user license agreement that one must
accept to use a service or a Byzantine
set of confusing service configuration
options whose effects are less than obvious. Privacy specifications must be
made far simpler and more intuitive.
Third, I might wish to define a
claims-based access policy. This is not a
binary access specification, but rather
a statement that this person or this entity can access this photograph for this
and only this purpose. Thus, I might
grant my cousin the right to look at this
photograph, but not to sell, alter, or
combine it with other media.
Ownership, privacy, reputation, and
decision-making are intertwined in subtle ways. What if I posed for a reunion
photograph but one of my crazy cousins
was dancing on the table behind me?
Who controls that family reunion photograph—me, the drunken dancer in
the background, the photographer with
the smartphone, all of us? The shifting
nature of social relationships further exacerbates these challenges.
Let me end with another aphorism:
“Possession is nine-tenths of the law.”
In a digital world where images, video,
and text can proliferate globally in seconds, we need to rethink what “
I don’t have all the answers, but I do
have lots of questions.
Ed h. Chi
“on the importance
of Replication in hCi
and Social Computing
June 22, 2011
I was asked to serve as a panelist at the
CHI2011 conference to discuss the is-
sue of replication of research results.
As part of this RepliCHI panel, I wrote
an essay arguing that replication isn’t
just replication of experiments or re-
building of systems, but instead is
used as an important step in building
up greater understanding of a domain.
Many panelists, including myself, were
surprised when many people showed
up at the panel (more than 100?), ready
to discuss this seemingly dry academic
issue. Here is my essay, slightly edited:
One mainstream perspective on HCI is
that it is a discipline built upon applied
psychological science. “Psychologi-
cal science” here refers to the under-
standing of mind and behavior, while
“applied” here means that it is the ap-
plication of approaches of methods,
findings, models, and theories from
the psychology domain. One has to only
look at the CHI annual proceedings to
see that it is full of borrowed methods
from experimental psychology, a par-
ticular approach to understanding
mind and behavior based on scientific
experimental methods. This approach
worked well for HCI, since computers
can be seen as a kind of stimuli that
is not only interesting, but could aug-
ment cognition and intelligence.
In the first experiment, the results
were at odds with the 97 Browse Off.
Not only was there no difference between the browsers in terms of performance, it appears that subject variation
had more effect on the results than any
Further analyses showed there was
an interesting interaction effect between the amount of information scent
available via the interface conditions
and performance, with better information scent resulting in lower retrieval
task times with Hyperbolic Browser.
In the second experiment, when restricted to retrieval tasks rather than
also including comparison tasks, Hyperbolic Browser was faster, and users appeared to learn more of the tree
structure than with Explorer.
What’s interesting is the interpretation of the results suggests that squeezing more information on the screen
does not improve subjects’ perceptual
and search performance. Instead, the
experiment shows there is a very complex interaction between visual atten-tion/search with density of information of the display. Under high scent
conditions, information seems to “pop
out” in the Hyperbolic Browser, helping to achieve higher performance.
The above example shows there are
a number of fundamental problems
with viewing experimental results as
the end result of a line of research
inquiry. Instead, they are often the
beginning. Further experiments often shed light on the complex interaction between the mind/behaviors of
the user and the system. Replication/
duplication of results and further research efforts examining other contexts and variables are not just desirable, but are an important part of the
whole scientific exercise.
1. engelbart, d.C., augmenting human intellect: a
conceptual framework, 1962.
2. lamping, J., rao, r., and Pirolli, P., a focus + context
technique based on hyperbolic geometry for
visualizing large hierarchies, aCM Conference on
human Factors in Computing systems, 1995.
3. Pirolli, P., Card, s.k., and Van der Wege, M.M. the
effect of information scent on searching information:
visualizations of large tree structures, Proceedings
of the Working Conference on Advanced Visual
Interfaces, n.y., n.y., 2000.
Daniel Reed is vice president, technology strategy &
Policy and eXtreme Computing group, Microsoft.
Ed h. Chi is a research scientist at google.