Mailing Lists: Why Are They Still Here, What’s Wrong With Them, and How Can We Fix Them?

Online group discussion has been around almost as long as the Internet, but it seems we still can’t create tools for it that satisfy everyone. Starting with the first mailing list in 1972 and evolving to modern social media tools, we see tensions between people’s desire to participate in productive discussions and the struggle to [...]

PhD: Part 1

Fig. 1: An early version of SIEUFERD, the Schema-Independent End-User Front-End for Relational Databases.
It’s my sixth year in graduate school; my committee has been formed, my PhD thesis proposal has been submitted, and I am coding along on SIEUFERD, the research system from which I hope to squeeze my remaining research contributions. The project and [...]

Semantic Web for End Users: Keynote from ESWC 2013 now Online

A final addendum to my series of three posts on the Semantic Web and End Users.  The talk that I summarized in those posts is now online here, synchronized with the slides I presented.  I think I did a pretty good job getting through 217 slides in 75 minutes, and there’s some interesting Q&A at [...]

Try out Habitbug!

One of the things that’s been interesting to us for a while now is how we can use our friends to help us get things done – friendsourcing. (See some example previous posts here, here, here, and here.)
We’re excited to launch habitbug, which is a Twitter app that helps you form and maintain habits by [...]

Two Funny Things at the 2012 International Semantic Web Conference

I spent last week at the 2012 International Semantic Web Conference.  This conference addresses the important topic of structured data on the web.  I had two “funny” experiences; one humorous and one peculiar.
At the beginning of the conference, I was amused to see that ISWC, whose central theme is linking the web’s data together into [...]

To improve the CHI conference, would you share which talks you attended?

I’m having a great time at CHI (including my first time two-stepping today) but I strongly believe, as Jonathan Grudin asserted today, that we can make use of data to improve the conference.  I’ve already analyzed historical data that demonstrates that we can substantially reduce reviewer workload.  We’ve also created a way you can use [...]

For CHI 2012: Discussion Forums in the Document Margins

Would you like some feedback on your CHI paper?  We’ve set up a site to let people read and comment on it.
On Wednesday at CHI, we’ll be presenting our paper on nb, a discussion forum situated in the margins of documents being discussed.  Its original intended usage was for discussion of classroom lecture notes, but [...]

NICAR, from a programmer's eyes

Last week I attended NICAR 2012, a conference for computer assisted investigative reporting. I was there to help David teach reporters how school writing paper to use tools such as Datapress and Exhibit and to learn about the needs and state-of-the-art of computers in reporting. It is always a privilege to get to visit and [...]

NetBeans Platform IAP Workshop

Last weekend, came to Boston to hold, for the first time, the official NetBeans Platform Training Course as an IAP workshop here at MIT. It was a great three days, and as for myself, just about every single thing we were taught during the course will go straight into the software I am building [...]

CIKM 2011 Keynote: User Interfaces that Entice People to Manage Better Information

Today I gave a keynote at CIKM 2011.  I argued that in addition to all our work on tools the process information for users, we should also be looking at tools that make people better able to apply their innate information processing talents for themselves.  I talked about the following tools that reflext that idea, [...]