CHI2011 reflection

After few days of letting the entire information sink in and have the jetlag wear off, I decided to write up my impressions of CHI2011 in Vancouver.

CHI2011 badge

Monday, 9th of May:
Nice opening keynote by Howard Rheingold, who is an expert in teaching social media and its role in the classroom. He has developed: and a few take-away messages for me are: his experiment with having a Twitter feed of participating students projected in classroom, his advice on the importance of having students sit on a circle to improve collaboration as well as his approach to learning which was to create the boundaries and facilitate the learning process by letting students take up leading roles in the class. I also liked his statement when he compared a sergeant, a warrior and a teacher. He said that a sergeant of 1000 years ago compared to a sergeant of today is a very different one; the same for the warrior. However, in his opinion, the teacher of 1000 years ago is the same compared to one today.

Although being a nice talk my highlight for the day, couldn’t be other than my friend’s Maurits Kaptein’s Talk. He presented his latest research on persuasive technologies and I found out in the conference that Wired had an article on his research. Well done Maurits, I am very proud of you!

Tuesday, 10th of May:

CHI2011 poster

Well having for the first time a WIP in CHI, my highlight for the day could not be other than my poster presentation! It took place between 10:00 and 11:00. Tuesday was the highlight for the conference for me, not just due to my presentation. The note titled: “Utilizing DVD Players as Low-Cost Offline Internet Browsers” by Gaurav Paruthi and William Thies from TEM, Microsoft Research India was probably the best work I saw during CHI. Very inspiring work of cleverly using the existing DVD infrastructure of an average Indian household to educate children and other family members of various topics. The researchers created an application which crawled and burned articles from Wikipedia on a DVD for Indian families and schools. Brilliant!

After this presentation it was the turn of a very good friend of mine, Andres Lucero to give his first full paper presentation, titled: “Pass-Them-Around: Collaborative Use of Mobile Phones for Photo Sharing”, work done in Nokia Research Center. Great work, great presentation Andres! I should also mention that in the same session I saw a paper titled: “Automics: souvenir generating photoware for theme parks”, from Benford’s tem, which was awarded for best paper and was indeed very nicely motivated, executed and presented research.

CHI2011 NordiCHI Party

To top it, after the official end of the conference program, the NordiCHI party on the 19th floor of Rennaisance hotel which was rotating, was the perfect occasion to meet up with people and have a gorgeous view of Vancouver!

Wednesday 11th of May:
My highlight of the day was the first thing I saw, a panel on managing remote UX teams. Maybe I liked it cause it is not really something directly related to research or science and more to management. It is nice to see topics somehow related to what you do however, fundamentally different. It was surprising to me, SAP’s large UX department as well as the wit of SAP’s UX managing director, mr. Rosenberg. In terms of research, I found really interesting a paper coming out of CMU, titled: “Mobile users’ location sharing preferences with advertisers” presented by Patrick Gage Kelley. Although I think that the study was weak in ecological validity, it was nicely setup and had interesting implications. I think there is a lot of future work to be done on this topic. Finally, I found the posters much more interesting than group 1’s.

Thursday 12th of May:
THE highlight for the day was the closing plenary by Ethan Zuckerman. Absolutely stunning talk! He gave recently one in TED which addressed some of the topics he discussed during CHI.

Other highlights of the conference include:
- Have you ever placed a 3V battery in you tongue? What does it taste like? A poster from Japanese researchers (who else), were utilizing that effect, i.e. they were changing the taste of the user with the use of a battery!
- A paper that I missed but looked very promising was that of Pixar research in which they created a virtual 3D model out of a Tangible 3D one
- Bill Buxton’s interactive artifacts collection, a great addition to the conference with Bill standing most of the time around his collection and discussing about it
- As well as VCC’s great open area for companies to exhibit. Microsoft’s presence was the best in my opinion.

Moreover, we had great USI-alumni presence: posters from myself, Abdullah, Suleman & Nata, presentations from Maurits & Andres. I met Nikos, Nata, Toon, Pavan, Andres, Maurits, and Panos’, the new USI-director, presence was also very impressive: presented a course, was organizer of SIG, 2 WIPs and a full paper!

Vancouver Convention Center: great place, beautiful interior, huge spaces to socialize or rest or work, great view, great service but very bad wireless internet connection.

Vancouver Convention Center view

Vancouver’s food was great but pricy with The Sandbar in Granville island being my favorite place for lunch/dinner and Waves’ cinnamon buns with their coffee being my favorite place for breakfast.

Vancouver's Waves coffee and cinamon buns

We had bad weather almost throughout the conference and that didn’t really help in exploring the city but certainly helped my conference attendance!

People I have to check their research include: Ruth Dalton (UK), John Peponis from GaTech, Antonio Kruger (Germany) & Chris Kray (Germany).

My overall impression for CHI2011: a conference worthwhile visiting and I am really looking forward to visiting CHI2012 in Austin Texas.

Researching Communication Needs and Practices between Divorced Parents and their Children

An unpublished research proposal which I made back in Feb 2005 was quite ahead of its time I believe. The proposal was on researching the communication needs of single parent families and eliciting requirements for awareness systems. Recent research for example of Lana Yarosh has also looked into the subject with interesting results…

My proposal was titled: Researching Communication Needs and Practices between Divorced Parents and their Children

Μεταπτυχιακά στην Ολλανδία: διέξοδος από την κρίση

Με την πολυετή εμπειρία μου στα ολλανδικά πανεπιστήμια, πρώτα ως μεταπτυχιακός φοιτητής, έπειτα ως διδακτορικός, στη συνέχεια ως μετά-διδακτορικός και τώρα ως καθηγητής μπορώ να διαβεβαιώσω τους Έλληνες φοιτητές πως η Ολλανδία παρέχει μια διέξοδο με πολλές προοπτικές για αρκετούς για μεταπτυχιακές και διδακτορικές σπουδές και κατ’ αυτόν τον τρόπο ένα πολύ καλύτερο μέλλον, δυστυχώς ή ευτυχώς, από την ελληνική πραγματικότητα.

Σε αυτό το άρθρο θα προσπαθήσω να αναδείξω μερικές προοπτικές, κυρίως για φοιτητές πολυτεχνικών σχολών καθώς και των φυσικών επιστημών. Μία ιδανική λύση (απόφοιτος της οποίας είμαι και εγώ) είναι η αίτηση στα τεχνολογικά μεταπτυχιακά προγράμματα του Σταν Άκερμαν Ινστιτούτου τα οποία προσφέρουν πολλαπλά πλεονεκτήματα. Πέρα από το υψηλό επίπεδο των σπουδών και την αξία του μεταπτυχιακού τίτλου, προσφέρουν εννιά-μηνη πρακτική εργασία στις καλύτερες επιχειρήσεις τις Ολλανδίας καθώς και μισθό ο οποίος υπερκαλύπτει τα έξοδα διαμονής και για τα ελληνικά δεδομένα είναι εξωπραγματικός. Εγώ σπούδασα στο User System Interaction και έκανα πρακτική εργασία στην Vodafone R&D. Στη συνέχεια δούλεψα στην Philips Research και εργάστηκα στο πανεπιστήμιο του Αϊντχόβεν όπου και έκανα την διδακτορική διατριβή μου. Αυτή τη στιγμή είμαι καθηγητής στο πανεπιστήμιο της Μπρέντα: NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences.

Ένα βίντεο που καλύπτει τις γενικότερες πληροφορίες για την χώρα και το εκπαιδευτικό σύστημα:

Για περισσότερες πληροφορίες καθώς και για συμβουλευτικές υπηρεσίες μην διστάσετε να επικοινωνήσετε μαζί μου.

Η πρωτοβάθμια εκπαίδευση στην Ολλανδία

Με τον γίο μου να είναι 2 χρόνων κινήθηκε το ενδιαφέρον μου για την πρωτοβάθμια εκπαίδευση στην Ολλανδία. Από συζητήσεις μου με στελέχη δημοτικών σχολείων μπορώ να αναφέρω τα παρακάτω:

Από την ηλικία των 2 ετών, τα παιδιά μπορούν να εγγραφούν στο Peuterspelzaal ως και την ηλικία των τεσσάρων. Το Peuterspelzaal είναι σαν παιδικός σταθμός, δεν είναι υποχρεωτικός, είναι κυρίως για την ανάπτυξη της κοινωνικότητας των παιδιών, είναι μόνο για 3 εώς 4 μέρες και για 3-4 ώρες καθημερινά και είναι συνήθως παραπλήσια σε δημοτικά σχολεία (basisscholen).

Την στιγμή που το παιδί κλείνει τα 4 χρόνια, δηλαδή την ημέρα των γενεθλίων του, το παιδί μπορεί να εγγραφεί σε δημοτικό σχολείο. Από την ηλικία των 5 είναι υποχρεωτικό. Το δημοτικό διαρκεί 8 χρόνια μέχρι την ηλικία των 12 ετών.

Σε ηλικία 12 ετών τα παιδιά δίνουν ένα παν-ολλανδικό διαγώνισμα (eind-CITO toets). Το διαγώνισμα αυτό, μαζί με την γενική πορεία του παιδιού είναι καθοριστικό για την περαιτέρω εκπαίδευση του παιδιού. Το σχολείο, βασιζόμενο στο διαγώνισμα και στην πορεία του παιδιού δίνει την εκτίμησή του για το μέλλον του παιδιού. Ειδικότερα, αυτή η εκτίμηση είναι καθοριστική για εάν το παιδί θα συνεχίσει για τα υπόλοιπα 6 χρόνια στο VWO (γενικό), HAVO (τεχνικό), VMBO (δεν έχει αντίστοιχο στην Ελλάδα). Τα τελευταία είναι καθοριστικά για το εάν το παιδί θα συνεχίσει τις σπουδές του στο πανεπιστήμιο (Universiteit), στο ΤΕΙ (HBO) ή σε ΙΕΚ (College). Για παράδειγμα, εάν το παιδί πάει σε HAVO σχολείο είναι αδύνατον να σπουδάσει στο πανεπιστήμιο και πρέπει να συνεχίσει σε ΗΒΟ (ΤΕΙ). Τα ΤΕΙ παρόλαυτά είναι ιδιαίτερα αναβαθμισμένα στην Ολλανδία και η πλειοψηφία των μαθητών και των εταιρειών διαλέγει αποφοίτους των ΤΕΙ.

Interesting upcoming HCI related conferences

For an up-to-date list have a look at SIGCHI’s calendar of future events

An annual workshop I am particularly interested in is: Pervasive Advertisement

CHI Sparks, June 23, 2011

Indoor Positioning and Navigation, IPIN 2011, Paper Submission: 30 March  2011

CHI2011, 7-12 May 2011

MobileHCI 2011, Full and Short Paper submission: 18th February, 2011, Conf: 30 Aug – 2 Sep 2011

DESIRE’11-Creativity and Innovation in Design, Long+short papers, May 17, 2011, Conf:19-21 October 2011

Eindhoven – the silicon valley of Europe

A recent visit to the Philips Museum in Eindhoven, made me realize all the great entrepreneurship that Eindhoven has had in the last century. A simple example is the legendary Philishave. The first model was introduced in the market in 1939! I can’t help wondering when was it that they started researching this concept if it was actually introduced in the market in 1939. A friend tells me that the patent on this invention is one of the few that Philips is not lincencing due to the great profits that it yields up to this date.

Need customer insight and do not have the tools to get it? A new method solves this problem.

Need customer insight and do not have the tools to get it? A new method solves this problem (11-07-2007).

Having a plethora of services and products makes nowadays customers very demanding. The reality for companies who want to offer customer satisfaction is that they need to have a clear insight into the needs and wants of their customers, or their customers-to-be. That is an issue that has somewhat being fulfilled with methods such as focus-groups, interviews and more lately cultural probes, or a combination of methods. These methods have filled in a gap and have provided relatively good results. However, these methods have serious shortcomings. Therefore there is a space of opportunity in learning from the shortcomings of these methods and creating new ones, better ones. In this article I am proposing a combination of two existing methods applied mainly in social psychology: the Experiencing Sampling Method (ESM) and the Day Reconstruction Method (DRM). I begin with presenting the advantages I see in comparison with existing methods from the perspective of a company who wants to get a better insight into their customers’ experience. Then I present the way it works, a short insight into what the ESM and DRM is and where have I applied it.

The advantages

  • Provides a picture of customer experience over time. Methods already used mostly focus on events (e.g. an interview session). This method captures customer experiences over time.
  • Getting (closer to) the facts and not gathering opinions. The data usually gather by existing methods are subjective reporting of customers. This method can capture facts such as the place a participant is when he reports.
  • Stakeholders of the research (such as researchers, managers, etc.) can track data at the time it is being generated by subjects. Currently used methods, such as the diary method, provide the bulk of data at the end of the study when it is impossible to adjust and correct shortcomings of the research questions. This method provides an almost synchronous presentation of the data while the data is created by the customer.
  • Combines capturing the experience of a customer and reflecting on an overview of the captured experience. After collecting the data it might be useful to review it with the customer so that the researcher can get his reflection. With this way the researcher can understand the underlying reasons of the data.

How does it work?

  • A researcher specifies the aspects of the customer experience he wants to capture. That might be: employees’ well-being, teenagers communication needs, use of devices and energy consumption, eating habits, etc.
  • Customer inserts some initial data (intelligence) according to his lifestyle. This data can be things like places and activities. The data input is done through a website.
  • Initial data (step 2) are inserted in a mobile device. The device asks the participant aspects of his experience (step 1) and records his answers.
  • Mobile device communicates the data to a central computer. There the data is gathered and stakeholders can synchronously monitor the evolution of the study. This helps the stakeholders to adapt according to the input they get. For example, it can happen that the initial questions for capturing the customer experience are unclear or misunderstood. With other methods there is no way to alter the initial questions until the end of the study, when it is too late. With this method stakeholders have the chance to adapt and “rescue” a valuable customer input.
  • A researcher holds a debriefing interview to go into more depth to the data he got with the previous steps.

What is the Experience Sampling Method?

The ESM is a quasi-naturalistic method that involves signaling questions at subjects at random times throughout the day [1]. By using it, researchers try to capture the experience of the subject at a particular time. Although very useful in capturing a specific incident during the day, it has shortcomings such as interrupting the subject from daily activities, asking at inconvenient moments, etc.

What is the Day Reconstruction Method?

The DRM on the other hand, assess how people experience their various activities and settings of their lives [2]. Subjects in this case have to reconstruct and reflect on the activities they perform during the day. Shortcomings of the method include the accuracy and difficulty in remembering occurred events.

Where has it been applied?

The tools for combining the two methods have been developed by Vasileios-Javed Khan, a PhD researcher at the Industrial Design Department at Technische Universiteit Eindhoven. He has applied the tools to research daily communication needs of busy parents [3].


  • Kubey, R., Larson R.; Csikszentmihalyi M., “Experience sampling method applications to communication research questions”, Journal of Communication; Spring 1996; 46, 2; ABI/INFORM Global pg. 99.
  • Kahneman D., Krueger A.B., Schkade D.A., Schwarz N., Stone A.A., “A Survey Method for Characterizing Daily Life Experience: The Day Reconstruction Method” Science 306, 1776 (2004).
  • Khan, V.J., Markopoulos, P., IJsselsteijn, W., “Combining the Experience Sampling Method with the Day Reconstruction Method”, In proceedings of Chi Nederland Conferentie, 21 June 2007, Eindhoven, ISBN: 978-90-78981-01-5. Link to proceedings.