt Hurst over at Data Mining: Text Mining, Visualization and Social Media points to this interactive map on the NY Times website to track political campaign funding. I guess I’m spoiled by the Trendalyzer mentioned in my previous post, but this level of interactivity is downright tame. It’s smooth and somewhat usable (although the banners and nav at the top of the screen cut of the date range controls so that I didn’t see them until I was done looking at it), but I craved for more interactivity and exposing relationships.
The thing I really wanted to somehow have the ability to overlay two or more candidates’ funding bubbles. Flicking between the two, Obama clearly gets more support from the Chicago area than Guiliani, for instance (which is no surprise). But what other interesting connections and relationships might also be revealed? How’s Barack stacking up to Rudy in NY? Or how about bubbles for Dems vs Reps? I don’t want to knock the NYT for doing this, but there just seems like so many other easy targets that could have made this so much better.
BTW, check out Matt’s blog for other neat things going on in the text mining and analytics realm.
9 July 2007
There’s a interesting study in the February issue of JASIST about which elements are most important for determining credibility of news stories on automated news aggregator pages, like Google News.  Though the findings might be obvious (there’s nothing wrong with stating the obvious), the researchers point to three elements that are most important on such automatically created pages:
- The name of primary source from which the headline and lead were borrowed
- The time elapsed since the story broke
- The number of related articles written on the topic of the story
The researchers write: “…The findings from this study demonstrate that information scent is not simply restricted to the actual text of the news lead or headline in a news aggregating service. Automatically generated cues revealing the pedigree of the hyperlinked information carry their own information scent. Furthermore, these cues appear to be psychologically significant and therefore worthy of design attention. Systems that emphasize such cues in their interfaces are likely to aid information foraging, especially under situations where the user is unlikely to be highly task-motivated and therefore prone toward heuristically based judgments of information relevance. Navigational tools that highlight these cues are likely to be more effective in directing user traffic, as evidenced by early research on newspaper design (which highlighted the attention-getting potential of placement, layout, and color) and screen design (focusing primarily on typography and color…Finally, visualization efforts should focus on attracting user attention towards-and making explicit the value of-proximal cues instead of simply concentrating on visualizing the underlying information.”
This means to me that–even though the pages are automatically generated–there is still information architecture and information design that is critical to understanding and experience the information. Maybe machines won’t replace designers and there is a place for professions like IA in the future after all. Hmm…
 Sundar, S. Shyam, Silvia Knoblock-Westerwick, Matthias R. Hastall. News Cues: Information Scent and Cognitive Heuristics. JASIST 58(3): 366-378, 2007.
24 June 2007
For decades, information science has developed and examined the notion of relevance in information retrieval (IR). By and large, the approach to measuring relevance has been rather technical. Recall and precision have been the two main measures:
- Recall looks at whether all of the documents relevant to a given query are returned.
- Precision measures whether only the relevant documents are returned.
To measure relevance, you first need to create a key. This is a list of matching documents in a given database to a given query. But this key is itself artificial and doesn’t take into account any of the significant contextual factors people employ when determining relevance in real-life situations. It’s made up ahead of time by group of people who themselves don’t have a real information need in a real IR situation.
Tefko Saracevic points to a broader model of relevance in his article Relevance Reconsidered . This includes the notion of technical relevance, but takes a more holistic look at relevance accounting for information interaction in IR situations. In addtion to technical relevance, he adds other types to the mix:
- “Topical or subject relevance: relation between the subject or topic expressed in a query, and topic or subject covered by retrieved texts, or more broadly, by texts in the systems file, or even in existence. It is assumed that both queries and texts can be identified as being about a topic or subject. Aboutness is the criterion by which topicality is inferred.
- Cognitive relevance or pertinence: relation between the state of knowledge and cognitive information need of a user, and texts retrieved, or in the file of a system, or even in existence. Cognitive correspondence, informativeness, novelty, information quality, and the like are criteria by which cognitive relevance is inferred.
- Situational relevance or utility: relation between the situation, task, or problem at hand, and texts retrieved by a systems or in the file of a system, or even in existence. Usefulness in decision making, appropriateness of information in resolution of a problem, reduction of uncertainty, and the like are criteria by which situational relevance is inferred.
- Motivational or affective relevance: relation between the intents, goals, and motivations of a user, and texts retrieved by a system or in the file of a system, or even in existence. Satisfaction, success, accomplishment, and the like are criteria for inferring motivational relevance.”
A recent study in JASIST (July 2007) also shows that relevance is very situational and contextual . The researchers looked at how people picked documents from random-ordered results lists from different search engines (Google, MSN Search, and Yahoo!).
“The findings show that the similarities between the users’ choices and the rankings of the search engines are low. We examined the effects of the presentation order of the results, and of the thinking styles of the participants. Presentation order influences the rankings, but overall the results indicate that there is no ‘average user,’ and even if the users have the same basic knowledge of a topic, they evaluate information in their own context, which is influenced by cognitive, affective, and physical factors.”
Cognitive, affective, and physical factors? Yikes. Recall and precision don’t look at any of these, yet these were found to be significant. So what does the traditional notion of relevance in IR really measure with recall and precision?
I believe there is a much broader context that needs to be considered–one that accounts for the entire information experience. Not sure what this is, but context and situation seem to trump recall and precision in real-world IR. Perhaps relevance isn’t even relevant any more in the online, ditigal world anyway. Perhaps we need a entirely new model for understanding how and when people select documents in IR situations.
 Tefko Saracevic (1996). Relevance reconsidered. Information science: Integration in perspectives. Proceedings of the Second Conference on Conceptions of Library and Information Science. Copenhagen (Denmark), 201-218.
 Judit Bar-Ilan, Kevin Keenoy, Eti Yaari, & Mark Levene (July 2007). User rankings of search engine results. JASIST (58, 9) 1254-1266.