Georgia Tech!!

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

I’m joining the faculty at Georgia Tech!! In the fall, I’ll be an Assistant Professor of Interactive Computing, in the College of Computing. I’m deliriously excited to join their faculty. It’s like getting picked to open for the Stones, in 1967.

I may help out with a class in the fall, then I’ll start teaching properly in the spring. Until then, I’m madly dissertating, distracting myself with Link Different, attending ICWSM, perhaps ASA (say hi!) and looking for somewhere to live in Atlanta.

p.s. I know most academics don’t like (or don’t admit to liking) sports. But I love college basketball. *gasp* I come from a school with a big I for a mascot; the yellow jacket is a big improvement. And now I get to heckle Duke anytime I want.

CSCW 2010: Understanding Deja Reviewers">CSCW 2010: Understanding Deja Reviewers

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

I’m happy to announce a new paper, a departure from my thesis work. It’s going to appear at CSCW 2010, and it looks at people who write product reviews that really look like other reviews. I call them deja reviewers. I’m also happy to report that the note got the best of CSCW award. Very cool!

ABSTRACT: People who review products on the web invest considerable time and energy in what they write. So why would someone write a review that restates earlier reviews? Our work looks to answer this question. In this paper, we present a mixed-method study of deja reviewers, latecomers who echo what other people said. We analyze nearly 100,000 reviews for signs of repetition and find that roughly 10–15% of reviews substantially resemble previous ones. Using these algorithmically-identified reviews as centerpieces for discussion, we interviewed reviewers to understand their motives. An overwhelming number of reviews partially explains deja reviews, but deeper factors revolving around an individual’s status in the community are also at work. The paper concludes by introducing a new idea inspired by our findings: a self-aware community that nudges members toward community-wide goals. (espresso machine courtesy of jakeliefer.)

pdf Understanding Deja Reviewers.
Proc. CSCW, 2010.

Google Fellowship

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

I am very, very, very happy to tell you that last week Google gave me a fellowship, their Fellowship in Social Computing. They will fund me for the next two years, the rest of my PhD. It also comes with a bunch of goodies, including a new phone, which I need desperately. (I try not to show my phone at conferences.)

I pitched three new projects in my proposal to them, projects I hope to get out soon. Google only accepted nominations from universities. I was quite skeptical that our traditional CS department would nominate me, but they pleasantly surprised me. Thank you, Google!

CHI 2009: Predicting Tie Strength">CHI 2009: Predicting Tie Strength

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Social media treats all users the same: trusted friend or total stranger, with little or nothing in between. In reality, relationships fall everywhere along this spectrum, a topic social science has investigated for decades under the theme of tie strength. Our work bridges this gap between theory and practice. In this paper, we present a predictive model that maps social media data to tie strength. The model builds on a dataset of over 2,000 social media ties and performs quite well, distinguishing between strong and weak ties with over 85% accuracy. We complement these quantitative findings with interviews that unpack the relationships we could not predict. The paper concludes by illustrating how modeling tie strength can improve social media design elements, including privacy controls, message routing, friend introductions and information prioritization.

We won best paper!

pdf Predicting Tie Strength With Social Media.
Proc. CHI, 2009.

Citeulike, BibDesk and Pages

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

Every researcher has (and hopefully solves) the reference management problem, and yet it seems hard to find concrete information on how people do it. I use Apple’s Pages to write up my research. The major alternatives, Word and LaTeX, have two crucial flaws that just drive me crazy. First, and this is a big one, Word handles images very poorly. It does not float text around them well and it provides almost no help in alignment. LaTeX has the type and compile routine that disrupts my concentration. LaTeX does have one thing that I love: \cite{} plus BibDesk.

While writing my latest research paper, I found a way to get the best of LaTeX, BibDesk, citeulike and Pages—and quickly. I love citeulike. The early parts of research involve a lot of page-hopping from research paper to research paper. I often have 25 tabs open in this phase. Citeulike offers a convenient bookmarklet that parses major research sites for reference info (no more hunting for the issue number). Plus, it offers the standard amount of socialness. I love it. Now I can quickly connect BibDesk to citeulike to Pages. It goes like this.

1. Download, install and open BibDesk.
2. Right click on Library and select Add External File Group.
3. Enter
4. Download and install (per readme) CiteInPages.
5. Drag references, one or more at a time, into Pages.
6. Choose CiteInPages alpha numbered from the BibDesk scripts menu.

The CiteInPages scripts are wonderful and open source. This gives me the best of LaTeX and Pages. Very nice. I hacked together a nearly-compliant ACM-style template for BibDesk. Install it in BibDesk’s application support directory: ~/Library/Application Support/BibDesk/Templates. If you want to use it, you first point the CiteInPages alpha numbered script to it by editing the script. Such is the price for good and free.

I’m in love.

CHI 08 Best Paper Award!">CHI 08 Best Paper Award!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

I am very pleased to announce that The Network in the Garden has been awarded best paper at CHI 2008! I’m very honored, especially because the work was a pretty big risk in the first place. I look forward to presenting the paper in Florence! Get me on Facebook or email and let’s meet up.