Projects

We are interested in analyzing how people write together.  Google Docs allows us to look at the Revision History, at who did what and at what time.  By visualizing this history, we can detect patterns of writing.  We have a tool, called DocuViz, that shows the authorship (in color) and placement and size of the contribution in each stored revision “slice.”  The tool is not only helpful for researchers but can also help authors reflect on their own writing strategies and styles.

Are you working on a collaborative project, with people in other organizations and/or locations, that doesn't seem to be as effective as it could be? Based on nearly 2 decades of research on scientific collaboratories, the Collaboration Success Wizard is a web-based service that asks members of a project about their collaboration whether it's currently ongoing, occurred in the past, or is being planned for the future. The Wizard can identify potential vulnerabilities and areas for improvement, based on an individual respondent's answers, and can suggest things to do and to discuss as starting points for overcoming them. In addition, the Collaboration Success Wizard team will review and analyze the aggregate responses from a project and provide feedback to the project.

Google Apps are being deployed in thousands of organizations around the world, including schools and universities. We are examining the adoption and use of these cloud-based services on four campuses of the University of California system. We are interested to learn how Google Apps may go beyond simply replacing existing IT services to being integrated into the classroom curricula and the research activities of these learning environments.

We have been studying a variety of collaboratories, first in science and then in other fields of academia. Our book, Science on the Internet (2008) compiled 20 years of work studying both the kinds of collaboratories there are, the factors that must be in place for them to be successful, and the special challenges each type of collaboratory faces.   We have identified over 400 Collaboratories (distributed teams) in the Sciences and Humanities and complied descriptions and basic facts about each, a public resources called the Science of Collaboratories (SOC) database.

At points in some collaboratively written documents like policy statements or regulations it is important to know who wrote what.  Knowing who wrote a section will tell you who to talk to if you want to make a particular change.  We have developed an Chrome extension called AuthorViz that shows the entire document, color coded by who wrote what.  It is constructed from the stream of data that makes up the revision history.  It is available in the Chrome Store. 

Some early drafts of collaboratively written documents have points where the style changes abruptly.  Editors can catch these and suggest ways to make the document have a single voice.  We are building an expert system that detects these abrupt changes automatically.  We call this system "Novox" meaning new voice.  We will seek to both detect these and suggest ways in which to change parts to have a single voice or style.

Children with various medical conditions cannot go to school, but now can "go to school" on a telepresence robot.   These robots project the child's face on a remote system whose position and movement the child can control.  These robots have been used in work settings for remote workers, and in medical settings for bringing specialists into a medical consultation.  But school is a very different environment, where children are not only attending class, but then walking the halls, participating in lunch and even going to the gym.  It provides them not only the schooling but also the connectivity with their friends.

The field of technology has many fewer women than warranted.  A number of efforts are underway to encourage young girls and college age women to be interested in and stay interested in computing and information systems.  We are studying a new effort to get post-college women who want to change careers to learn computing in an open, friendly, and connected environment.  We have some observations and insights into why this is a new, fruitful opportunity to increase the number of women in computing.