From November 2012 on, I’m a research scientist at Yahoo! Labs in Sunnyvale, California. I work in the Mobile Innovations Group, where I focus on location-based mobile interactions and adaptivity. Looking forward to all of my new collaborations and great new projects!
Posted in work
Work – city-trip combo achieved! Together with Karen Church I’m organizing a location-based recommendations workshop at RecSys on September 9th. Instead of sitting indoors and just chatting, we’re going to have way more fun and run around hunting for the best places in Dublin.
During the workshop we’ll spend half a day exploring Dublin through local recommendations, on-the-spot. We’ll be using commercial recommenders, and any services that participants themselves may have built – and we’ll explore what’s great, what’s missing, and where our research should be heading. More info & info on joining in at loca.mobilelifecentre.org.
We like maps, cities and pins; and we’re collecting interesting links, pics and projects on our Drawing the City pinterest board. Currently over 70 links of stuff that’s cool if you’re into urban mapping. Regular project updates: drawingthecity.org.
Launching mobile research apps? Digging through big data from mobile services? Want to share experiences, methods and techniques? Join us for our third Research in the Large workshop at MobileHCI’12 in San Francisco!
Submit your app and/or data experiences: large.mobilelifecentre.org. Deadline May 25th, Workshop Sept 21st.
Also, our Research in the Large 1.0 special issue in the International Journal of Mobile Human Computer Interaction has been out for a while. (Preface here, all articles after the break)
Posted in work
Tagged mobile, research
Last summer I spent some time working with Frank Bentley at Motorola Mobility in Chicago. Our quest: finding out how people view their cities. In the 60′s and 70′s researchers such as Milgram and Lynch already showed that people’s mental maps of cities differ from – and go beyond – the actual physical layout of cities.We decided to revisit some of their classic methods in our Drawing the City project. As a first study, over 80 people drew us a map of ‘their Chicago’, and gave us an insight in their perceptions of the different city neighborhoods. The first note on the study’s results will be presented at CHI’12 in the spring.
A preview: while tourists tended to focus on visual highlights, residents were much more focused on drawing neighborhoods, streets, or transit routes. When asked directly, public transport was reported as the most essential feature of the city by a quarter of the participants, but interestingly, almost never included in their map of ‘their Chicago’. Parks and arts were the most common elements represented in both resident and tourist maps, with relatively few nightlife and food-related places drawn. More, including perceptions of ‘dangerous’ neighborhoods and correlations with modes of transport and technology use, in: Frank Bentley, Henriette Cramer, Santosh Basapur, William Hamilton. Drawing the city: differing perceptions of the urban environment. Proc. CHI’12, Austin, Texas.
During the coming weeks we’ll be following up with a second edition of the study, this time in Stockholm.
Project updates: drawingthecity.com
Within the location theme of the Mobile 2.0 project, we’ve been producing quite some mash-ups on top of existing services like foursquare. Using existing services to build apps certainly has advantages in terms of development burden, and can leverage their popularity and existing user bases. Using services as materials however does have consequences that go beyond the technical realm, and are not necessarily about the API alone – especially in a research context.
Using mashups is research means being dependent on other services, and publicly releasing mashups means giving up the control you may have in smaller-scale studies. APIs change, services go down, and you might have to adapt the experience you were planning to offer. A service is more than just its API; they are part of businesses, with goals, PR strategies – and people. Services have target audiences, and have usage cultures that should fit your purposes.
In short, using existing services as materials has been very useful for us, but does require understanding your material. More about the various considerations in using mash-ups for research and our experiences in this position paper.
Location-sharing has been a UbiComp topic for over 20 years, but services like foursquare and Gowalla have been taking off only recently in comparison. Tech and commercial aspects, including the proliferation of mobile devices of course play a role here, but most popular location-sharing services also have an interaction model different from most early research systems. They use manual ‘check-ins’ to pair user location with semantically named venues (rather than tracking), they mix public and private sharing with venues being visible to all users, location is shared with a potentially very large audience via multiple social media channels, and they employ incentives such as gamification elements and discounts.
As part of our location-sharing research, we’ve been taking a ‘performative’ view on check-ins on foursquare, and explore how these specific design elements facilitate emergent, and sometimes conflicting, social norms (not) to check-in. Read more in our MobileHCI’11 paper here.
Interested mostly in gamification elements? Shorter paper ‘Gamification and location-sharing: some emerging social conflicts’ presented at the Gamification workshop at CHI’11 here.