GVU Brown Bag: CHI Preview Talks

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Summary Sentence: Previews of Georgia Tech students' presentations for CHI 2010.

Full Summary: Speakers: Susan Wyche, Marshini Chetty, Thomas Smythe, and Ben Medler

Susan P. Wyche: Deliberate Interactions: Characterizing Technology Use in Nairobi, Kenya

We present results from a qualitative study examining how professionals living and working in Nairobi, Kenya regularly use ICT in their everyday lives. There are two contributions of this work for the HCI community. First, we provide empirical evidence demonstrating constraints our participants encountered when using technology in an infrastructure-poor setting. These constraints are limited bandwidth, high costs, differing perceptions of responsiveness, and threats to physical and virtual security. Second, we use our findings to critically evaluate the “access, anytime and anywhere” construct shaping the design of future technologies. We present an alternative vision called deliberate interactions—a planned and purposeful interaction style that involves offline preparation—and discuss ways ICT can support this online usage behavior.

Marshini Chetty: Who's Hogging the Bandwidth: The Consequences of Revealing the Invisible in the Home

As more technologies enter the home, householders are burdened with the task of digital housekeeping—managing and sharing digital resources like bandwidth. In response to this, we created and evaluated a domestic tool for bandwidth management called Home Watcher. Our field trial showed that when resource contention amongst different household members is made visible, people‟s understanding of bandwidth changes and household politics are revealed. In this paper, we describe the consequences of showing real time resource usage in a home, and how this varies depending on the social make up of the household.

Thomas N. Smyth: MOSES: Exploring New Ground in Media and Post-Conflict Reconciliation

While the history of traditional media in post-conflict peace building efforts is rich and well studied, the potential for interactive new media technologies in this area has gone unexplored. In cooperation with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia, we have constructed a novel interactive kiosk system, called MOSES, for use in that country’s post-conflict reconciliation effort. The system allows the sharing of video messages between Liberians throughout the country, despite the presence of little or no communications infrastructure. In this paper, we describe the MOSES system, including several innovative design elements. We also present a novel design methodology we employed to manage the various distances between our design team and the intended user group in Liberia. Finally, we report on a qualitative study of the system with 27 participants from throughout Liberia. The study found that participants saw MOSES as giving them a voice and connecting them to other Liberians throughout the country; that the system was broadly usable by low-literate, novice users without human assistance; that the embodied conversational agent used in our design shows considerable promise; that users generally ascribed foreign involvement to the system; and that the system encouraged heavily group-oriented usage.

Ben Medler: The Implications of Improvisational Acting and Role-Playing on Design Methodologies

For decades designers have used theatre metaphors to describe design methodologies and have used performance techniques to enhance the design process, two of which are improvisational acting and role-playing. Unfortunately, most design literature does not differentiate between these two practices even while using them in combination with various design methods. This paper discusses how improvisation and role-playing have been employed during the design process and why they are distinct from one another. The authors draw upon their current research involving improvisational acting and compare it with other role-playing research which examines role-playing from both a serious and entertainment angle. They conclude through this comparison that both performance techniques have their place in the design process and that more informed definitions of each technique can aid designers in deciding which technique’s properties will benefit them the most.


Susan Wyche is a Human-Centered Computing Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research investigates how technology can support a more diverse range of activities than it currently does and how computing use varies among different cultural groups. In her dissertation, she uses religion as a lens to investigate technology use in different cultures. To do this she has conducted design-oriented fieldwork in the U.S., Kenya and Brazil. Prior to returning to school, she worked as a professional industrial designer in the housewares industry. She has also worked as a design researcher for Intel’s User-Centered Design Group, Microsoft Research and S.C. Johnson Inc. Susan has master’s degree from Cornell University and an undergraduate degree in Industrial Design from Carnegie Mellon University. For more information about Susan's research visit:http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~spwyche/.

Marshini Chetty is a Human-Centered Computing PhD candidate, hailing from South Africa originally. She received her Computer Science masters and bachelors degrees from the University of Cape Town in 2005, and 2002. Her research focuses on understanding how people deal with everyday digital housekeeping in their homes. To this end, she has studied households in Atlanta, Seattle, and Cambridge UK. Currently, she is conducting a field study of Kermit, a visual home network prototype to open up design ideas for future domestic tools and technologies. Her other interests include sustainability and human computer interaction for development.

Thomas Smyth is a Ph.D student in the Technologies and International Development Lab at GVU. His research focuses on new media technologies and public discourse in the developing world. His recent projects include developing novel media technologies for post-conflict reconciliation in Liberia, and investigating media sharing practices in urban India.

Ben Medler is a third year Ph.D. student in the Digital Media program focusing on video game studies. He worked for two years with Dr. Brian Magerko of LCC studying improvisational actors, exploring their behavioral habits and cognitive processes on stage. The focus of this work is to build virtual agents that can algorithmically improvise and think creatively, which has implications for a number of applications including digital games. In addition to his work with improv actors, Ben's thesis revolves around game analytics, the practice of collecting and analyzing data collected from gameplay, and implications that arise from disseminating gameplay information.

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GVU Center, College of Computing, School of Interactive Computing

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