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CHI @ Cambridge!

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Michele Ide-Smith.

Cambridge Usability Group events return after a long summer break with an opportunity to hear two excellent papers presented earlier this year at CHI 2007 .

Date: Monday 8th October Time: 6.30 for 6.45 Venue: Microsoft Research, Cambridge Cost: The event is FREE and you do not need to be a UK UPA member to attend Registration: Please email cambridge.usability@gmail.com to reserve a place.

Location map and directions: www.research.microsoft.com/aboutmsr/visitmsr/cambridge

The first paper and winner in the best paper awards at CHI 2007 is “Capturing life experiences: Software or wetware?: discovering when and why people use digital prosthetic memory” presented by Vaiva Kalnikaité and Steve Whittaker.

Abstract Our lives are full of memorable and important moments, as well as important items of information. The last few years have seen the proliferation of digital devices intended to support prosthetic memory (PM), to help users recall experiences, conversations and retrieve personal information. We nevertheless have little systematic understanding of when and why people might use such devices, in preference to their own organic memory (OM). Although OM is fallible, it may be more efficient than accessing information from a complex PM device. We report a controlled lab study which investigates when and why people use PM and OM. We found that PM use depended on users’ evaluation of the quality of their OM, as well as PM device properties. In particular, we found that users trade-off Accuracy and Efficiency, preferring rapid access to potentially inaccurate information over laborious access to accurate information. We discuss the implications of these results for future PM design and theory. Rather than replacing OM, future PM designs need to focus on allowing OM and PM to work in synergy.

About the speakers Following an MA at Cambridge, and PhD at St. Andrews, Steve took various research posts either side of the Atlantic – HP Labs Bristol, The Stanford Center, Lotus Boston, Edinburgh University and finally AT&T Labs, New Jersey. In 2003, he returned to the UK to teach and research as Professor in Information Retrieval, Sheffield University. Steve continues to win research grants, file patents and publish widely. His research interests include Computer Mediated Communication, and Multimodal Interfaces.

Vaiva is a PhD student in Department of Information Studies, Sheffield University.

Our second paper, “Usability Testing: What Have We Overlooked?”, by Gitte Lindgaard and Jarinee Chattratichart will be presented by Jarinee. This paper was nominated in the best paper awards at CHI 2007 .

Abstract One way to keep down the cost of usability tests is to run an optimum number of sessions – enough to reveal most of the problems, but not so many that later sessions simply duplicate the results of earlier ones. Nearly 15 years ago, Jakob Nielsen (useit.com) claimed the optimum number of users to run was 5, and this magic number was adopted by many organisations. Many empirical studies were conducted but could not overturn or fully support the claim. Many discussion panels at major HCI conferences failed to reach consensus, or close the debate. As Larry Constantine (Constantine & Lockwood, Ltd.) summarised at the last panel (held at CHI ’2003), ’.usability testing now appears to be a highly variable art in which the results depend on who is testing what by which protocol with which particular subjects’. In this talk, Jarinee will provide evidence that overturns this magic number 5, and suggest a new research direction for improving usability test results.

About the speaker Jarinee Chattratichart graduated in Computer Science from Imperial College London and her PhD at Brunel University concerned the Usability of Visual Programming Languages. She has subsequently taught and conducted research at Westminster, Guidhall and now Kingston University.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Usability Group series.

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