1. In this talk, I’ll describe a research approach that relies on technology design not as an end in itself but as a way to understand social phenomena, from how artists use new technologies to foster insight and action to how community members engage public space to produce new modes of citizenship. To illustrate this approach I'll focus on a study of walking by drawing with Trace, a mobile mapping application that generates walking routes based on digital sketches people create and annotate without a map. In addition to creating walking paths, Trace enables people to send the paths to others, thus developing a unique form of digital communication. We designed Trace to explore the possibility of emphasizing guided wandering over precise, destination-oriented navigation. Studies of sixteen people’s use of Trace over roughly one week reveal how walkers find Trace both delightful and disorienting, highlighting moments of surprise, frustration, and identification with GIS routing algorithms. I show how design interventions offer possibilities for understanding the work of technology development and how it might be done differently in HCI.

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  2. As prices continue to drop, smartphones are beginning to find their way into the hands of low-income people in rural areas of India. At the same time, internet connectivity is spreading to more and more remote areas at increasingly affordable rates. In anticipation and response to these trends, we have been exploring how to design mobile applications that can serve people who are able to use the internet for the very first time. What kinds of apps would be useful for people in rural India? How are they different from apps anywhere else? How do we manage constraints in literacy, cost, power, connectivity, and language? In this talk, I will discuss a few projects that explore these questions. Projects range from design research to pilot deployments, and include applications for agricultural extension, social networking for farmers, and citizen journalism/grievance redressal for marginalized rural communities (this last together with several folks from UW!).

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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. 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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