Thursday, May 19, 2011

Been checking out visualizations for personalized timeline

Testing out this visualization for browsing an activity stream. What do you guys think?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Joined Google!

In early February, I left PARC to start working at Google as a research scientist. To start out, I will report directly to Peter Norvig. This is obviously an exciting change for me, as I had dreamed of making a difference in people's lives with technology for many years, and Google is a great platform for making this happen.

I worked at PARC for 13 years, starting as an intern in 1997, and officially hired in 1999 and working up to Sr. Research Scientist in 2005, and becoming Area Manager of the Augmented Social Cognition group in 2007, and Principal Scientist sometime after that.

I first went to PARC following my dream to work at the famed research center, and to work with Stuart Card, who brought me on as a visualization and visual analytics researcher. Little did he know that I would become much more interested in web analytics, and I used visual analytics as a jumping board for getting involved with researchers such as Jim Pitkow and Peter Pirolli. I also must thank Peter Pirolli for inspiring me to be the researcher that I became during the years at PARC; he had been a partner-in-crime in getting social computing recognized as a important research direction for HCI at PARC.

Having visualized my professional network recently, one can see that it is filled with PARC researchers and alumni. I guess it is true that once you've been at PARC, you remain a PARC person for the rest of your life*!

Going forward, I will blog about research results here instead of the old ASC Team blog. Thanks for listening!

*It's worth noting that Eric Schmidt (soon ex-CEO for Google) is a PARC alumni.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Design vs. Technology

There is a good article over on BusinessWeek about the nature of technology vs. design thinking in the innovation process. Folks like Don Norman and PARC director Mark Bernstein commented. My commentary submitted as below:

Norman's conclusion comes from the view that technology tends to precede design thinking. That is, a new technique or technology is invented first, before design thinking takes over and refines it. Refinement requires the understanding of user needs, which is the focus of the design research. So the mobile phone and mobile communication is invented first, and took Apple to refine it into the iPhone experience. The invention of the mobile communication is the disruption, and the iPhone impact, while great, is a good refinement of the original invention.

But, the real world is messy, you'd say---sometimes the need precedes the invention, and other times it follows. I'd say "Yet other times, they co-evolve." The invention of laser printing is a good example of the need and the technology co-evolving. The need to mass produce paper documents had been around for a long time. But later as people started using computers, the need to translate graphics on the screen into marks on paper evolved at the same time. I suppose one could argue that Xerography was the invention, and laser printing was merely a refinement. We can go round and round on that debate and not get anywhere.

Ultimately, the measuring stick that we ought to use is the amount of impact each (tech vs. design) brings to the innovation process. The question is "How much impact does either design or technology eventually deliver?" I think Norman is mostly right. It is much easier to think of major disruptions coming from the technology side. Not many people (at least not the general public) thought about wanting a personal computer back in the 70s when it was being invented at PARC. To wit, that's why it we call it a "disruption"! It disrupts current ways of doing things. There is an element of surprise in the "disruption", suggesting that the need might not have been there yet.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mac vs. PC people

"Mac vs PC People: Personality Traits & Aesthetic/Media Choices" -- includes links to full report, which drew on aggregated data from 76,000 PC and Mac users that asked about aesthetic preferences, media choices, and personality traits

Their executive summary:

* Mac People are more likely to see the existing world in a light of “sameness” and thus express a need to be perceived as different and unique. PC People are more likely to see the world as “different enough already” and appreciate “being in tune with those around them.”

* Media choices and preferences vary greatly between the two groups, with Mac People trending toward more independent films, specialized comedians and design-centric magazines, and PC People trending toward more mainstream alternatives as well as sports.

* From a personality perspective, Mac People are more likely to describe themselves as “verbal”, “conceptual”, and “risk takers”, with PC People countering that they are “numbers oriented”, “factual” and “steady, hard workers”.

Fast Company points out that most of these differences can be attributed to the different computer manufacturers' marketing strategies.

And of course the whole report should be taken with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

newspapers (Tehrān)

newspapers (Tehrān)
Originally uploaded by birdfarm
I'm trying to really understand censorship if what this comment on this picture is saying is really true.

"Our Iranian-American guide told us that even though each newspaper is essentially the mouthpiece of a political party, and despite some government censorship, there is still a far broader range of opinions to be found in Iranian newspapers than there is in the mainstream newspapers in the US (because there are far more viable parties than in our two-party system).

Interesting, n'est-ce pas? "