What do engineers assume about users’ ability to specify what they want?

I came across the following wonderful gems of tech history quotes in one of my recent readings: The relational model is a particular suitable structure for the truly casual user (i.e. a non-technical person who merely wishes to interrogate the database, for example a housewife who wants to make enquiries about this week’s best buys at […]

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Smart watches are still pretty dumb

I have been looking into sensing technology (especially the wearable kind) with increasing interest. This is in part because of some current work I am involved with (e.g., our papers at IPSN ’13, and ACM TECS ’13, which were really initial forays), but more broadly because many of us are becoming convinced that persistent interaction […]

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Optimal vs Good enough – how far apart?

The Netflix Tech Blog has this very interesting piece which is very insightful: http://techblog.netflix.com/2011/01/how-we-determine-product-success.html.   In particular, this point is very important although easily and often very voluntarily ignored by so many researchers: There is a big lesson we’ve learned here, which is that the ideal execution of an idea can be twice as effective as […]

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On bottom-up/top-down development of concepts

For many years now, beginning with some questions that were part of my doctoral dissertation research, I have been curious about multi-level models that describe phenomena and strategies. A fundamental question that arises in this setting is regarding which direction (top-down/bottom-up) takes primacy. A particular sense in which this directly touches upon my work is […]

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Braided Highways

Following a link from the Low Dimensional Topology blog, I found this really interesting tidbit of information about a highway interchange in the US that has nontrivial structure. This particular interchange combines the American clover leaf pattern resulting from the standard right turn along a loop with the ‘British pattern’ of left turns. And the […]

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