IDC seminar – SenseMap: Supporting Browser-based Sensemaking through Analytic Provenance

July 12, 2016 at 11:00 am

Phong Nguyen, PhD student with IDC

Phong Sensemaking is described as the process of comprehension, finding meaning and gaining insight from information, producing new knowledge and informing further action. Very often, users get lost when solving a complicated task using a big dataset over a long period of exploration and analysis. They may forget what they have done, are not aware of where they are in the context of the overall task, and do not know where to continue. In this paper, we introduce a tool, SenseMap, to address these issues in the context of browser-based online sensemaking. We conducted a semi-structured interview with nine participants to explore how they search, manage, and synthesize online information for their daily work activities. This was followed by a series of design workshops to walk the user scenarios, generate design questions, and formulate solutions relating to user interactions, tool features and manifestation. A simplified model based on Pirolli and Card’s sensemaking model is derived to better represent the browser behaviors we found and to guide the development of design requirements: users iteratively collect information sources relevant to the task, curate them in a way that makes sense, and finally communicate the findings to others. SenseMap automatically captures a user’s sensemaking actions, i.e., analytic provenance, and provides multi-linked views to visualize and curate the collected information, and communicate the findings. To explore how SenseMap is used, we conducted a user study in a naturalistic work setting with five participants completing the same sensemaking task related to their daily work activities. Most of the participants found the tool intuitive to use. It helped them to organize information sources, to quickly navigate to the sources they wanted, and enabled them to effectively communicate their findings. A process model is also derived based on both quantitative and qualitative data analysis.

IDC seminar – BCS-HCI 2016 Practice Talks (15 min each)

July 5, 2016 at 11:00 am

Understanding 3D Mid-Air Hand Gestures with Interactive Surfaces and Displays: A Systematic Literature Review

Celeste Groenewald, Middlesex

Presentation slides

Celeste Groenewald Profile3D gesture based systems are becoming ubiquitous and there are many mid-air hand gestures that exist for interacting with digital surfaces. There is no well-defined gesture set for 3D mid-air hand gestures which makes it difficult to develop applications that have consistent gestures. To understand what gestures exist we conducted the first comprehensive systematic literature review on mid-air hand gestures following existing research methods. The results of the review identified 65 papers where the mid-air hand gestures supported tasks for selection, navigation, and manipulation. We also classified the gestures according to a gesture classification scheme and identified how these gestures have been empirically evaluated. The results of the review provide a richer understanding of what mid-air hand gestures have been designed, implemented, and evaluated in the literature which can help developers design better user experiences for digital interactive surfaces and displays.

Celeste is a second year PhD student at Middlesex University and is working on the VALCRI project (WP3): Insight and Sense-making in Criminal Intelligence Analysis.

Common ground in collaborative intelligence analysis: an empirical study

Dr Sean Xavier Laurence

Presentation slides



In this talk, I will briefly cover an empirical exploration of how different configurations of collaboration technology affect peoples’ ability to construct and maintain common ground while conducting collaborative intelligence analysis work. Unlike prior studies of collaboration technology that have typically focused on simpler conversational tasks, or ones that involve physical manipulation, the tasks in this study presented focuses on the complex sensemaking and inference involved in intelligence work. The study explores the effects of video communication and shared visual workspace (SVW) on the negotiation of common ground by distributed teams collaborating in real time on intelligence analysis tasks. We theorised that the effect and value of communication cues, visual cues and awareness nuances, is attenuated when communication is mediated via video, more so than it is for shared visual workspace mediated-communication. In this sense, teams utilizing a remote collaborative framework with fewer visual cues might be expected to work harder to maintain common ground, and vice versa.

The experimental study uses a 2×2 factorial, between-subjects design involving two independent variables: presence or absence of Video and SVW. Two-member teams were randomly assigned to one of four experimental media conditions and worked to complete several intelligence analysis tasks involving multiple, complex intelligence artefacts. Teams with access to the shared visual workspace could view their teammates’ eWhiteboards. Our results demonstrate a significant effect for the shared visual workspace: the effort of conversational grounding is reduced in the cases where SVW is available. However, there were no main effects for video and no interaction between the two variables. Also, we found that the “conversational grounding effort” required tended to decrease over the course of the task.

Dr Sean Xavier Laurence has recently taken up a lecturing position at the Joint Intelligence Training Group, Royal School of Military Survey, THATCHAM, UK, where he leads the MSc teaching modules in Human-Computer Interaction & Information Systems.

Towards an Approach for Analysing External Representations Created During Sensemaking Using Generative Grammar

Efeosasere Okoro and Simon Attfield (presenting)

Presentation slides

Defe_okorouring sensemaking, users often create external representations to help them make sense of what they know, and what they need to know. In doing so, they necessarily adopt or construct some form of representational language using the tools at hand. By describing such languages implicit in representations we believe that we are better able to describe and differentiate what users do and better able to describe and differentiate interfaces that might support them. Drawing on approaches to the analysis of language, and in particular, Mann and Thompson’s Rhetorical Structure Theory, we analyse the representations that users create to expose their underlying ‘visual grammar’. We do this in the context of a user study involving evidential reasoning. Participants were asked to address an adapted version of the IEEE VAST 2011 mini challenge 3 (interpret a potential terrorist plot implicit in a set of news reports). We show  how our approach enables the unpacking of  heterogeneous and embedded nature of user-generated representations and allows us to show how  visual grammars can evolve and become more complex over time in response to evolving sensemaking needs.

simonDr Simon Attfield is Associate Professor of Human Centred Technology at the Interaction Design Centre, Middlesex University. His research involves understanding how people think about and work with information, processes involved in sensemaking, and implications for interactive systems design, including the design and evaluation of information visualisation. He has conducted user-research in military signals intelligence and patterns of life analysis, crime-analysis, news writing, corporate investigations and healthcare. He teaches Human Computer Interaction and Interaction Design. He received a B.A. in Philosophy and a BSc. in Experimental Psychology from Sussex University, and a PhD in Human Computer Interaction from University College London.

Rethinking Decision Making in Complex Work Settings: Beyond Human Cognition to the Social Landscape

Nallini Selvaraj (presenting) and Bob Fields

Presentation slides

Nallini-smallThis paper presents a fusion of ideas across disciplines to study and conceptualize decision making. Typically, decision making is approached as a cognitive process. Nevertheless, there is a growing shift in perception towards decision making as more than a cerebral activity to one being situated, embedded and embodied in the social landscape of work activities. Research addressing these aspects is still in its infancy and more work is required to develop the notions. The research presented in here makes a theoretical contribution to this shift. Taking a Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) perspective, this paper explores how decision making is articulated in the cooperative arrangement of a complex work setting. In the process, it explicates the situated, embedded and embodied nature of decision making. The paper reflects on conventional notions of decision making and demonstrates its differentiated nature during every day work performance in a real-world complex work setting.

IDC seminar – Enabling Provenance on the Web: Standardization and Research Questions

June 21, 2016 at 11:00 am

Professor Luc Moreau,

Head of the Web and Internet Science group (WAIS),

Department of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), University of Southampton.

luc_smallProvenance is a record that describes the people, institutions, entities, and activities, involved in producing, influencing, or delivering a piece of data or a thing in the world.

Some 10 years after beginning research on the topic of provenance, I co-chaired the provenance working group at the World Wide Web Consortium. The working group published the PROV standard for provenance in 2013.

In this talk, I will present some use cases for provenance, the PROV standard and some flagship examples of adoption. I will then move on to our current research area aiming to exploit provenance, in the context of the Sociam, SmartSociety, ORCHID, EBook projects. Doing so, I will present techniques to deal with large scale provenance, to build predictive models based on provenance, and to analyse
provenance. I will also discuss how provenance can help with reproducibility, in the context of scientific workflows developed for qualitative analysis in social sciences.


Luc Moreau is a Professor of Computer Science and Head of the Web and Internet Science group (WAIS), in the department Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton.

Luc was co-chair of the W3C Provenance Working Group, which resulted in four W3C Recommendations and nine W3C Notes, specifying PROV, a conceptual data model for provenance the Web, and its serializations in various Web languages. Previously, he initiated the successful Provenance Challenge series, which saw the involvement of over 20 institutions investigating provenance inter-operability in 3 successive challenges, and which resulted in the specification of the community Open Provenance Model (OPM).


Visitor: Dr Sophie Cockcroft, University of Queensland

June 18, 2016 at 12:43 pm


Dr Sophie Cockcroft was visiting the IDC in the week June 13-17 from the University of Queensland Business School in Brisbane Australia. She spent some time discussing methods used in literature reviews with research students and the pitfalls around writing them. She presented emerging work on a literature review she is working on relating to Big Data in Financial Management. During her time here she also built on this to with Professor William Wong, Dr Sylvia Gottschalk and Celeste Groenewald to come up with a concept for a project for visualising data on liquidity and value of specific contracts in credit risk modelling.


June 14, 2016 at 11:00 am

Dr Sophie Cockcroft, University of Queensland,  Australia

sophie-cockcroft-editedInformation Systems to support the finance and accounting function within organisations form the backbone of modern commerce. Big data has brought a transformational change to this research space the effects of which are starting to be felt in industry and academia. This paper examines the potential research opportunities for the use of “Big Data” in accounting and finance research.  We examine existing accounting and finance literature to identify the current research approaches. An analysis is presented of 25 accounting and finance journals from 2009-2014 to identify key themes emerging. These are presented as a taxonomy and explored by means of this taxonomy


Sophie teaches and researches in Information Systems at the University of Queensland Business School. Her teaching interests include Business Intelligence and Analytics. With other colleagues in the business school she is exploring the use of big data in finance, sport, health and other applications. She has previously worked at the University of Otago (New Zealand) and City University of Hong Kong.