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Briefly discuss the following issues for the paper that you have read:

1. what did you find

1.1. interesting about the article?

I found it interesting that a rich simulation could be produced to aid in urban planning. Considering how much trouble people have solving the famous travelling salesman problem in their head (or even on paper,) transportation planning seems to be a very good area in which to take advantage of computer assisted planning. I remember, when I was in engineering school, going to a class taught by a man who had the nickname "Gridlock Sam." He was well known for solving many of New York City's problems with gridlock. I think that he would have appreciated a system like the PiTA Board, and I do wonder what system he used himself. It was also interesting to see how ordinary citizens were able to participate in solving the problem and how the symmetry of ignorance was used to solve the problems presented.

1.2. not interesting about the article?

Nothing. I find urban planning and GIS to be very interesting.

2. what do you consider the main message of the article?

That HCI should be approched carefully and thoughtfully. For instance, utilizing the intuitiveness of physical systems (over computational systems, which can be more abstract) can make up for usability shortcomings in computational systems. On the other side of the coin, computational systems can provide much needed information very quickly that can not be found to exist in physical systems explicitly.

3. are themes discussed in the article which you would like to know more about?

I am very interested in HCI. I would like to know more about it in general. In addition, I would like to know about more specific aspects of it, too. I would like to know about contextualizing information. I would like to know about making externalizations available so that they can extend our knowledge. I would like to know more about how the PiTA Board works. I would like to see it in action.

4. what did you find interesting about the “EDC” system?

I found it interesting how inclusive they were. The broad range of people that were called in to assist in making the routes was nice to see. I think that having a proper EDC environment would make up for many obstacles currently encountered by planning groups. Perhaps a specialist is missing. Maybe the simulation will provide a reasonable answer to a question that would be forwarded to him or her. The answer can then be used as a temporary explanation and the topic can be left open until the specialist provides a conclusive answer. Perhaps there are some things that even a specialist would need to simulate. In this case, parameters are flexible, and given the proper foresight a group can use technology as a proper aid.

5. do you know of other papers, ideas, and systems which are closely related to the article and the “EDC” system?

The best example of a similar system I can think of off the top of my head is the BP Center for Visualization. It seems to have a 3d immersive environment. Though it was initially intended to aid in oil drilling, the website says it could have applications in urban planning in the future.

6. what do the article and the associated system say about

6.1. design

Design can be aided by computational systems. In such a case an intuitive interface that presents contextual information to the user is ideal. In addition it may be desirable to use physical analogues in order to boost usability. In other words, input devices that function like a pen could be constructed to look like a pen.

6.2. learning

Having the proper information at hand at the right time is vital to a task. With so much information available, one who is involved in learning must be able to find things when they need them. In some cases, finding the solution may mean tweaking a simulation. Even if the person is an end user he or she must have access to some of the lower level functions of a simulation.

6.3. collaboration

The symmetry of ignorance is prevalent. Everybody keeps some stuff to themselves because they think it is common knowledge, but when we are encouraged to share we find that everybody learns different things. Everybody is ignorant to some extent, but with ample communication we take advantage of this by illuminating what needs to be illuminated.

6.4. innovative media to support these activities?

Proper media can make information more accessable (the world wide web, databases, libraries.) Proper media can aid in teaching (Squeak, physical demonstrations, interactive cdroms.) Proper media/technology can aid in communication (the telephone, email, online forums.) In order to be effective these media should be designed from a users standpoint. In the very recent past these things have been designed in part from a novice's standpoint. Now it is time they be designed from a skilled domain worker's standpoint.

7. do you have any ideas how this research could / should be extended (based on your own knowledge and experience)?

I think it is very important to pay attention to the physical details of input devices. I am in some ways old fashioned, and like interaction with a computer to feel like interaction with physical objects. An example is a pen and tablet input device for a computer. If these felt more like a pen on paper I would be more compelled to use them. Many feel cheap, and are harder to draw with than they should be. In addition, with technology such as force-feedback, input devices can also provide the user with phsyical simulations. If a person is, for example, using a set of gloves as an input device, and he or she is creating a sphere, it would make sense to factor in, to some extent inertia. This would make virtual objects seem more real, which is not necessarily always a bad idea, since with CAD the object will probably eventually be prototyped and mass produced.

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