Computing Infrastructure Projects

  • The Walden’s Paths project involves developing tools that allow K-12 educators to organize World-Wide Web material for their students’ use. The Internet provides students with a wealth of multimedia materials that must be tailored before they can be used in the classroom. Walden’s Paths allows teachers to make use of these materials by creating directed paths that students can follow to obtain a cohesive view of the collected material, browse off the path freely, and then return to the path.
  • The Visual Knowledge Builder (VKB) is a second generation spatial hypertext system following work done on VIKI by Cathy Marshall and Frank Shipman. Traditionally, building knowledge-based systems has been a process involving professional knowledge engineers. While this process works for well-defined tasks in limited domains, it is too expensive for domains where the representation must change frequently and is not feasible for problems where experts’ understanding of the domain and task changes during the course of problem solving. The alternative approach investigated in this project is one of “incremental formalization.” This approach allows users to initially enter their understanding of their domain, task, and solutions in less formal representations and provides computer support for the gradual formalization of this knowledge.
  • Interactive timelines as interfaces to information systems: This project explores the application of interactive timelines as a means of organizing events and representing their representations.
  • combinFormation is an interactive visual system that uses composition of image+text surrogates to represent information while a person is searching, browsing, and collecting. The system draws from direct manipulation and the assistance of agents for collecting and visual composition. Each composition serves as a navigable visual representation of a collection. The agents learn to model the user’s interests. The model drives their generative processes of collecting and composing. We draw on visual stimulation and memory to add value to collections and support information discovery.
  • The caT project investigates the structure and semantics of human-computer interaction; specifically in the context of hypertext/hypermedia systems, building from the earlier Trellis project. As with all hypertext systems, caT and Trellis permit the identification of information objects (e.g., nodes) and the definition of their relationships (e.g., links). Beyond this, the Trellis information structure, called a “hyperprogram,” also directs the way in which the reader uses the information (i.e., the reader’s browsing semantics). In other words, a Trellis hyperprogram integrates task with information. The design work, which has been ongoing since 1988, is based on Petri nets. This representation provides a usable compromise between fully-programmable but non-analyzable representations, such as those used in general programming languages, and fully-analyzable but non-programmable representations, such as that provided by pure HTML as used on the World-Wide Web. Results from the Trellis project are being used in the Walden’s Paths project to improve the authoring of educational content on the Internet.