TOCHI Article Alert: The To-and-Fro of Sense Making: Supporting Users’ Active Indexing in Museums

The To-and-Fro of Sense Making: Supporting Users’ Active Indexing in Museums

Given my childhood fascination with saurians of the Jurassic epoch, it’s hard to go wrong with an article that features an installation named the Jurasoscope as one of its principal objects of study, along with a generous helping of illustrations that prominently feature dinosaur bones.

With these (and many other) richly grounded artifacts, the authors investigate the phenomenon of ‘indexing’—that is, the mindful referencing back and forth between here and there, connecting objects and representations—in great depth. The scholarship in this article is wonderful, drawing numerous and varied connections throughout the human-computer interaction literature (and beyond), while unpacking in great depth carefully considered and deeply nuanced aspects of these behaviors.

As such I suspect this article has great potential to cross-fertilize insights well beyond the heritage and museum context that serves as its primary focus. To name just one example, I was struck by the possibility that these insights could inform the back-and-forth of reading and writing characteristic of active reading, an area that (given my inclinations as a reader, writer, and vagabond of digital pen-and-tablet experiences) has long lurked at the nexus of my intellectual passions.

So I strongly encourage you to check out this article, as well, because I suspect the work offers many more latent connections and potentials of this sort for the curious and probing mind.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2882785).

 

TOCHI Article Alert: People Do Not Feel Guilty About Exploiting Machines

I was impressed by the depth of thought and analysis that went into all of the contributions in this issue of TOCHI.

Three of the articles exceed fifty pages, often with rich illustrations, and through a concise and expertly paced presentation even the shortest article in this issue—a rare example of a TOCHI contribution that clocks in under 20 manuscript pages—packs a powerful punch:

 

People Do Not Feel Guilty About Exploiting Machines

With the recent defeat of the 18-time world Go champion at the hands of our would-be artificial overlords, I suppose not many people are feeling particularly guilty about the possibility of exploiting machines at the moment.

Yet well-established results show that people react to computers as social entities, and as such feelings of guilt and envy—and the extent to which they may or may not manifest themselves—have an important role to play in a compelling vision of the future where man and machine are not pitted against one another, but rather take on complementary roles that promise bring out the very best in human ability.

This article presents two provocative studies that show people experience similar levels of envy for humans as they do for machines in the context of three different economic games (the public goods, ultimatum, and dictator games)—yet people experience considerably less guilt vis-a-vis machines. The authors discuss the theoretic and practical implications of these findings for human-machine interaction systems that manifest cooperation, fairness, reciprocity, and other desirable properties of human-human interaction.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2890495).

 

TOCHI Article Alert: Mass Interaction in Social Television

The final paper of TOCHI Issue 23:1 presents the first large-scale study of real-world mass interactions in social TV, by studying the key motives of users for participating in side-channel commentaries when viewing major sporting events online.

The large scale of the study (analysis of nearly six million chats, plus a survey of 1,123 users) allows the investigators to relate these motives to diverse usage patterns, leading to practical design suggestions that can be used to support user interactions and to enhance the identified motives of users—such as emotional release, cheering and jeering, and sharing thoughts, information, and feelings through commentary.

On a personal level, as a long-time resident of Seattle I certainly could have benefitted from these insights during last year’s Super Bowl—where yes, in the armchair-quarterback opinion of this Editor-in-Chief, the ill-fated Seahawks should indeed have handed the ball to Marshawn Lynch.

Alas. There is always next year.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2843941).

TOCHI Article Alert: Auditory Display in Mobile Augmented Reality

Another intriguing effort in TOCHI 23:1 delves into augmented reality of a somewhat unusual sort, namely augmentation of mobile and situated interaction via spatialized auditory cues.

A carefully structured study, designed around enhancing interactive experiences for exhibits in an art gallery, teases apart some of the issues that confront realities augmented in this manner, and thereby offers a much deeper understanding of both the strengths and weaknesses of various ways of presenting spatialized auditory feedback.

As such this article contributes a great foundation for appropriate design of user experiences augmented by this oft-neglected modality.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2829944).

 

TOCHI Article Alert: Two Papers on Brain-Computer Interaction in Issue 23:1

There’s lots to please the eye, ear, and mind in TOCHI Issue 23:1.

And I mean that not only figuratively—in terms of nourishing the intellect—but quite literally, in terms of those precious few cubic centimeters of private terrain residing inside our own skulls.

Because brain-computer interaction (BCI) forms a major theme of Issue 23:1. The possibility of sensing aspects of human perception, cognition, and physiological states has long fascinated me—indeed, the very term “brain-computer interaction” resonates with the strongest memes that science fiction visionaries can dish up—yet this topic confronts us with a burgeoning scientific literature.

* * *

The first of these articles presents an empirical study of phasic brain wave changes as a direct indicator of programmer expertise.

It makes a strong case that EEG-based measures of cognitive load, as it relates to expertise, can be observed directly (rather than through subjective assessments) and accurately measured when specifically applied to program comprehension tasks.

By deepening our ability to understand and to quantify expertise, the paper makes significant inroads on this challenging problem.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2829945).

* * *

The second BCI article explores ways to increase user motivation through tangible manipulation of objects and implicit physiological interaction, in the context of sound generation and control.

The work takes an original tack on the topic by combining explicit gestural interaction, via the tangible aspects, with implicit sensing of biosignals, thus forging an intriguing hybrid of multiple modalities.

In my view such combinations may very well be a hallmark of future, more enlightened approaches to interaction design—as opposed to slapping a touchscreen with “natural” gestures on any sorry old device we decide to churn out, and calling it a day.

(http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2838732).

The Editor’s Spotlight: Navigating Giga-pixel Images in Digital Pathology

For the first article to highlight in the freshly-conceived Editor’s Spotlight, from TOCHI Issue 23:1 I selected a piece of work that strongly reminded me of the context of some of my own graduate research, which took place embedded in a neurosurgery department. In my case, our research team (consisting of both physicians and computer scientists) sought to improve the care of patients who were often referred to the university hospital with debilitating neurological conditions and extremely grave diagnoses.

When really strong human-computer interaction research collides with real-world problems like this, in my experience compelling clinical impact and rigorous research results are always hard-won but in the end they are well worth the above-and-beyond efforts required to make such interdisciplinary collaborations fly.

And the following TOCHI Editor’s Spotlight paper, in my opinion, is an outstanding example of such a contribution.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT:

Navigating Giga-pixel Images in Digital Pathology

The diagnosis of cancer is serious business, yet in routine clinical practice pathologists still work on microscopes, with physical slides, because digital pathology runs up against many barriers—not the least of which are the navigational challenges raised by panning and zooming through huge (and I mean huge) image datasets on the order of multiple gigapixels. And that’s just for a single slide.

Few illustrations grace the article, but those that do—

They stop the reader cold.

Extract from a GI biopsy, showing malignant tissue at 400x magnification. (Fig. 3)

The ruddy and well-formed cells of healthy tissue from a GI biopsy slowly give way to an ill-defined frontier of pathology, an ever-expanding redoubt for the malignant tissue lurking deep within. One cannot help but be struck by the subtext that these images represent the lives of patients that face a dire health crisis.

Only by finding, comparing, and contrasting this tissue to other cross-sections and slides—scanned at 400x magnification and a startling 100,000 dots per inch—can the pathologist arrive at a correct and accurate diagnosis as to the type and extent of the malignancy.

This article stands out because it puts into practice—and challenges—accepted design principles for the navigation of such gigapixel images, against the backdrop of real work by medical experts.

These are not laboratory studies that strive for some artificial measure of “ecological validity”—no, here the analyses take place in the context of the real work of pathologists (using archival cases) and yet the experimental evaluations are still rigorous and insightful. There is absolutely no question of validity and the stakes are clearly very high.

While the article focuses on digital pathology, the insights and perspectives it raises (not to mention the interesting image navigation and comparison tasks motivated by clinical needs) should inform, direct, and inspire many other efforts to improve interfaces for navigation through large visualizations and scientific data-sets.

 


Roy Ruddle, Thomas Rhys, Rebecca Randell, Phil Quirke, and Darren Treanor. 2016. The Design and Evaluation of Interfaces for Navigating Gigapixel Images in Digital Pathology. ACM Trans. Comput.-Hum. Interact. 23, 1, Article 5 (February 2015), 29 pages. DOI= http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2834117