Finland is one country in Europe were it seems pretty hard to get to in the morning from Germany or Austria. If you have a meeting before 11 am you have to fly the day before.

I was invited to Helsinki to be opponent (together with Kaisa Väänänen-Vainio-Mattila) for the PhD defense of Elina Vartiainen at Helsinki University of Technology. The first time I came across work she was involved in was at CHI 2006 in Montreal. She worked with Virpi Roto on the Minimap web browser [1]. Last year in a doctoral colloquium in Finland we first discussed some… Continue reading

Earlier I had a tele-conference with Christian Becker and Gregor Schiele (we still try to write a book 😉 and I tryed MeBeam.com for the video. And to my great suprise it work instandly and well and the conference setup took about 5 seconds – open website, chose a name for the conference, distribute the link over skype. And as one can see video adds another quality to the conversation 🙂

At LMU in Munich Richard Atterer defended his PhD thesis on Usability Tool Support for Model-Based Web Development. The external examiner was Prof. Martin Gaedke– it was great meeting Martin again, we shared an office some years back at TecO, University of Karlsruhe. While I was with LMU I worked with Richard on a number of interesting topics and I learned to value his technical skills and insightful reflection – hope he stays in academia 😉  Our experiments with remote usability assessment and effectively fine-grain user tracking on web pages [1] created a number of ideas for… Continue reading

Imagine there is a song – you know band and title – and you want to buy it. Should not be really something worthwhile reporting in a blog…

How long does it take to buy a song and how many steps does it need? I tried myself and was pretty much amazed that it is still more difficult than other ways to get music. The idea was to put the song into my shopping cart, press check-out, pay by credit card, and download. On the stores I encountered you have to register before to buy… I finally got the song… Continue reading

Heiko Drewes and Richard Atterer, collegues from university of Munich, have travelled to Interact 2007. Their emails indicate that the conference is this year at a most interesting place. The conference is in Rio de Janeiro, directly at the Copacabana. The conference was highly competitive and we are happy to have two papers we can present there.

Heiko presents a paper that shows that eye gestures can be used to interact with a computer. In his experiments he shows that users can learn gesture with eyes (basically moving the eyes in a certain pattern, e.g. following the outline of a… Continue reading

Today Karl-Heinz Sylla and Reinhard Budde (both senior researcher at Fraunhofer IAIS) gave for the summer research project a tutorial on agile methods for software engineering. The experience they have from large scale real world projects is impressive! We looked at different approaches to software construction and discussed the pros and cons. Short iterations, user stories, pair programming and test driven development seem to fit very well to our work approach and project goals. A good starting point for more on the topic in particular with a teaching perspective are the following 2 papers: LeJeune, N. F. 2006. Teaching software… Continue reading

Yesterday our summer project started at IAIS. The students are highly motivated and the combined skill set of the participants is impressive. We discussed a lot what we want to achieve over the next weeks.

Creating a new special purpose search service – basically from the rough idea to a working prototype – in 5 weeks seems a bit crazy but I am confident that we get there 😉 In certain areas we already have an idea how much pages we have to crawl and how much content we have to analyze.

It is interesting that it already now… Continue reading

Dell started some time ago a web page where the public was asked for comments on improvement (http://www.ideastorm.com) – by now the list is quite impressive – at least in length. Such open community processes are really exciting to watch. I am curious which of those suggestions are implemented and how successful it is to listen to customers direct responses. If it works well others are probably trying it, too…

To make the most out of these suggestions and comments it seems essential to perform a detailed analysis (perhaps taking into account temporal dynamics of the conversation additionally… Continue reading

In the castle on campus Ute Schütz and Michael Krapp from IAIS and SCAI organize a public panel discussion on citizen journalism and Web 2.0 trends. The discussion looked at the topic from several angles including technology, content, and communication. I had the honour to be on the panel with Wolfgang Back, Frank Patalong, Moritz „mo.“ Sauer and Thomas Tikwinski.

On issue was how much blogs are (mis)used to transport information or to do advertising. The web seems to be to many people a very believable medium. This reminded me of an article I read some time ago on story-telling… Continue reading

An event this week reminded me that life has an end. Getting a link to a Google Map page (satellite image) where someone found his last resting place shows how far reaching new technologies have penetrated our life. This made me think about a demo I saw at Ubicomp last year (http://mastaba.digital-shrine.com/). The digital family shrine did not really relate to my cultural experience and felt somehow strange, but still very interesting and intriguing

By accident I have seen that Heiner Wolf (he was a researcher at the University of Ulm when I was a student there) has a new company – http://portal.zweitgeist.com/. Back then in 1996 he worked on a European funded project called CoBrow – Cooperative Browsing – looking how to create a system that allows you to meet other people who are on the same web page as you are.

Since then I think that is a really exiting idea. But looking at his current work it is easy to imagine that this could really take of. It is extremely… Continue reading

Florian Alt started his master thesis with us. He use the UsaProy (http://fnuked.de/usaproxy/) – a concept and software we (mainly Richard Atterer and Monika Wnuk) developed previously at LMU Munich – to create a new system that allows the annotation of web pages.

We think it is an interesting challenges to create a system that allows users to annotate any web page and make these annotations available to others.

With the concept we envision to bring Web 2.0 to any page and site in the WWW. Interactivity and community features are provided independently of the content provider and authors.