Calum's CHI Photoblog - Part 2

Tuesday

Okay, slight confession—I skipped the first session this morning to go shopping for some essentials that I forgot to pack! I did take a few snaps on the way though, and since I didn't take any other conference-related photos today, I at least ought to show you some of those instead.

Copy of Michelangelo's David, and Hercules and Cacus, Piazza della Signoria

Ponte Vecchio

Santa Maria Novella

So to the sessions I did attend:

  • Beyond end-user programming. I particularly wanted to go to this session because of the InGimp talk, to hear how Michael Terry et al. instrumented the open source GIMP image editor (available on a Solaris desktop near you) in such a way that all the information collected is publicly available. Since the GIMP uses the same widget toolkit (gtk) as the rest of the GNOME desktop, I was interested to hear how easy it might be to abstract this technique to instrument any GNOME application, perhaps even making it a standard feature (for development releases at least). I did specifically ask this question, but received a fairly non-committal response :) I'd still like to follow up on this later, though.
  • Meta-CHI was part of this year's alt.chi programme (a track causing some controversy in itself), and the three talks here concerned how to improve the way we do 'interaction criticism', a re-appraisal of the three classic principles of 'early focus on users and tasks, empirical measurement, and iterative design', and a comparison of the way that quality criteria are applied in the fields of science and design. As with the opening plenary, all a bit introspective and academic for my tastes, but at least the clue was in the name this time so I could go prepared!
  • Friends, Foes and Family. Social networking is a big theme at this year's conference, and also concerned a couple of the papers in this session. Have to say I was disappointed overall, very little made me think "oh, I never thought of that."

    The first talk was about how people assess 'attractiveness' on online dating profiles (conclusion: it's mostly about the photo—no surprise there), but without any real explanation as to how the research might be useful. "Maintaining friendships after a residential move" had the most potential out of this session, but again there were no real surprises; the one interesting snippet perhaps being that decreasing email frequency after a move does seem to have a negative impact on perceived 'quality of friendship', but that increasing the frequency doesn't have a positive impact. The other two shorter talks were about whether friends on social networking sites are more persuasive in spreading content than casual acquaintances or 'foes', and how and why parents tend to record personal information on their online calendars at work, and the sort of problems this can create. The latter (a Microsoft Research project) was particularly surprise-free, and seemed to me to highlight shortcomings in Outlook's calendaring capabilities compared to other online calendars as much as anything :)

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