Most research in networking has focused on “traditional” issues, such as bandwidth, scalability, latency, and so forth. What if we were to look at networking instead from a human-centered perspective? What traits would we care about then? Most likely, things like understandability, maintainability, evolvability, and installability.
Our lab is engaged in a number of projects aimed at what we call human-centered networking. Through these projects we are seeking to understand the causes of digital complexity in the home and how householders cope with these difficulties, as well as develop new tools and technologies to improve the experience of home networking.
Our empirical work in this space includes in-home qualitative investigations focused on understanding users’ needs and practices, analyses of householder-generated sketches of their home networks to uncover end-users’ conceptual models of networking, the development of a range of “ground truth” datasets of home network performance and behavior, and a series of studies aimed at understanding the social dynamics of network use in the home.
We are also engaging in technical work aimed at creating a set of tools, infrastructures, and interaction techniques that provide a better match for users’ needs and practices. These projects include the development of visual tools for home network management, the creation of new infrastructure components (routers and access points) for the home network intended to improve the user experience for users, and exploration of new management protocols effective in the home network context.