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Steven Dow visits UCSC

Steven Dow (Ph.D., Postdoctural Scholar, Stanford University) is giving two talks at UCSC on Monday, April 5.

“How Prototyping Practices Affect Design Results”

Time: 11:00 am

Place: E2 – 280


Design shapes the world we inhabit, both digital and physical. Yet surprisingly often, the design process fails to uncover the real needs and desires of people. How can designers and developers more effectively prototype? My research examines the creative process through lab experimentation. I will describe research on iteration and comparison, two key principles for discovering contextual design variables and their interrelationships. We found that, even under tight time constraints when the common intuition is to stop iterating and start refining, iterative prototyping helps designers learn. Our results also indicate that creating and receiving feedback on multiple prototypes in parallel—as opposed to serially—leads to more divergent ideation, more explicit comparison, less investment in a single concept, and better overall design performance.

Steven will also be giving a talk on his latest CHI paper in E2-392 from 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm.

Eliza meets the Wizard-of-Oz: Blending Machine and Human Control of Embodied Characters

Time: 1:00 pm

Place: E2 – 392


How should we design interfaces for amateur operators to control embodied character experiences? This paper explores two different “wizard” roles for human operators during a three-month gallery installation of AR Façade. In the Transcription role, human operators type players’ spoken utterances; then, algorithms interpret the player’s intention, choose from pre-authored dialogue based on local and global narrative contexts, and procedurally animate two embodied characters. In the Discourse role, human operators select from semantic categories to interpret player intention; algorithms use this “discourse act” to automate character dialogue and animation. We compare these two methods of blending control using game logs and interviews, and document how the amateur operators initially resisted having to learn the Discourse version, but eventually benefited from having the authorial control it afforded.

All interested are invited.


Steven Dow is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the HCI Group at Stanford University where he researches human-computer interaction, creative problem-solving, prototyping practices, and computing for education and entertainment. He is a co-recipient of a Hasso Plattner Design Thinking Research Grant 2009-10. He received an MS and PhD in Human-Centered Computing from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a BS in Industrial Engineering from University of Iowa.

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