Summer 2008 Research with Janet Davis:
This document provides an overview of my project with students in summer 2008 and my expectations of those students.
Pervasive Persuasive Technology and Environmental Sustainability
My main research area is human-computer interaction. This project will
involve aspects of several subfields: persuasive technology, ubiquitous
or pervasive computing, participatory design, and Value Sensitive
Design. Experience with software design and creative design will be
beneficial; experience with electronics may also be beneficial
depending on the direction we take.
A recent document regarding Grinnell College's
net carbon emissions charges the EcoCampus committee with changing
behavior on campus to reduce carbon emissions. Although many
non-technological approaches are possible, this presents an exciting
opportunity for the application of persuasive computing:
the design of computer systems to change people's behaviors or
attitudes. This opportunity lines up well with my research interest
in the relationship between technology and human values.
are a couple of angles on the approaches I hope to take. You
might be thinking about, say, a Web-based game that tries to persuade
people to change their views about some environmental problem. Although
that is a valid approach, I am most interested in approaches that fall
into the domain of ubiquitous or pervasive computing, and especially ambient displays.
The area of ubiquitous computing looks at applications of
computing that go beyond the Web and the desktop, into the larger world. Ambient displays
convey some information through the environment---e.g., a fountain or a
moving sculpture---with the expectation that the display will usually
be at the periphery of one's attention.
I am also interested in taking a participatory design
approach. Participatory design is a family of methods and
theories that aim to include stakeholders in all parts of the design
process. As a start, I am planning a Future Workshop for March, which
engage EcoCampus committee members and other stakeholders in
considering problems with the current situation, a vision for an ideal
situation, and possible approaches (technological and
non-technological) for effecting change. I hope that several
problems will emerge that might be addressed using the kinds of
technology considered above. Our use of participatory design this
summer will certainly include rapid prototyping and getting feedback on
several different ideas, and may also include design games, site
visits, and other such activities.
I intend that students
will contribute to idea generation, interacting with stakeholders, and the
development of multiple low-fidelity prototypes and at least one
working prototype. Students with appropriate background may
also contribute to planning an evaluation study and carrying it out
during the following academic year as a continuation of the MAP.
I am looking for students who
have experience in software design or HCI, and ideally both. Confidence
in learning new languages and tools will be very important; development
will likely involve the use of a toolkit for physical interfaces such
as Phidgets or the Handy Cricket. Experience with a variety of
languages is a plus, as is experience with art, electronics, or design
of studies involving human subjects.
Students who apply for the project should read my position paper,
submitted to the Workshop on Pervasive Persuasive Technology and
Environmental Sustainability, at the 6th International Conference on
Much of this schedule follows the official divisional schedule for
summer research. I will certainly understand if a student accepts a
position with me and later chooses to take a more attractive position
elsewhere. In that case, I will notify students on my waiting list.
Our summer schedule may be adjusted by up to a week or so.
- Monday, Feb. 18: Application forms due. You must submit the
division-wide form to the division office and your responses to my application form via email to me.
- Monday, Mar. 10: Initial selections announced.
- Friday, Mar. 14: Deadline for accepting or rejecting the offer.
- Week of Apr. 7: First meeting.
- Additional spring meetings.
- Monday, May 5: Part A of MAP applications due.
- Monday, May 19: Commencement.
- Thursday, May 29: Summer resesarch begins.
- Monday, June 2: Part B of MAP applications due.
- Wednesday, Aug. 6: Summer research concludes.
I have high expectations of my summer
research students. I will expect my summer students to begin their work
in the spring and continue it into the fall (and perhaps beyond). By
applying for summer research you are agreeing to meet these
expectations. You are unlikely to receive explicit credit or
compensation for work in the spring and fall.
Students will work in a team of two.
- Topic preparation
- You will be expected to begin
your background research during the
spring. In particular, you must review papers I have cited and
identify at least four additional papers on
related projects. Sources to consider include the ACM Digial Library
(particularly proceedings of the CHI and UbiComp conferences),
proceedings of the Pervasive Computing conference, and proceedings of
the Participatory Design Conference. You are
also encouraged to use the Web and, once you've identified potentially
useful resources, to consult with the librarians about using Science
- Skill preparation
- If your project will require a programming language,
data language, toolkit, or application that you do not yet know, you are expected to begin
studying it. You need not master it, but should begin to develop some
During the summer, you are expected to work full time on the project:
40-50 hours per week for ten weeks. This work will include scheduled
daily group meetings and collaborative work time (e.g., pair
programming or team design sessions). Working with stakeholders may
require occasional evening or weekend work, depending on their availability. In short, your schedule will be flexible, but not
- Topic preparation
- For the first week or so of summer research, you will continue your
preparation from the spring, developing a survey of "the state of the
art" in whatever project you've decided to undertake. You should
prepare a short survey paper. On the first day of the second week,
you'll give a public presentation of your work.
- Core research
- For the next eight weeks of the summer, you will work on your
project, using what you've learned during preparation for guidance.
Some of this time may be spent continuing to develop skills.
- For the last week of the summer (and, preferably, as you do your
work), you will write a five-to-ten page paper describing your
work and placing it in the context of related work. Your paper should
meet the highest standards of writing at Grinnell. Students working as
part of a group need prepare only one paper. You will probably be
required to submit a version of this paper to a conference or journal.
(I may provide significant assistance in developing
the submitted version, in which case I will be listed as a co-author.)
Fall and Beyond
- Poster presentation
- You will create a poster describing your work and present it at
the Grinnell Science Poster Seminar (typically during Parents' Weekend).
- Internal public presentation
- You will give a 25- to 50-minute presentation on your work as part of the Thursday Extras colloquium series.
- External conference presentation
- If your work is submitted to and accepted by a conference, and
there is funding available for you to attend, you will be expected to
attend and present your work.
- External presentation
- You must submit your
work to the Midstates Science and Mathematics Consortium
Fall Symposium on Undergraduate Research in the Physical and
Mathematical Sciences. You must attend the symposium (including
non-cs talks) and present your work (in poster or talk form) if
your work is accepted. You must give at least one practice talk
before going to the conference. I will join you if I am able.
Janet Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Created February 6, 2008
Last modified February 7, 2008
With thanks to Sam Rebelsky: http://www.cs.grinnell.edu/~rebelsky/Department/samr-summer-2007.html