CHI conference report, day 2, 3

On Tuesday, I attended a session on mobile interaction techniques. The first paper was presented by Will Seager and was titled: “Comparing Physical, Automatic, and Manual Map Rotation for Pedestrian Navigation“. The authors were trying to answer the question: what’s the best way to rotate digital maps on mobile devices? They compared three conditions one in which they were giving a paper-based map, the second where they were giving a mobile device but asked the participants to physically rotate the device to adapt to the different orientations and finally using automatic rotation of the map. Counter-intuitively, people had an hard time recognizing the map with automatic rotation. A good compromise seemed to be a combination of manual and automatic techniques.

Enrico presented a talk on his master’s thesis on liminal devices: “Intimate interfaces in Action: Assessing the Usability and Subtlety of EMG-Based Motionless gestures“. A new way of communicating with mobile devices, in which minimal information is exchanged. His device used EMG (electromyograms) electrical signals that are sent to the mussels to activate a movements. Sensing these signals is possible to use them to act on a device like a mobile phone.

On Wednesday, I attended a session on Tags, Tagging and Notetaking. One of the most interesting paper was presented by Morgan G. Ames, on “Why We Tag: Motivations for Annotation in Mobile and Online Media“. The author conducted a user study on ZoneTag a mobile application that allows to easily take pictures with the phone, tag these, and post them on Flickr. They interviewed a number of user using the application and they built a taxonomy of the reasons why people add tags to pictures. I had the impression that the same taxonomy also applied to other tagging situation, like geolocalized messaging. The short answer was that tagging is a social activity and the reasons for doing this are multifaceted. Another interesting question to ask would be: “why people do not tag?”.

Aaron Bauer presented a paper on “Selection-Based Note-Taking Applications“. They conducted a controlled experiment to answer the question: “Why/How should I take notes?”. They found that we should design better interventions and that user tests should include attitudes. Finally they concluded that we should reduce wordy-notes as they do not help recall.

Finally I attended two short talks. The first was presented by Kaj Makela and it was titled “Mobile Interaction with Visual and RFID Tags – A Field Study on User Perception“.  Presented a nice report on how RFID and visual tags are used in an everyday context. The second was on how people use tagclouds: it was presented by A. W. Rivadeneira and it was titled: “Getting Our Head in the Clouds: Toward Evaluation Studies of Tagclouds. The authors found that the location of words and their size had an effect on memory recall. This was called effect of “quadrant”.

In the afternoon I attended the session on designing for specific cultures. The first paper was presented by K. Boehner and it was titled: “How HCI interprets the probes“. The authors performed an analysis of the use of cultural probes and allied methods in HCI design practices. The paper provides an alternative account of the relationship between data gathering and knowledge production in HCI.

The session on learning and education was also very inspiring. I attended a short talk on the use of improvisation for design: “Improvisation Principles and Techniques for Design“, presented by E. Gerber. The authors explored the application of the principles and techniques of improvisation to the practice of design, demonstrating potential successful outcomes at the individual and group level in design. Mistakes should be celebrated.

One of the most interesting papers of the day was presented by Pamela J. Ludford on “Capturing, Sharing, and using Local Place Information“. The authors presented the benefits of shared local place information application reporting on two user studies. The starting assumption was that we find places by following social/popular places. They describe the use of an application called PlaceMail using which people could set location-based reminders for their personal use. Then they asked their participants their consent to share annotations with the general public. They used the data collected during this trial to show social trails in an application called ShareScape. Using this second experiment they details privacy preferences in this domain. This work was a follow-up of this paper presented at CHI2006.

Finally Carl DiSalvo presented a paper titled “MapMover: A Case Study of Design-Oriented Research into Collective Expression and Constructed Publics“. The paper report a failure in building a location-based service called MapMover that supported the authoring of audio recordings displayed at specific points on a map. In order for these services to work a public is required. Public should be intended as constructions from constraints.

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