Project Ideas for the DLC Course 2007

Next Generation Wikis in support of creativity

L3D has designed a variety of systems to support organizational/community memories (dynasites, livingOM, web2gether, EDC reflection spaces, course swikis) with the goal of building and supporting communities. Our research continues to study the use of community-building creativity-support tools for settings where support for development and sharing of creative ideas is critical. The current directions for this research:

More Information:
or contact Hal Eden ( or Holger Dick (

EDC-related projects

Capturing and Presenting Relevant Information

In Envisionment and Discovery Collaboratory (EDC) problem-solving situations, construction activities and information relevant to the current problem are tightly coupled. One kind of information that would be useful in many domains would be resources from information providers, such as news feeds. Currently, there is no direct or automatic connection between information resources and the EDCs information space. People who find interesting articles must add them to the EDC by hand. In this project, you would explore how news feed or other similar streaming information sources could be used within the EDC. You would explore issues such as the capture, organization, and delivery of information. Relevant resources may include sites such as the Boulder Daily Camera. One example design problem would be deciding how automated the capture and delivery can / should be and what tools would be necessary to facilitate the information gathering process.
In addition, participants in the process may wish to contribute, extend, annotate, and organize the information relevant to their particular problem-solving process.

More Information:


Arias, E. G., Eden, H., Fischer, G., Gorman, A., & Scharff, E. (2000) "Transcending the Individual Human Mind—Creating Shared Understanding through Collaborative Design," ACM Transactions on Computer Human-Interaction, 7(1), pp. 84-113.

Capturing Feedback from Remote Participants

The EDC relies on a physical construction space. Unfortunately, only a limited number of people can interact with this construction space at the same time. Is it possible to increase the number of participants in the construction process? For large group meetings, technologies such as wireless computers or PDAs may help give a voice to people who are not around the table. In this project, you would explore how new technologies (such as wireless systems) may be used to involve a larger group of face-to-face participants. You would explore different strategies for getting people to participate, and technologies that may support that participation. Relevant resources may include existing work on voting and chat technologies. One example design challenge would be determining what kind of information would be contributed by individuals, and what social situations might be necessary to support large-scale interactions.

More Information:


Abowd, G. D. & Mynatt, E. D. (2001) "Charting Past, Present, and Future Research in Ubiquitous Computing." In J. M. Carroll (Ed.) Human-Computer Interaction in the New Millennium, ACM Press, New York, pp. 513-535.

Context-Aware Computational Environments—Integrating Artifacts with the Decisions Surrounding Them

Our past work centered on domain-oriented design environments has been based on the following simplifying assumption: all design activities happened inside the computational environment rather than some of them happening in the external world. With the EDC, we need to extend our approach by creating environments that integrate computational environments and (computationally enriched) external physical worlds with mechanisms capturing the larger (often unarticulated) context of what users are doing.

For example: a fundamental shortcoming of the current prototype of the EDC is that there is no capture of the discussions in which stakeholders engage during design sessions. In this project, you would explore and investigate a variety of critical and important research problems, including the capture of design rationale, as it is articulated in the discussions and design sessions by integrating the artifact under construction with the discussions around it. This will address the failure of design rationale systems of the past that required extra efforts of scribes to document in the computational environment things that are happening in the surroundings.
Some of the following research issues can be explored in this project:
  1. are context-aware environments most successful if constructed for specific domains because the domain-orientation will restricts the context and provides us with better mechanism to interpret the context?
  2. because context-aware environments need to know more about other agents participating in collaborative decision making, will adequately designed "boundary objects" between users and systems be able to provide this additional context and thereby provide richer and easier interaction?
  3. which context elements can be captured automatically by devices, usage data, recommender systems, social navigation, read wear and edit wear and which context needs to be explicitly provided by humans?
  4. how can the efforts and necessary skills be based on the interests and background knowledge of specific communities of practice?
  5. Complex collaborative decision making processes are ill-defined problems in which context do not exists but emerge gradually. How do we capture the emergent context?
  6. Assuming a substantial amount of context has been captured, how will the context be used to personalize information, and how can push technologies exploit the context to contextualize information to the task at hand?

More Information:


  1. Fischer, G. (2001) "Articulating the Task at Hand and Making Information Relevant to It," Human-Computer Interaction Journal, Special Issue on "Context-Aware Computing", 16, pp. 243-256. — available at:
  2. Gerhard Fischer, Ernesto Arias, Stefan Carmien, Hal Eden, Andrew Gorman, Shin’ichi Konomi, James Sullivan (2004): "Supporting Collaboration and Distributed Cognition in Context-Aware Pervasive Computing Environments", Paper Presented at the 2004 Meeting of the Human Computer Interaction Consortium "Computing Off The Desktop" — available at:

Capturing Feedback Between Meetings

The EDC emphasizes bringing people together to discuss problems face to face. However, not all problems can be solved in a single setting, and not every relevant stakeholder can be present at all meetings. Currently, the EDC only uses a simple Web annotation system to support this asynchronous discussion. How can we complement synchronous meetings with other asynchronous information sources? In this project, you would explore what features would be necessary for asynchronous interaction. More specifically, you could look at how Web tools (like discussions, annotation tools, outliners) can capture the results of meetings and how people who are not present can present their opinions. Relevant resources would include some of the sharing and annotation features provided by the Swiki. One example design challenge would be understanding what form user comments should take (such as voting, discussion, and so on) and how to summarize parts of a face-to-face meeting for people not present.

More Information:


  1. Moran, T. P. & Carroll, J. M. (Eds.) (1996) Design Rationale: Concepts, Techniques, and Use, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Hillsdale, NJ
  2. Fischer, G., Lemke, A. C., McCall, R., & Morch, A. (1996) "Making Argumentation Serve Design." In T. Moran & J. Carrol (Eds.), Design Rationale: Concepts, Techniques, and Use, Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 267-293.

"Virtual Stakeholders" (Critics) and Making Users Feedback Active

In most specific domains, some generally accepted rules emerge. For example in the transportation domain, one such rule might be: "Two bus stops should not be further apart than 500 yards". These rules can be embedded in systems and "critique" (representing the design knowledge of virtual stakeholders) design activities as they take place. Critics are computational entities that can analyze a computer model of a problem and give feedback based on a certain perspective.

People participating in the EDC come to the table with a specific agenda and a set of personal constraints — and these constraints may be different from the critics existing in the system. Capturing people’s own specific and additional constraints, helping them make the constraints explicit, and evaluating a design based on user constraints are all very important tasks. In this project, you would explore how a user may express their perspective in an active manner, perhaps in the design of critics. Relevant resources include existing critiquing systems and other active feedback systems (such as spelling correctors.) One example design challenge would be determining the kinds of constraints a user might want to specify in an active way, and whether it is feasible to represent those constraints in an automatic or semi-automatic fashion.

More Information:


Nardi, B. A., Miller, J. R., & Wright, D. J. (1998) "Collaborative, Programmable Intelligent Agents," Communications of the ACM, 41(3), pp. 96-104.

Fischer, G., Nakakoji, K., Ostwald, J., Stahl, G., & Sumner, T. (1998) "Embedding Critics in Design Environments." In M. T. Maybury & W. Wahlster (Eds.), Readings in Intelligent User Interfaces, Morgan Kaufmann, San Francisco, pp. 537-559.

Meta-Design: How Can Domain Designers and End-Users Create Content

Users often find a mismatch between what the system allows them to do and what they would need or would like to be able to do. This translates also in the incapability from possible users to see the potential of the system. How can users add functionalities to the EDC? Can the EDC functionalities be arranged in high-level categories (i.e. relevant information, real time data, active critics etc.)? Can this contribute to improve the meta-design of the system and to enable a rapid EDC prototyping?
The EDC provides users with a large amount of information and tools. How can the visualization and integration of relevant information, real time data and active critics be improved? How can the interface both reduce the effort for the amount of information to "read" and sustain more fluently the cognitive and social processes that take place around the table (or beyond)?
If we want to create environments that allow, support, and encourage users to be designers rather than simply consumers, perspectives of meta-design need to be brought to bear on the development of systems. For example, one of the challenges in the EDC is to go beyond having programming experts as the only avenue for creating new design situations and participatory scenarios.

A previous DLC project looked at the potential for creating a "scenario builder" (see: A potential project would be to take their mockup as a starting and create a prototype.

More Information:

See Hal for a demonstration of previous work.


Fischer, G., & Giaccardi, E. (2004) "Meta-Design: A Framework for the Future of End User Development." In H. Lieberman, F. Paternò, & V. Wulf (Eds.), End User Development — Empowering people to flexibly employ advanced information and communication technology, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, p. (in press).