My areas of research interest include:
Students looking for ideas for research projects, thesis and dissertation topics, and papers should look at the ideas for research projects.
Current research efforts, most of which are connected to the CASCADE project are described below. CASCADE is a research testbed designed to provide a space within which graduate students can conduct research projects on a variety of topics in a functional context. The background section of the CASCADE web site provides more details on the research questions that CASCADE is addressing. (The CASCADE web site link above will spawn a new viewer, which you may simply close when done.) The interested reader might want some background on how this eclectic set of research interests came into being. Some history is provided at the end of this panel.
The eclectic nature of my research agenda may be explained in part by some history. When I came to the department in 1986, my interests were in the area of large scale document processing, particularly, the creation and formatting of large documents that might be produced on demand. I was in the final stages of the Planet Earth project, a project funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Annenberg Fund, to produce custom textbooks on demand. We had, in the mid 1980's, successfully managed to reduce the time to produce a fully featured textbook from six months to 2 hours! While the cost per textbook was about $2,000, it was clear to us that technology would reduce cost dramatically within a decade or so.
I was also engaged in the production of a series of academic journals with the help of the Xerox Corporation. This project highlighted the need to convert documents between systems. More directly, with support from Xerox, I undertook to develop an intelligent system to convert documents produced in simple text processing systems to more formal structured markup -- i.e. SGML. These projects led to an exploration of the standards for the development of documents. This in turn led with time to the exploration of standards for interconnection, interoperability and human computer interaction. Ultimately, this interest in standards took on a life of its own as I became involved with the national standards organizations. This led to a number of projects that tried to make sense out of developments in the way standards were developed. Because standards are complex group authored documents, it was only natural that some efforts would eventually be directed to how to assist in the development of standards.
Just as documents had led to standards, so documents led to interfaces -- in two ways. First, documents themselves are interfaces to information, so it was possible to ask why computer interfaces couldn't be like document interfaces. More directly, the 1980's were a period of rapid evolution in the area of interface design. People were exploring patterns languages and this seemed to be an area worthy of examination as we were working to build good interfaces to document systems, because they are by their very nature intensely interactive system. Finally, we come to the issue of exactly what the nature of the interaction is between humans and machines. I see this most broadly as the augmentation issue -- how does the electronic system augment the human system. A review of all the early work by Doug Engelbart led to a conviction that while much had been said, little had been done since his pioneering work to build truly augmented systems.
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