1. In this talk I will use evidence from basic behavioral and neuroimaging research on human information processing to show why non-visual interfaces can be as effective as visual displays for supporting spatial learning and navigation behavior. I will then discuss some key challenges to assistive technology (AT) design and describe some simple guidelines for avoiding common pitfalls such as the engineering trap and the specific importance of adopting user-centered design for AT development. I will conclude by describing ongoing work in my lab that highlights the cutting edge of AT and multimodal interface design in the domains of spatial learning and navigation.

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  2. Categories permeate HCI. Category structures underlie menu systems, Web information architectures, and database attributes and values, to list just a few examples. To facilitate efficient interactions between people and information, standard design practice for metadata and other category-based information infrastructure emphasizes precisely delineated category boundaries: a biological specimen of a butterfly should be associated with one particular species, a book should be written in one or more distinct languages, a flight to Chicago should have an identifiable airline. But the world is diverse, unruly, and dynamic, and such boundaries are inevitably porous. The modern African French in document A is very different from the sixteenth-century Parisian French in document B. Your flight is run by United but operated by Mesa. Entomologists aren’t sure about the butterfly. Leigh Star and Geoffrey Bowker describe information that falls outside, in between, is split among, or otherwise doesn’t fit in a category system as residual. Residuality is pervasive and unavoidable; in other words, standard design practice for category systems attempts to achieve an impossible goal. In this talk, I report on an extended critical design project that investigates the phenomenon of residuality as a design resource, rather than a design problem. By creating and reflecting on information systems that engage directly with residuality, we have begun to identify productive modes of interaction associated with residual information, and accompanying design strategies for facilitating these interactive experiences.

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  3. The emergence of robotic products that serve as automated tools, assistants, and collaborators promises tremendous benefits across a range of everyday settings from the home to manufacturing facilities. While these products promise interactions that can be far more complex than those with conventional products, their successful integration into the human environment requires these interactions to be also natural and intuitive. To achieve complex but intuitive interactions, designers and developers must simultaneously understand and address computational and human challenges. In this talk, I will present my group’s work on building human-centered guidelines, methods, and tools to address these challenges in order to facilitate the design of robotic technologies that are more effective, intuitive, acceptable, and even enjoyable. In particular, I will present a series of projects that demonstrate how a marrying of knowledge about people and computational methods can enable effective user interactions with social, assistive, and telepresence robots and the development of novel tools and methods that support complex design tasks across the key stages of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation in the design process. I will additionally present ongoing work that applies these guidelines to the development of real-world applications of robotic technology.

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  4. Dating sites have become the app du jour in recent years, now that we often meet and connect with each other online first. However, the common complaint is that most of these sites are dehumanizing, as if people were simply units of data. At the same time, harassment of women from notorious sources like 4Chan, the less than 17% of women in tech companies, and the even fewer women as CEOs all underscore the dearth of women’s agency and and voice in the digital space, a problem that negatively affects everyone. Siren, a homegrown start up founded by a female artist, has burst onto the scene in its first two months of public beta in Seattle, an unexpected antidote coming from unexpected places. As the artist, I began with the question: “How do we make strangers less strange?”and I’ll show how I went from just speaking the idea of Siren into existence, to our present model. I’ll delineate the two pain points in the online dynamic: Women’s discomfort in all current models (which also creates frustration for men) and the static data model ultimately unhelpful in finding chemistry. I will describe how Siren creatively cut through the noise of new competitors and threatens older models, so that Siren is now considered a first mover (as one of the best online dating sites already). I’ll show the Siren’s features as parallels to real life as interpreted through the lens of the artist, in which women always control the visibility of their profiles, sending clearer signals to men. I will also demonstrate how we have radically changed the way people discover others through Questions of the Day, which provides fresh, dynamically-updated user content within a conversational “water-cooler” space for users to gently find unexpected chemistry through hints of personalities. The interstitial moments of our daily lives are increasingly connected to others; Siren attempts to take the best of technology to augment human relationships in ways that make us smile; perhaps our tagline says it all: Charm Someone’s Pants Off.

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  5. Parents have become one of the most active demographics of social media users. Though there has been extensive interest in digital youth, little research has focused on their parents. Social media sites provide tremendous opportunities for parents to access information and social support, but also fail them in critical ways. If we expect parents to raise their children effectively in a complex and evolving digital world, we need to develop new tools and theories to help them do so. In this talk, I will describe how new mothers decide what to share about their children on Facebook, how mothers discuss their family anonymously online, and how parents of children with special needs overcome judgment online. I will discuss implications for individual and shared identity, privacy, and ownership of digital content. Finally, I will describe future directions for technology design, including managing audiences, guarding family privacy, and promoting appropriate technology use in the home.

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