Being Heard

Being Heard was inspired by a long-ago event in DanCo's life: one time, he spent quite a long time pouring his heart out to a friend about the girl he thought he was going to marry. After what can only be described as extended angst, his friend's reply: "I learned a new rollerblade trick. Wanna see?"

This made me wonder how we know how well we're being heard (and hearing) other people when we communicate. The idea is to use archived email, chat, phone records, and other past communication to help us better understand how we communicate with others. This might involve data mining and/or visualization of these archives, with the goal of answering a number of plausibly interesting questions. What do they look like? What do we talk about? When do they happen?

Our hope is to use clever theories about the ways people make sense of conversations and relationships to understand what kinds of data to mine and present and think about how to integrate these tools into people's current practices around conversation and reflection.

We think it's related to the growing personal informatics movement in CHI. Whether it's activity detection and ambient awareness, deriving interesting info from financial records, tracking and visualizing personal data in general, this seems like a growth area in HCI and one that has massive potential research and real-world impact.

Active: (Faculty) Dan Cosley (Phd) Victoria Schwanda Sosik
Past: (PhD) Scott Golder, Shenwei Liu, Xuan Zhao (Masters) Anju Jha, Li Jiang, Rupashree H. Rangaiyenger, Sneha Kanneganti (Undergraduate) Tiffany Ng, OJ Zhao, Mitchell Davis, Erica Horowitz, LaiYee Ho, Qixuan (Livia) Zhang (Staff) Sivaroop Tejaswi Peesapati (a.k.a. Tejas)
  1. Zhao, O. J., Ng, T., Cosley, D. (2012). No forests without trees: particulars and patterns in visualizing personal communication. iConference 2012. 25-32. [PDF] [Publisher]
  2. Ng, T., Zhao, O. J., Cosley, D. (2011). pieTime: Visualizing Communication Patterns. SocialCom 2011 poster. [PDF] [Publisher]

GroupMeter is/was Gilly Leshed's platform for studying the social side of group dynamics through presenting visualizations of conversation, and an inspiration for the Being Heard project. It used the LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count) tool by Pennebaker et al. to compute features of an ongoing group chat, and presented a series of visualizations of feedback about the words people used. For example, agreement words are often perceived as signs of a poor teammate, one who doesn't contribute ideas of their own. It turns out that the main tension is about not so much what to measure (though that's important), but about what to include, how much to explain it, and whether you should give people normative goals. And sadly, normative goals are really easy to imply through aspects of the graphic design. This project mostly happened before the Reimagination Lab was officially organized, hence, there is no listing of a series of names of lab participants on the project.

Active: none, completed project
  1. Leshed, G., Cosley, D., Hancock, J. T., Gay, G. (2010). Visualizing Language Use in Team Conversations: Designing Through Theory, Experiments, and Iterations. Design Case Study in Proceedings of CHI 2010. [PDF] [Publisher]
  2. Leshed, G., Perez, D., Hancock, J. H., Cosley, D., Birnholtz, J., Lee, S., McLeod, P. L., Gay, G. (2009). Visualizing real-time language-based feedback on teamwork behavior in computer-mediated groups. Proceedings of CHI 2009. [PDF] [Publisher]
  3. Leshed, G., Hancock, J., Cosley, D., McLeod, P., Gay G. (2007). Feedback for Guiding Reflection on Teamwork Practices. GROUP 2007. [PDF] [Publisher]