Thoughts on the HCIL symposium

Posted by Kim Rees on May 27, 2012

Last week I attended the 29th annual symposium at the Human-Computer Interaction Lab at the University of Maryland. The HCIL is famous for a little thing known as the treemap, created by the founder of the lab, Ben Shneiderman. It’s famous for lots of other visualizations and people too, but it’s best known for the treemap.

The annual symposium is put on by the lab to showcase it’s latest and greatest research. I sometimes forget that HCIL focuses on things other than visualization, so I had to sit, confused, through a few talks before I realized they weren’t about visualization (“Where’s the viz?” I was thinking). I won’t fault them for not being all about dataviz; the Social Network Analysis Strategies for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse by lab Director, Jen Golbeck, was thoroughly entertaining and insightful work regarding social networks.

HCIL is very kind and generous in that it puts all of its 25+ years of papers and talks online, and many of its projects are open source. You can also go to each individual’s page (faculty/student) to find every talk and paper they’ve completed.

My favorite talks were:

The work coming out of HCIL is inspirational as well as practical. The lab clearly works from the premise that they can have a direct impact on everyday lives in a very meaningful way.

I also have to give a shout out to Justin Grimes, PhD candidate, for giving me a great tour, long walk, and fantastic discussion on the quantified self, quantified babies, and outdated medical devices.

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