Future Computing Environments

Weekly Discussion Group on Future Computing Environments

Winter Quarter 1997

CS 8011D

Alternative User Interfaces

Time and Place: Mondays 4:30-6:00pm, Room 102, College of Computing


General information

Current week

Previous quarters

The general focus this quarter is on alternative user interfaces. By alternative, we mean any interface that moves away from the now traditional GUI desktop with keyboard/mouse for input and graphic display as output.

Possible topics to cover this quarter are:



Gregory Abowd

On-line meeting notes


No meeting (Martin Luther King holiday)


The Limits of Direct Manipulation
Jen Mankoff

In order to discuss the limits of DM, we need to define it (Hutchin's paper helps with this) and to think about other types of interfaces with which we can compare it. Try to come up with one example of a non-direct manipulation interface, and compare it's abilities and limits to those of DM interfaces.

From the readings, please pay special attention to Hutchin's discussion of problems with Direct Manipulation (starts p. 336). I also found the violin-piano example on p. 328 to be interesting. In the Bowman & Hodges paper, think about the needs (and limitations) of 3D and VR interfaces with respect to direct manipulation. The Neurosurgical Planning paper is a good "story" paper for direct manipulation.

They are be available for photocopying in my office.

"Assigned" Papers (Bibliography)
Pointers to other interesting material


2-D interfaces are not a done deal
Ian Smith

In reading these papers, keep in mind the notion of a "view" in the interface. In the case of paper 1 there are lots of views presented by the lenses. In the second paper, he talks about the different "views" that the different card players need in the gin example. Finally, in the last paper there are many smaller views of the main view. Note that in all of these papers, the "view" is not a dead bunch of bits (a picture), but an interactive component/system in its own right.


Gary Boone

For this discussion of Agents, let's focus our discussion on three articles from last December's IEEE Expert: Intelligent Systems & Their Applications Special Issue on Intelligent Agents. These articles were chosen for the following reason: The first paper captures the hype and demand for agents. The second is a reasonable critique of the approach. The third offers a number of definitions and techniques. Do these papers all agree about what an agent is? Is 'agent' well-defined technically, or just another Holy Grail?
Papers/Pointers (all from IEEE Expert: Intelligent Systems & Their Applications Special Issue on Intelligent Agents, Volume 1, Number 6. Published by the IEEE Computer Society.)
Notes on discussion


Alternative interfaces to the home
Jonathan Somers

The topic for this meeting is intelligent building design issues, with emphasis on the HCI issues of interacting with a smart building. (This may not be apparent from the readings.) We'll discuss many issues, such as voice/telephony interfaces, but the main points are the problem of minimizing surface area between user and computer - a.k.a less HCI is better HCI - and the use of natural affordances in HCI design, or designing into the environment rather than changing the env to suit the design.


Privacy issues
Joe Bayes

We've been sidestepping this issue too much. Does ubiquitous computing mean ubiquitous intrusion? The paper for this monday is "Architectural Considerations for Scalable, Secure, Mobile Computing with Location Information" by Mike Spreitzer and Marvin Theimer. Copies are available outside Gregory's door. I'm also going to put a few copies of a blurb that Richard Stallman wrote in this month's CACM, "The Right to Read". It doesn't entirely pertain to privacy, but is short and kinda interesting anyway. Also, if you want, you can check out .


Video conferencing
Rob Orr

This week, we will talk about videoconferencing, esp. in the context of design and collaboration. As most of you know, the College will be splitting into three locations come end of Spring quarter (actually, we've already split into two locations). Hopefully, these papers will give us a little insight into the usefulness of having video walls in each of the three locations and guide us in how to best use them.


Non-traditional 2D interfaces - Lenses
Roy Rodenstein


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