HCDE Seminar Series

Every autumn the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) hosts a 10-week seminar on current research in the field of human centered design.

Students enroll in the series for credit with HCDE 521. Talks are 35 minutes, followed by 15 minutes of Q&A. Talks are recorded and posted to this webpage within 24 hours of the presentation. All talks are open to the public.

2016 Seminar Series

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Developing the Model of Coordinated Action (MoCA)

As computerized technologies and the practices they support continue to grow in diversity, ubiquity, complexity, and scale, the number and type of research topics related to the study of collaborative systems have simultaneously continued to proliferate. It has become increasingly urgent to find ways to describe the problem space of practitioners and researchers in Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW). If we are designing to support coordinated action we should know more about what coordinated action is, and furthermore, we should have better ways to talk about the variations among them. In this way, we might get closer to understanding what it means to design for sociotechnical systems that can be simultaneously socially and technically complex and are subject to frequent changes from both within and without. A conceptual grounding—e.g. theoretical framework—is needed to help us define and describe what it is that the field of CSCW actually studies. In order to further discussions in our field, this talk builds on the history of CSCW and discusses current work on the new conceptual model: the Model of Coordinated Action (MoCA). The practical implications of MoCA are that it may provide a shared way to find and talk about what we study in CSCW despite its electrifying and daunting diversity.

About Charlotte P. Lee
Dr. Charlotte P. Lee is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington and Director of the Computer Supported Collaboration Laboratory. Dr. Lee’s research is in the field of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) with a focus on studying cyberinfrastructure development as a way to understanding highly dynamic, emergent collaborations. Dr. Lee has been awarded an NIH grant, and five NSF-funded grants that study different aspects of collaboration in the development of cyberinfrastructures, including a National Science Foundation CAREER Award for junior faculty who exemplify the role of outstanding teacher-scholars awarded in 2010. She is also an Associate Editor of the Journal of Computer Supported Cooperative Work (JCSCW) and Co-chair of the upcoming CSCW 2017 conference.

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Designing for Tangible and Gesture Interaction

Interactive technology is increasingly integrated with physical objects that do not have a traditional keyboard and mouse style of interaction, and many do not even have a display. These objects require new approaches to interaction design, referred to as post-WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus, and Pointer) or as embodied interaction design. This presentation provides an overview of the design opportunities, issues, and methodologies associated with two embodied interaction modalities that allow us to leave the traditional keyboard behind: tangible and gesture interaction. This presentation is an overview of a book manuscript in which we explore the issues in designing for this new age of interaction through specific design examples: a reconceptualization of the traditional keyboard as a Tangible Keyboard, the design of interactive 3D models as Tangible Models, the design of gesture-based commands for a Walk-up-and-use Information Display, and the design of a gesture-based dialogue for the willful marionette.

About Mary Lou Maher
Dr. Mary Lou Maher, most recently a Senior Research Scientist in the iSchool at the University of Maryland and Honorary Professor of Design Computing in the Design Lab at the University of Sydney, is joining the College of Computing and Informatics as the Chair of the Department of Software and Information Systems. Mary Lou completed a BSc at Columbia University in 1979, and a MS and Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon University, completing the Ph.D. in 1984. As the Professor of Design Computing at the University of Sydney she was co-Director of the Key Centre of Design Computing and she established a new degree program: the Bachelor of Design Computing. While at the National Science Foundation (NSF) from 2006-2010, she was Deputy Director of the Information and Intelligent Systems Division and a Program Director. At NSF, she established the CreativeIT program and helped manage the Human Centered Computing, Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation, Design Science, and Social-Computational Systems Programs. While at the University of Maryland, she developed collaborative projects on crowdsourcing design for citizen science and introduced design thinking to graduate projects in information management.

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Heteromation and Other Stories of Computing and Capitalism

Although things seem to be getting ever more automated, in fact, labor is still the cornerstone of capitalism. In this talk Dr. Nardi will discuss “heteromation” — cheap or free labor extracted through our everyday computing activities such as social media, gaming, reviewing, citizen science, and services like Amazon Mechanical Turk. Computing technologies do not just save labor, they create labor. Heteromation is a new logic of accumulation, one that has enabled capital to continue its necessary growth. Dr. Nardi will discuss some of the social implications of heteromation, considering its dark side but also its positive potential for reshaping society.

About Bonnie Nardi
Dr. Bonnie Nardi's research interests include theory in human-computer interaction and computer-supported collaborative work; computer-mediated communication technologies; and studies of social life on the Internet. She specializes in the use of ethnographic methods to study technology. Her theoretical orientation is activity theory. She is author of numerous scientific articles and books. With Tom Boellstorff, Celia Pearce and T.L. Taylor, she is writing a book, Ethnography and Virtual Worlds: A Handbook of Method (Princeton University Press).

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Legacy, Technology, & Change

We live in a world of seemingly constant transformations in the technologies we use and rely on, e.g., the devices in our hands, the ways we travel from one location to another, or our methods of communication. And yet we also live with and manage the technologies of the past: our CDs (and increasingly our MP3s); our old documents, both paper and digital; and the twitchy oven in the kitchen. These challenges of managing old and new personal technologies are mirrored in the worlds of business, science and government: all must look to the new while retaining some of the old. Using the example of long-term research infrastructures, this presentation will examine the tensions of ever evolving information and communication technologies over the past decades, and the challenges (and advantages) of managing and sustaining legacy technologies. The talk will examine the 'modernist' vision that argues for sweeping away the past to replace it with the new, and elucidate sociotechnical strategies that seek to prepare and design for change. Ultimately, our knowledge of how to think and design for the long-term is an incomplete project; there is no single answer. Instead, this talk will seek to open a space for design and engineering that takes into consideration the long and often unpredictable arcs of social and technical change.

About David Ribes
Dr. David Ribes is an Associate Professor in the University of Washington's department of Human Centered Design & Engineering. His research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of sociology, philosophy and history, and he is a member of Science and Technology Studies (STS). His current investigations focus on the ecology of AIDS research infrastructures and the shifting sociotechnical architectures and transformations in information technologies that have guided and shaped HIV/AIDS science over the past 30 years. He is a principal investigator on several National Science Foundation awards and has also been a participant in National Institutes of Health and Sloan Foundation grants studying the activities of scientists, and exploring new patterns of distributed collaboration. He frequently speaks at conferences focused on research infrastructures as well as the organization and production of scientific knowledge.

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From Personal Data to Action: Making Personal Informatics Work

Fitness tracking devices, smartphone applications, and other tools that help people automatically track data about every facet of their lives are becoming increasingly prevalent. There are now more than 5,000 health tracking applications in the iOS app store, and many others for tracking data such as location, mood, productivity, and finances. Despite considerable interest in improving the collection aspect of self-tracking, there has been little research on how technology can improve the reflection aspect of self-tracking. Consequently, people are often overwhelmed by the data they collect, do not know what conclusions to draw, and become frustrated or discontinue use.

In this talk, Dr. Munson will discuss different ways that people use self-track technologies, with a particular focus on how people share their data to receive support, collaboratively interpret it, and act. By sharing with friends and peers, people can gain emotional and instrumental support, get advice, and find sources of accountability, but only if they share in ways that effectively engage their support networks. For harder to diagnosis or manage challenges, such as several chronic illnesses, people need to engage their health providers or other experts in their data. Current tools, however, do not adequately support this collaboration; Dr. Munson will discuss some promising directions for new tools.

About Sean A. Munson
Dr. Sean A. Munson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE). Munson received his PhD in 2012 at the University of Michigan's School of Information, where he studied the use of software to support positive behavior changes. Munson's work primarily focuses on the domains of political news and opinion access, and health and wellness. He was an Intel PhD fellow. Munson completed his BS in Engineering with a concentration in Systems Design at Olin College in 2006. At Olin, he was one of 30 students who spent a year developing the new college’s curriculum and student life programs before becoming part of the first-ever class. He has been a political blogger and, while working at Boeing, designed concepts for future passenger airplane interiors.

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Why Humans Should Care About Data Science

Extraordinary advances in our ability to acquire and generate data are transforming the fundamental nature of discovery across domains. Much of the research in data science has focused on automated methods of analyzing data such as machine learning and new database techniques. Less attention has been directed to the human aspects of data science, including how to build interactive tools that maximize creativity and human insight, and the ethics and societal factors involved in the next generation of data science discoveries. In this talk, Dr. Aragon will argue for the importance of a human centered approach to data science as necessary for the success of 21st century discovery. Further, she attests that we need to go beyond well-designed user interfaces for data science software tools to consider the entire ecosystem of software development and use: we need to study people interacting with technology as socio-technical systems, where both technical and social approaches are interwoven. Aragon will discuss promising research in this area, introduce the new Master's Degree in Data Science at UW, and speculate upon future directions for data science.

About Cecilia Aragon
Dr. Cecilia Aragon is Director of the Human Centered Data Science Lab, Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, and Senior Data Science Fellow at the eScience Institute at the University of Washington. She is Founding Co-Director of the new UW Data Science Master’s Program, which started its inaugural class in September 2016. Her research focuses on human-centered data science, an emerging field at the intersection of human-computer interaction (HCI) and the statistical and computational techniques of data science. In 2008, she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for her pioneering work in collaborative data science.

She has authored over 200 publications in data science, HCI, CSCW, visual analytics, machine learning, and astrophysics. Her research has been recognized with over $27M in grants from federal agencies, private foundations, and industry, and has garnered six Best Paper awards since 2004. She won the Distinguished Alumni Award in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 2013, the Faculty Innovator in Teaching Award from her department at UW that same year, and was named one of the Top 25 Women of 2009 by Hispanic Business Magazine. Aragon has an interdisciplinary background, including over 15 years of software development experience in industry and NASA, and a three-year stint as the founder and CEO of a small company.

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Stakeholder Understanding of Recovery from the 2010-2011 Canterbury Earthquake Sequence: From Decision-Driven Data-Making to Data-Driven Decision-Making

As one of the most data-rich disasters in history, the 2010-2011 Canterbury, New Zealand earthquake sequence provides a timely and valuable opportunity to examine an understudied topic: how major stakeholders attempt to comprehend the progress and impacts of the multiplicity of disaster recovery over time. A case study was conducted on Christchurch, New Zealand to gain insight into his topic. A team of five researchers interviewed 122 participants from 26 different government and private sector organizations across 45 meetings. Study participants included high-level users of data (e.g., decision-makers or those who requested the creation of the data) and the managers and creators of data. Four environments of recovery were used to facilitate recruitment of study participants: built environment, economic environment, social environment, and human environment. With respect to recovery sectors, 13 meetings dealt with the built environment, 11 dealt with social, eight dealt with economic, and eight dealt with human. The remainder of the meetings (five) were with stakeholders who managed or researched multiple sectors. Open-ended interviews were conducted based on the central question “How do you or your organization understand or monitor recovery from the Canterbury earthquake sequence?” The purpose of this focusing question was to encourage participants to think about and discuss the means used to interpret disaster recovery with respect to their responsibilities or interests. Thematic analysis was conducted on the qualitative data collected during interviews. Three major themes were identified—sharing and integrating; decision-driven data-making; data-driven decision-making—each with three corresponding concepts. The case study findings provide unique insights that can be used to interpret future disaster recovery monitoring and reporting activities. Case study findings can also inform alternatives for developing institutional and technological arrangements to facilitate future disaster recovery management and research.

About Scott Miles
Dr. Scott Miles is an expert on disaster risk reduction, community resilience, and lifeline infrastructure. He is currently a research scientist in the department of Human Centered Design and Engineering at University of Washington and a private consultant. As a social scientist with an engineering background, Dr. Miles has a strong foundation in both quantitative and qualitative analysis methods. Dr. Miles has received grant funding or contracts from the National Science Foundation, Natural Hazards Center, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, Washington State Emergency Management Division, Washington State Department of Ecology, King Count Office of Emergency Management, NOAA, and USGS, among others. Dr. Miles received his PhD in geography from University of Washington, where he studied the synergy between urban geography, geological hazards, disaster recovery, spatial simulation modeling, and collaborative process design. He received a post-graduate diploma from the University of Edinburgh in GIS, with a focus on environmental modeling. His MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering is from University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he focused on geotechnical earthquake engineering and numerical methods. An undergraduate degree in the same field was received from Washington State University.

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The future of Collective Innovation

Socio-technical infrastructure offers remarkable opportunities for improving innovation and the global economy by engaging geographically distributed and diverse individuals to identify, ideate, and implement new ideas, expanding the sources of innovation beyond the formal organization. But it is also possible that collective innovation will fail to achieve its potential by becoming increasingly professionalized potentially raising the expectations for participation and failing to reach out to diverse networks, undermining participation from individuals who participate. Can we foresee a future of collective innovation in which there is broad participation from identification to ideation and ultimately implementation? This position paper frames the major challenges that stand in the way of this goal. Drawing on theory from social computing and organizational theory, I outline a framework that will support collective innovation that is inclusive, collaborative, and comprehensive and highlight 5 challenge areas: Roles, Communication, Trust, Reputation, Feedback, and Job Design.

About Liz Gerber
Associate Professor of Design and Faculty Founder, Design for America
Dr. Liz Gerber serves as Associate Professor of Design in the School of Engineering and School of Communication, as Director of the Design Research Cluster, and as the Faculty Founder of Design for America at the Northwestern University. Dr. Gerber researches the role of technology and organization in the innovation process. Her work is generously funded by NSF, Microsoft, and the MacArthur Foundation. She received her PhD and MS in Management Science and Engineering and Product Design from Stanford University. Learn more about Dr. Gerber and her work at and connect with her on Twitter at @elizgerber.

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Considerations for the Connected Family

Societal ideas of family life and healthy child development increasingly include notions of the ways in which families should and should not engage with information and communication technologies. In this talk, I will discuss results from a series of studies from my research lab in which we investigate families’ current practices, values, aspirations, and fears in relation to their use of connected technologies. Computing can support families in a variety of ways, and novel systems to support family health and wellness can improve child-development outcomes and family well-being. Research from my lab has also found that families have a sense of ambivalence about their use of technology, driven in part by social narratives that portray it as a negative and intrusive presence in family life. I will close the presentation with twelve considerations for designing for connected families.

About Julie Kientz
Dr. Julie Kientz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering. She is also Director of the Computing for Healthy Living and Learning (CHiLL) Lab and is active in the University of Washington's Design Use Build (DUB) Group alliance. Her research interests are in the areas of human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, and health informatics. In particular, Kientz is interested in determining how novel computing applications can address important issues in health and education and evaluating those applications through long-term real world deployment studies using a balance of qualitative and quantitative methods. Her most recent research involves the design and evaluation of computing technologies to support parents tracking the developmental progress and health of their newborn children, individuals with sleep disorders, and families with children with autism. Kientz received her PhD in Computer Science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008 and her BS in Computer Science & Engineering from the University of Toledo in 2002. She was awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2009, named an MIT Technology Review Innovator Under 35 in 2013, and was given the UW College of Engineering Faculty Research Innovator award in 2014.

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Who Wants to Read This?!?

One key design feature of User Generated Content (UGC) systems is that they leverage the diverse contributions of the participants. The interests of the users of the system and their content contributions are likely to be of interest to other users of the system. One of the key design challenges for UGC systems is that they are designed to leverage the contributions of the participants. This is a challenge because the content contributed by the current set of participants might not represent the interests of a potentially growing audience of new users. For many UGC system understanding how existing content reflects the interests and biases of the participants is a difficult problem. In this talk, Dr. McDonald will describe a method for assessing the representativeness of UGC content based on the existence of that content in a target exogenous source. He will illustrate the method with two case studies that investigate how well the English language Wikipedia addresses the content interests of four sample audiences: readers of men’s and women’s periodicals, and readers of political periodicals geared toward either liberal or conservative ideologies. Preliminary findings from each case study are used to demonstrate the method.

About David W. McDonald
Dr. David W. McDonald is a Professor and Chair in the University of Washington's department of Human Centered Design & Engineering. David's research interests span computer supported cooperative work, human-computer interaction and social computing. He currently has ongoing projects to analyze and design facilitation mechanisms for mass interaction in large-scale online communities.