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Accelerating Discovery: A Grand Challenge for HCI

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Information visualization tools are a growing success story, as users find that they can comprehend larger data sets and find key features more rapidly. This talk will show examples such as multi-variate data (, treemaps (, and temporal data (TimeSearcher, These discovery tools are a research topic with high risk but potentially very high payoff. The goal is to develop improved user interfaces for creativity support tools that empower diverse users in the sciences, engineering and design to explore alternatives rapidly. Enhanced interfaces could enable more effective searching of intellectual resources, improved collaboration among teams, and more rapid discovery processes. These advanced interfaces should also provide potent support in goal setting, speedier exploration of alternatives, improved understanding through visualization, and better dissemination of results (demos will be shown). For creative endeavors that require composition of novel artifacts (computer programs, engineering diagrams, symphonies, animations, artwork), enhanced interfaces could facilitate rapid exploration of alternatives, prevent unproductive choices, and enable easy backtracking. Two key human factors issues are (1) Formulation of guidelines for design of creativity support tools (2) Novel research methods to assess creativity support tools – for example, Multi-dimensional In-Depth, Long-term Case studies (MILCs). These issues will be the core of the June 2007 Conference on Creativity and Cognition in Washington, DC (

This talk is part of the Microsoft Research Cambridge, general interest public talks series.

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