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Initiatives in Digital Technology: 2004–05 Funded Proposals

Joe Konstan, Loren Terveen

Eye-Tracking Research on Community Websites: Photo Directories and Building Social Networks

This proposal combines the acquisition of a major piece of shared equipment—an eye-tracking system—with its use to conduct studies of on-line community user interfaces. The primary goal of this research is to study different mechanisms and interfaces for eliciting social network information in an online community. This information is useful for a variety of tasks, including introductions and forming "spanning groups" for program committees, advisory boards, etc. It also helps form more cohesive groups.

We will conduct this research in the online community (a professional community of over 2000 people in the human-computer interaction field). Besides forming a useful testbed for the research, CHIplace is built upon our own research infrastructure, allowing us to take these results and roll them out in on-line systems to support other communities.

In addition to using eye-tracking to study how users react to different images and text, this proposal will equip the usability laboratory (in Walter B-26) with eye-tracking equipment for a variety of future studies. Both researchers on campus and potential industrial partners have expressed interest in being able to study how people actually perceive visualizations, web pages, and other interactive documents. Having this equipment, and expertise in using it, will position the DTC to build new partnerships with industry and compete even more effectively for external funding.

Contact Information

Digital Technology Center

499 Walter Library, 117 Pleasant Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455

P: (612) 624-9510

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