Human Computer Interaction for Supporting Collaboration: From the Enterprise to Online Social Networks
How can service technicians in Tampa use mobile devices to collaboratively troubleshoot the repair of a turbine blade with an expert in Atlanta? How do nurses and doctors together make sense of patient information to make time critical decisions in the ER? Can an automobile enthusiast leverage her social network to find a reliable mechanic for her 1970s vintage Mercedes? In our everyday lives, we often work with others to find information, make sense of it, and make joint decisions towards a shared goal, and this has been the focus of my research in industry and academia.
The field of human computer interaction (HCI) seeks to design efficient, useful, and usable interfaces for computer applications. Within HCI, an important area of focus has been computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW), which extends HCI techniques to the design of collaboration and social software. My research strives to apply CSCW theory to answer the question "How can we support people to collaboratively find, share, and make sense of information?" I will briefly present three research projects exploring this question across various collaboration settings that range from small groups to online social networks. These studies have been conducted in academia and industry, and provide insights into research methodology and impact in these different settings. I will discuss 1) the design of a mobile application for real-time collaboration between power plant service technicians and remote experts; 2) my PhD dissertation research on collaborative sensemaking in the ER; and 3) my post-doc research on social question-answering which examined how people use online social networks like Twitter to fulfill specialized information needs. I will also discuss the opportunities for, and challenges with, conducting HCI research in industry.