And We Award the Inaugural TOCHI Best Paper Award, 2016, to…



We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog posts for a special message from TOCHI’s Editor-in-Chief, Ken Hinckley, who shares with us some breaking news…


Banner for ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction Best Paper Award, 2016

And yesthank you, because indeed a very special moment in the history of the TOCHI journal has arrived, and herein we unveil the inaugural…


ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction

Best Paper Award

— 2016 —  

So sit back, grab some popcorn (and perhaps a beverage of your choosing), and enjoy the festivities.


With the Full Red Carpet Treatment. Of course, on such a celebratory occasion, we must roll out a luxuriant red promenade.

For a fleeting moment, we even considered a military parade for this inaugural occasion. But budgets being what they are, the best we could afford turned out to be a brigade of “Reviewer 2’s” armed with sharp red pens. To be brutally honest we feared this would not go over well, to say the least, and so all such plans were scrapped forthwith.

And with the reality of the publishing industry (as of early 2017) being what it is, our “red” carpet, I am afraid, must be printed solely in black and white.

Furthermore, rather than a plush walkway, the substrate upon which we must strut our stuff is much more akin to recycled newsprint.

But what a venue it is!

Okay, enough fun for now.

So let me set the stage for the award, and in so doing, switch to what my wife calls, my serious voice…

Because it takes incredibly hard work to get into TOCHI, and many notable HCI researchers have published their work in our pages. Even more important, I think, is the wave of up-and-comers in the field who are constantly breaking new ground. We are honored to have played a small role in building their careers, and publication credentials, as well.

TOCHI plays a vital role in the HCI community because it offers a forum for results that sprawl beyond the tidy boxes, tied up with neat satin bows, that can sometimes come to dominate typical conference papers. I’ve certainly written my fair share of those (only without the neatness, and often with some loose ends in those bows as well…). And of course there is nothing wrong with the “typical” conference-paper type of contribution, but by the same token it’s really important that the field has venues for results that are “out of the box” in a sense—and indeed, that span multiple boxes in the form of cross-discipline work, as well.

In that regard, the article we’ve selected for our 2016 Best Paper award is a great representative of the field. It reports on an interdisciplinary effort that advances the needs of a particular user community, but in so doing pushes on boundaries of interaction design and computer science as well. In order to build the system the authors embarked upon, the research had to upend some conventional wisdom regarding image navigation and innovate new interaction techniques along the way.

So (drum roll please), without further ado…


The recipient of the 2016 TOCHI Best Paper Award is:


The Design and Evaluation of

Interfaces for Navigating Gigapixel Images

in Digital Pathology


Roy A. Ruddle             School of Computing, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Rhys G. Thomas          School of Computing, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Rebecca Randell         School of Healthcare, University of Leeds, UK

Philip Quirke               Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, University of Leeds, UK

Darren Treanor           St James’ University Hospital, Leeds, UK, and
Leeds Institute of Cancer and Pathology, University of Leeds, UK


ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
Volume 23, No. 1, Article 5 (February 2015): 29 pages.

For this fine accomplishment, each of the authors will receive a physical manifestation of the award, which looks something like the following:

 Plaque for the inaugural TOCHI Best Paper Award, 2016

And just to pique your interest in this fine work just a bit further, the following abstract characterizes the work in the authors’ own words:

 This article describes the design and evaluation of two generations of an interface for navigating datasets of gigapixel images that pathologists use to diagnose cancer.

The interface design is innovative because users panned with an overview:detail view scale difference that was up to 57 times larger than established guidelines, and 1 million pixel “thumbnail” overviews that leveraged the real estate of high-resolution workstation displays.

The research involved experts performing real work (pathologists diagnosing cancer), using datasets that were up to 3,150 times larger than those used in previous studies that involved navigating images. The evaluation provides evidence about the effectiveness of the interfaces and characterizes how experts navigate gigapixel images when performing real work. Similar interfaces could be adopted in applications that use other types of high-resolution images (e.g., remote sensing or high-throughput microscopy).

Check it out. You’ll be glad you did. By the time you read this, the article should be available in the ACM Digital Library for open-access—sporting a spiffy new award badge no less—at:

Updated Call-for-Papers: Re-imagining Participatory Design

[This special issue call is now closed to new submissions.]

 Schedule and Submission Details

Pre-Submission Abstract Due: Sept 15, 2016  Jan 5, 2017 (email to
Full Manuscript Submission deadline: Oct 05, 2016  Jan 23, 2017 (must submit to:

Author Notification (first round): Jan 10, 2017  April 27, 2017
Revisions due: March 1, 2017  June 27, 2017
Author Notification (second round):  May 10, 2017  Sept 20, 2017
Final revisions due: Aug 10, 2017  Oct 15, 2017
Special Issue Published: Late 2017 (estimated)  January 2018 (Vol 25, Issue 1)


Please refer to the full text of the call for details on submitting to this special issue.

A Quick Update on the TOCHI Editorial Board

The TOCHI journal continues to strive for greater heights.

And in recent events, as an institution it has grown far wiser as well.

Because I am happy to report that four illustrious new members have graciously accepted my invitation to serve on the Editorial Board:

Pourang P. Irani (University of Manitoba);

  — Per Ola Kristensson (University of Cambridge);

  — Wendy E. Mackay (Université de Paris-Sud); and

  — Albrecht Schmidt (University of Stuttgart).

Each of them are accomplished innovators, lecturers, and researchers—if not a force of nature in their own right—and I’m very excited for the vision and guidance they will all bring to the board. And these reinforcements arrive just in time, too, as TOCHI is on a record pace for new submissions this year, with manuscript #155 having just entered the queue as of mid-July.

And that doesn’t even count the revisions.

So needless to say, there’s plenty of editorial work to go around. Our average response time continues to hew to about 50 days, although admittedly this obscures a highly bimodal distribution: we decline many submissions within a few days, while those that go through full external reviews usually take longer. We strive to issue a decision letter within 90 days, but that isn’t always possible—especially during the summer, when almost all prospective reviewers (somehow having the gall to enjoy their sunny holidays) tend make themselves rather scarce!

And if your manuscript has been with us for more than 90 days, please do feel free to query so that we can check on its status. Such queries, when necessary, often constitute a useful prod to stir reviewers and editors (including myself!) to imminent action.

Perhaps now is also a good time to remind everyone, oh ye of the faithful TOCHI readership, that 2016 will herald the first annual TOCHI Best Paper Award. We expect to make our selection(s) in early 2017, with all papers published in Volume 23 being eligible. I would love to receive your nominations for our best papers published in 2016, to be sure they receive full due consideration for the award. Just drop us a line at And please do include a brief statement as to why you think the paper is especially deserving—that may be just the thing necessary to push it over the top, given the consistent excellence of all the work that we publish.

Call for Papers: Re-imagining Participatory Design

A Special Issue of ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (ACM TOCHI)

Update! Due to the overlap with the CHI 2017 conference submissions timeline — as well as a late-breaking shift in our plans for our 2017 issues — we have decided to push this special issue out a little bit.

Submissions will now be due in Jan 2017 per the updated timeline below.

Deadline for Submissions (see author’s instructions):


We seek original contributions for a Special Issue of TOCHI on Reimagining Participatory Design (PD).

In particular, we seek research contributions that address the potentials and failures of participatory design in pursuing its democratizing project in emerging Information Technology (IT) domains. We solicit research papers that open up new horizons in Participatory Design for the field, or critically examine successes and failures of the past. Conceptual, methodological, and empirical papers are welcome.

When participatory design related to information technology in the workplace emerged in the 1970s, it sought to rebalance power and agency among managers and workers. Today’s Information Technology domains are more heterogeneous and less defined, and in many new contexts, it is difficult to bring sociotechnical conflicts into the open, whereby stakeholders are empowered to participate. As a result, power and agency seems to have gravitated away from end users and other stakeholders to government and multinational agencies.

Meanwhile, participatory design often seems to have become synonymous with a more neutral form of ‘user-centered’ design, concentrating on more local issues of usability and user satisfaction.

This is in contrast to earlier work in the field where Participatory Design not only sought to incorporate users in design, but also to intervene upon situations of conflict through developing more democratic processes.

This special issue extends an invitation to think boldly about the future of participatory design.

As guidance for possible topics for special issue contributions, we ask questions including (but not limited to) the following:

  • How are Information Technology systems today embedded in, or embodying, political conflicts such that Participatory Design could make a positive contribution?
  • What is (or should be) the role of Participatory Design in new computing contexts, including makers, ubiquitous computing, robotics, Internet of Things, cultural and creative industries, and other emerging trends?
  • How do we make sense of, and enact change in global coordination protocols that embody problematic power relations and scant worker protection? (e.g., crowdsourcing models such as Amazon Mechanical Turk.)
  • In what ways has participatory design failed to give voice to the marginal? How has it ignored, coopted, homogenized marginal voices? How might it do better?
  • How does, should, or could Participatory Design intersect with critical design, speculative design, feminist HCI, action research, design fictions, HCI for peace, and so forth?
  • How can Participatory Design help designers move from helping people do what they are already doing towards helping them make better decisions in future projects?




Abstracts due Sept 15, 2016 Jan 5, 2017. We strongly recommend informal submission of abstracts to the special issue editors at

Final manuscripts are due Oct 05, 2016 Jan 23, 2017, but earlier submissions are encouraged.


Please direct inquiries regarding the special issue to


Special Issue Editors:

  • Liam Bannon (University of Limerick and Aarhus University)
  • Jeffrey Bardzell (Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing)
  • Susanne Bødker (Aarhus University & Associate Editor, TOCHI)


Schedule and Submission Details

Pre-Submission Abstract Due: Sept 15, 2016  Jan 5, 2017 (email to
Full Manuscript Submission deadline: Oct 05, 2016  Jan 23, 2017 (must submit to:

Author Notification (first round): Jan 10, 2017  April 27, 2017
Revisions due: March 1, 2017  June 27, 2017
Author Notification (second round):  May 10, 2017  Sept 20, 2017
Final revisions due: Aug 10, 2017  Oct 15, 2017
Special Issue Published: Late 2017 (estimated)  January 2018 (Vol 25, Issue 1)



All contributions will be rigorously peer reviewed to the usual exacting standards of TOCHI. Further information, including TOCHI submission procedures and advice on formatting and preparing manuscripts, can be found at:

Manuscripts are submitted via the ACM online manuscript system at:

This is an abridged version of the call for publicity purposes. See for full details.

Please note that TOCHI remains open to regular submissions, as well, throughout the special issue call.

Updated Timeline for Special Issue on “End User Development for the Internet of Things”

Please note that our deadline for the TOCHI Special Issue on End User Development for the Internet of Things has changed.

Updated Timeline:

We have adjusted the deadline for this special issue slightly, with a new submissions deadline of April 05, 2016.

But to assist with our planning, please email us your title and abstract (500 words maximum) detailing your planned contribution by March 22, 2016.

Abstracts will not be reviewed and authors are free to further revise them in the final full-manuscript submission. The abstract deadline will not be strictly enforced but is strongly encouraged so that we can marshal appropriate editorial and reviewing resources.

So to recap, the dates are:

The April 05, 2016 due date is a hard deadline and will not be changed again. So please do hit the deadline if you want your contribution to be considered for this exciting special issue.

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.


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.



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.


* * *

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.


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.


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=





Introducing “The Editor’s Spotlight”

In a new feature, as the Editor-in-Chief I will offer up some thoughts on select papers as they appear in the pages of TOCHI (or to be more precise, as they grace the ACM’s digital library, given our desire to turn-around accepted manuscripts to the research community as quickly as possible—not to mention the electronic-first nature of publishing these days). And in addition, I will always strive to give an overview of all the content in each issue, to the extent possible.

But before I unshutter the brilliant beacon for the first time, with Issue 23:1 as its deserving focus, let me briefly set the context:

The purpose of these spotlight editorials is to help frame the contributions of the research that we publish in the wider context of the field.

As well as to direct attention to articles that may be of especial interest.

That, of course, serves not only our readers but also our authors—all of them—because by implication, bringing attention to our great content raises the profile of the entire journal.

By highlighting certain articles my intent is not to suggest that others are not worthy of your attention. Far from it. Every article we publish has received exquisite attention from our Editorial Board, so the TOCHI brand in and of itself tells you that the content is always absolutely sterling.

Hence these are not critical reviews or critiques. These articles have already passed the gauntlet of rigorous peer review, and so my purpose here is to help guide our readers as to the nature and importance of the contributions we publish.

As such, my hope is that both newcomers to the field of human-computer interaction (who may be missing some of the implicit framing and motivation that underlies many papers) as well as seasoned practitioners and students of HCI (who may be quickly scanning the journal’s contents to see what catches their eye) can benefit from these remarks and reflections.

As well, astute authors-to-be can perhaps gain a few insights as to what level of contribution is necessary to pass muster at the journal—not to mention the ways of conveying one’s results that tend to best resonate with TOCHI’s reviewers and our Editorial Board.

To fully absorb and appreciate both the strengths and limitations of each article’s scientific contributions one must read them in detail, of course, as I hope you will be moved to do when one of these catches your eye—and as they originally did my own.

Just follow the “DOI” link immediately after each paper to view it directly in the ACM Digital Library.

You can be the first to see these commentaries on the TOCHI News page (, which I urge you to follow. Please do help spread the word for those TOCHI articles that pique your interest.

And of course, all of your individual downloads, subscriptions, and citations are the loose change in the treasury of the journal’s impact.

But they compound over time and slowly accumulate great intellectual riches.


The first Editor’s Spotlight will follow this post shortly. Stay tuned. We will also issue Article Alerts for all of our other great content.