Using Information: New Technologies, Ways & Means

A blog for people interested in contributing to the HICSS-40 minitrack on Using Information: New Technologies...

Friday, March 31, 2006

Notice the permanent links

I'm putting a few links to relevant web pages over on the left-hand nav space of this blog. If you look under Permanent Links you'll find a few links to web pages that should be of help in putting together a paper for the HICSS conference.

In particular, I've added a link to the standard HICSS MS-Word paper template. Note that this is NOT the official template for HICSS-40 (2007), but is intended only for guidelines purposes.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Screencasts -- educational video to the people?

I've been thinking about screencasts, a relatively new trend on the web to create short movies, usually screen captures delivered onto the web in some video format. When they're well-done, it's a marvelous technique for getting an idea across quickly and effectively.

The screencast that started me thinking was Jon Udell’s brilliant screencast on the evolution of the Wikipedia entry “heavy metal umlaut” (8.5 mins)

It's a great commentary on the social behavior of Wikipedia users, but also about how a short screencast in the hands of a talented observer can yield marvelous results.

Jon has also written a great article about screencasting

What’s appealing is the immediacy – you don’t have to wait around to get to the meat. Plus, there’s LOTS of context, the stuff that usually gets left out of normal written texts. (“Oh.. you forgot to mention that this only works in Firefox, but I can see that in your screencast!”) Often UI instructions become immediately clear through action. On the screencast I can see that it’s the third green tab from the left (not counting the grayed-out tab) that should be selected. It takes less time to watch it that it does to read it. There are different ways to create screencasts. I like embedded streaming Flash movies best, as they seem most seamless and well-integrated into the web page. On the other hand, Quicktime movies (.MOV) have the "scrubbing" feature in their controller. I don't know why other player controllers don't have this, it's amazingly useful to be able to slide back and forth, scanning for something you'd seen in the movie.

Do the obvious web search for [ screencast ] and follow this up yourself.

Question for the HICSS crew: Is this just an obvious evolution? Or are people using this new media in interesting ways? I've found myself making short screen captures and emailing them to people (as a way to show tricky techniques, such as "how to use the unsharp filter in Photoshop"). Do others?

Of course, screencasting has a great future for just this kind of thing. Increasingly we see sites putting out demos as screencasts. To choose one arbitrarily, see this one from Ning.

Hints to screencasters: Don’t have long blank spots of no action—keep things moving. Don’t be ponderous—your screencast isn’t being sent up for an Oscar. Keep it moving. And do NOT tell me obvious things. Tell me things that can’t be seen—the goals, the rationale, the possible uses…

And finally, even though it's not a screencast, I have to include Jeff Han's wonderfully inventive demo video of his multitouch interaction system. It's not a screencast, but is done in much the same spirit. (embedded MPG) – brilliant, fluid, organic. Nicely done with keyframes in a display. You know what you’re getting into, you know what's there, and there isn't any annoying narrator to get in the way. Genius!

- Dan -

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

What kind of new technologies are we talking about?

The point of this blog is to encourage group thinking (not groupthink) about how new technologies are affecting the ways we use information. Here are a few initial thoughts:

tags--popularized by Flickr and, it's a rampant meme these days. Do they really help? If so, what kind of help are they providing? Can you give me data about how tags help? Do you see any other new and interesting applications of tags?

AJAX--the software magic of Async Javascript And XML (esp. XMLHttpRequest), this is the secret that makes highly interactive web widgets work. See Google Maps or for examples. Maps lets you drag the image around, giving the feel of an infinite plane. Live lets you drag items on the page for rearrangable web page display. Question: Isn't AJAX just letting the UI genie out of the bottle again? Won't the AJAX-ification of all things lead to even more UI confusion? Or... is it the way out of the constraints of the HTML UI limitations we've all suffered?

sensing--with RFIDs everywhere, and GPS units, and cell-phones now with location sensing ability, how can will we use geocoded life information effectively? The BBC recently wrote about Nokia's exploration in using cell phones to log your life. What other directions will this go?

quiet standards--we all know that Control-C does a copy, Control-V does a paste. What other parts of our UI world are becoming quietly standardized? More to the point for HICSS, in what ways will quiet standards (informal, often tacit agreements among software makers) become points of positive transfer? I expect, for example, that Control-I will put my text editor into italics mode. That's a great example of positive transfer between software apps without a formal UI spec. But I was REALLY surprised when Control-K put me into insert-hyperlink mode. That was what I'd expected, but I was happily surprised to find it in Blogger's editor (when I'd learned it in Dreamweaver). Even better, I did the Control-K unconsciously... everything just worked. It was only later that I realized what had just happened.

Other ideas? Other technologies?

-- Dan --

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Important dates for HICSS 2007

Important Dates during 2006

Abstracts are recommended. Authors may contact Minitrack Chairs f
or guidance and indication of appropriate content at anytime.

June 15, 2006 Deadline to submit full papers.

August 15, 2006 Authors receive decisions regarding
paper acceptances. (Note: Acceptance
may be conditional; revisions may be
requested before final acceptance of paper.)

September 15, 2006 All Authors submit the final version of their
accepted papers for publication. At least
one author of each paper must register to
attend the conference by this date. Early
Registration fee $545 applies until this date.

Opening of the HICSS Minitrack blog

Hi folks... This blog is for the HICSS Minitrack on "Using Information: New Technologies, Ways & Means." It's an experiment in using the technology that we want to meet and talk about at HICSS.

What we mean by that is pretty open. It runs the gamut from Web 2.0 technologies like tagging and mashups, to more traditional means of collaborating, like Instant Messaging (so, 1990's!) and group stored/accessible content.

Where we take this is up to us!

Let the blog begin!

For more information about submitting papers to this minitrack, please see our CFP at:

HICSS CFP for Using Information: New Technologies, Way & Means

Feel free to contact us with questions. Better yet, please post public thoughts and comments to this blog!

-- Dan & Jonathan --