In 2020, Microsoft Excel introduced a new function: LAMBDA. Software updates are frequent, and often go unnoticed. But sometimes, a software update brings something somewhat surprising: a shift in the identity of the user. The Lambda update shifts the identities of spreadsheet users and communities, and reinvigorates longstanding debates about whether spreadsheet use ought to … Continue reading Could a software update change your identity?
Intelligence as a war game
In May 1997, millions of people, despite likely never having played a game of chess themselves, gathered around their televisions to watch chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov play. His opponent, what appeared to be a pair of six-foot-tall cupboards enclosed in a black perforated metal grille, was IBM’s “Deep Blue” chess computer. Kasparov lost, and the event … Continue reading Intelligence as a war game
Enough with ‘human-AI collaboration’
Describing our interaction with Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems as ‘collaboration’ is well-intentioned, but flawed. Not only is it misleading, but it also takes away the credit of AI ‘labour’ from the humans behind it, and erases and obscures an often exploitative arrangement between AI producers and consumers. In this article, I explore how the AI … Continue reading Enough with ‘human-AI collaboration’
Look, no hands! Exploring data with your eyes
Can you imagine using a computer without a mouse, keyboard, or touchscreen? Why would we even need to do that? In this article, we will learn how virtual on-screen ‘lenses’ can be controlled using eye-tracking technology, to magnify and show additional details on charts. Using your eyes to control a computer has some unexpected challenges, … Continue reading Look, no hands! Exploring data with your eyes
Product design and the myth of faster horses
Product design often encounters a tension between solving observable customer needs (reactive design), and inventing novel experiences without concrete basis in current customer behaviour, but which designers believe will be valuable (proactive design). Both reactive and proactive design can produce successful results. However, the practical question remains: given that most product design teams have finite … Continue reading Product design and the myth of faster horses
Coding in natural language: let’s start small
The idea of writing a computer program by writing English (or another natural human language) is attractive because it might make coding easier and faster. This article tells the story of my encounter with natural language programming as a graduate student, and the small working system I built. I discuss the idea of context limiting: … Continue reading Coding in natural language: let’s start small
What if charts could control your data?
We typically think of charts as the end result of data analysis. To create a chart in Excel, you must first select some data. To produce a chart in Python or R using charting libraries, you must provide an array, data table or data frame. When William Playfair was inventing the line and bar charts … Continue reading What if charts could control your data?
The fundamental value of the metaverse is sensory misdirection, not replication
The “metaverse” is the collective marketing term for a set of virtual reality media experiences. It is accessed using headsets such as the Oculus Quest, Valve Index, and HTC vive. It is often presented in marketing materials as newly enabling the digital replication of physical space, despite the fact that this has always been possible … Continue reading The fundamental value of the metaverse is sensory misdirection, not replication
How my online gaming addiction saved my Ph.D.
Or, how I cookie-clicked my way to a doctorate in interaction design. It’s been 5 years since I finished my Ph.D. on user interfaces for machine learning. To celebrate/commiserate, I’m sharing an unusual (if I may say so myself) grad school war story, the story of how sinking hundreds of hours into pointless online games … Continue reading How my online gaming addiction saved my Ph.D.
Revealing the hidden guesswork of spreadsheet comprehension
This article is based on the following publication [PDF]: Sruti Srinivasa Ragavan, Advait Sarkar, and Andrew D Gordon. 2021. Spreadsheet Comprehension: Guesswork, Giving Up and Going Back to the Author. Proceedings of the 2021 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, Article 181, 1–21. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1145/3411764.3445634 … Continue reading Revealing the hidden guesswork of spreadsheet comprehension