Building a Better World via the User-Centered Design of Technology

Invited Technical Speaker: Mary Czerwinski, Research Area Manager Visualization and Interaction Group, Microsoft Research

The meta-view of this session is that there are many new and interesting ways present information visually. The speaker covered visual presentation of data from Social Media, Businesses and Entertainment communities.

There were three aspects of this presentation which struck me.
First, the presenter’s credentials were in psychology. As a geek without a CS degree, I found this comforting.

Second, the presenter believed that multi-tasking “hurts people”. That is, makes deep-thinking harder and supports shallow, disjointed thinking. Most interestingly for me, that people can learn more information more effectively visually. This is a very brave thing to talk about, since the old guard in Computer Science preaches that all information can be gained through text (at least that is the summary of arguments against cool interfaces like Alice).

Third, she told us that the challenge for the next 10 years for social computing is to integrate computing with social sciences, with other disciplines. This has been a big theme this Hopper starting with Fran Allen’s keynote. Fran Allen’s concerns and ideas, like those of many CS visionaries, is a bellwether for what other people are concerned about in CS. I believe this integration of Computer Science into many other disciplines will be a growth field in the future (not just because that is my interest :-D).

Three cool Social Media observations:

  1. People subconsciously make opinions about you very very quickly–the photo is a big deal. Found that people “don’t buy it” when you polish your profile *after* they have formed their first impression of you.
  2. Social Media provides a great deal more opportunities for self-representation.
  3. Advice for apps designers–what “sticks” is what is useful.

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