Publication statistics

Pub. period:1996-2012
Pub. count:58
Number of co-authors:58



Co-authors

Number of publications with 3 favourite co-authors:

Eleanor F. Toye:6
Margaret M. Burnett:6
Jennifer Ann Rode:4

 

 

Productive colleagues

Alan Blackwell's 3 most productive colleagues in number of publications:

Brad A. Myers:154
Mary Beth Rosson:142
Margaret M. Burnet..:103
 
 
 
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Alan Blackwell

Picture of Alan Blackwell.
Has also published under the name of:
"Alan F. Blackwell" and "A. Blackwell"

Personal Homepage:
http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~afb21/

Current place of employment:
University of Cambridge

I only have one big research question, but I attack it from a lot of different angles. The question is representation. How do people make, see and use things that carry meaning? The angles from which I attack my question include various ways in which representations are applied (including design processes, interacting with technology, computer programming, visualisation), various methods by which I collect research data (including controlled experiments, prototype construction, ethnographic observation), and the theoretical perspectives of various academic disciplines (including computer science, cognitive psychology, engineering, architecture, music, anthropology).

If you are based in Cambridge, you may like to attend the following talks on human-computer interaction.

This page lists a few large research themes and major projects illustrating them. Smaller projects, including contributions to research communities and research-related teaching, are described on my publications page, and other activities page.

Crucible: Research in Interdisciplinary Design

Crucible is the Cambridge network for research in interdisciplinary design, which I founded with David Good. The network encompasses very many projects, funding sources and collaborators. Crucible projects include practical design work (as commercial consultants or in academic contexts) that draws on multiple disciplinary perspectives. We also carry out a significant amount of design research - investigating the processes of design work, developing facilitation processes for design activity, informing public policy related to the design of public value from academic research, and creating new and experimental software tools for designers to use. Many of these projects draw on my core expertise in visual representation.

Software and Creativity

Many contemporary arts practitioners develop software, incorporate it into their work, or use software tools to extend their professional practice. This research theme involves collaboration with a wide range of artists, including many with international profiles, exploring the ways in which they use representations. We have created a wide range of new software tools and programming languages for composers, performers, choreographers, sculptors and others. Many of these projects are linked via the Crucible page.

Social Media and Activism

Internet technology research is crucially dependent on understanding the social dynamics of the ways in which it is used, and collaboration with social scientists is essential to provide intellectual rigor and new insights. These projects have investigated the design and deployment of new social media, both in the world at large (various professional and political contexts), and within the University itself. In all cases, the representation of social relations around and within technical systems has been critical to understanding and the development of new understanding among all stakeholders. Many of these projects are linked via the Crucible page.

Energy Monitoring and Usage

Electricity is invisible, so our awareness of environmental impacts arising from energy use is solely dependent on the quality of the visual representations provided of energy use. Ever since contributing to the design of the first generation of semi-smart domestic gas meters in 1991, I have taken an interest in the user interface of home energy controls and monitoring. Several of our projects are concerned with helping people understand and control the patterns of energy usage in their homes. Many of these projects are linked via the Crucible page.

PhD Students' Research

  • Michal Kosinski - psychological instruments for the assessment of business value in social networking technologies.
  • Mo Syed - design techniques for incorporating social factors in technology development.
  • Luke Church - social, cognitive, philosophical, artistic and technical perspectives on the manipulation of information.
  • Chris Nash - Supporting Virtuosity and Flow in Computer Music.
  • Cecily Morrison - Bodies-in-Space: investigating technology usage in co-present group interaction (thesis). Now a Research Associate in the Cambridge Engineering Design Centre.
  • Lorisa Dubuc - Design research to assist conversation in dementia.
  • Darren Edge - Tangible user interfaces for peripheral interaction (thesis). Now at Microsoft Research Asia, Beijing.
  • Nick Collins - Autonomous Agents for Live Computer Music (co-supervised with Ian Cross) (thesis). Now a lecturer in Computer Music at the University of Sussex.
  • Martyn Dade-Robertson - the application of architectural design principles to the design of software navigation (co-supervised with Francois Penz and Maureen Thomas). Now a lecturer in Architecture and Communication at Newcastle University

Older projects (some sites no longer maintained)

AutoHAN: Control Interfaces for Home Automation

In Autohan we were trying to solve the basic problems of home control, where a multitude of devices must interact with each other and the residents in a sensible manner. One output was the tangible programming language "Media Cubes".

EUSES: End-Users Shaping Effective Software

The EUSES Consortium is an NSF-funded collaboration with researchers at Oregon State University, Carnegie Mellon University, Drexel University, Penn State University, and the University of Nebraska whose goal is to develop and investigate technologies for enabling End Users to Shape Effective Software.

Vital Signs: New Paradigms for Visual Interaction

EPSRC funded project, now complete, investigating notations, abstraction, representation and interaction in a metaphor-free theoretical framework.

Cognitive Dimensions of Notations

Long-term dissemination and archival of material related to the Cognitive Dimensions of Notations usability framework, including publishing and professional education projects.

Dasher

Collaboration with the Cavendish Laboratory Inference Group - Dasher is a data entry interface incorporating language modelling and driven by continuous two-dimensional gestures. More general implications are in how we can interact with adaptive "intelligent" interfaces.

Webkit: Intuitive Physical Interface to the Web

European-funded research project, now complete (and various partners disappeared) designing tangible user interfaces that can be used in classrooms to access the web, control query engines, and stucture discussion.

EUDNET: Network of Excellence in End-User Development

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Publications by Alan Blackwell (bibliography)

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2012

Blackwell, Alan (2012). Commentary on 'Semiotics' by Clarisse Sieckenius de Souza

2011

Blackwell, Alan (2013): Visual Representation. In: Soegaard, Mads and Dam, Rikke Friis (eds.). "The Encyclopedia of Human-Computer Interaction, 2nd Ed.". Aarhus, Denmark: The Interaction Design Foundation. Available online at http://www.interaction-design.org/encyclopedia/visual_representation.html

Blackwell, Alan (2011). Commentary on 'End-User Development' by Margaret M. Burnett and Christopher Scaffidi

 
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Ko, Andrew J., Abraham, Robin, Beckwith, Laura, Blackwell, Alan, Burnett, Margaret M., Erwig, Martin, Scaffidi, Christopher, Lawrance, Joseph, Lieberman, Henry, Myers, Brad A., Rosson, Mary Beth, Rothermel, Gregg, Shaw, Mary and Wiedenbeck, Susan (2011): The State of the Art in End-User Software Engineering. In ACM Computing Surveys, 43 (3) pp. 1-44

Most programs today are written not by professional software developers, but by people with expertise in other domains working towards goals for which they need computational support. For example, a teacher might write a grading spreadsheet to save time grading, or an interaction designer might use an interface builder to test some user interface design ideas. Although these end-user programmers may not have the same goals as professional developers, they do face many of the same software engineering challenges, including understanding their requirements, as well as making decisions about design, reuse, integration, testing, and debugging. This article summarizes and classifies research on these activities, defining the area of End-User Software Engineering (EUSE) and related terminology. The article then discusses empirical research about end-user software engineering activities and the technologies designed to support them. The article also addresses several crosscutting issues in the design of EUSE tools, including the roles of risk, reward, and domain complexity, and self-efficacy in the design of EUSE tools and the potential of educating users about software engineering principles.

© All rights reserved Ko et al. and/or ACM Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

End-User Development: [/encyclopedia/end-user_development.html]


 
2010
 
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Blythe, Mark, McCarthy, John, Light, Ann, Bardzell, Shaowen, Wright, Peter, Bardzell, Jeffrey and Blackwell, Alan (2010): Critical dialogue: interaction, experience and cultural theory. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2010 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2010. pp. 4521-4524

Although topics such as fun, enjoyment, aesthetics, and experience are relatively new in HCI, long traditions of scholarship in the humanities and social sciences have examined them. Some have already been expressed in the appropriation of conceptualizations of experience in HCI research and practice. There is also a small but fast growing body of work in HCI seeking to approach these topics from the perspective of cultural and critical theory. In the history of ideas, experience and critical theory have not always made good bedfellows, sometimes complementing each other, sometimes resisting each other. This workshop will explore the ways in which HCI can benefit from a constructive dialogue between critical theory and experience in questions of design and evaluation.

© All rights reserved Blythe et al. and/or their publisher

 
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Blackwell, Alan and Fincher, Sally (2010): PUX: patterns of user experience. In Interactions, 17 (2) pp. 27-31

2009
 
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Blackwell, Alan and Edge, Darren (2009): Articulating tangible interfaces. In: Villar, Nicolas, Izadi, Shahram, Fraser, Mike and Benford, Steve (eds.) TEI 2009 - Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction February 16-18, 2009, Cambridge, UK. pp. 113-118.

 
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Edge, Darren and Blackwell, Alan (2009): Peripheral tangible interaction by analytic design. In: Villar, Nicolas, Izadi, Shahram, Fraser, Mike and Benford, Steve (eds.) TEI 2009 - Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction February 16-18, 2009, Cambridge, UK. pp. 69-76.

 
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Edge, Darren and Blackwell, Alan (2009): Bimanual tangible interaction with mobile phones. In: Villar, Nicolas, Izadi, Shahram, Fraser, Mike and Benford, Steve (eds.) TEI 2009 - Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Tangible and Embedded Interaction February 16-18, 2009, Cambridge, UK. pp. 131-136.

 
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Blackwell, Alan, Rode, Jennifer Ann and Toye, Eleanor F. (2009): How do we Program the Home? Gender, Attention Investment, and the Psychology of Programming at Home. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 67 (4) pp. 324-41.

 
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Morrison, Cecily and Blackwell, Alan (2009): Hospital user research using new media arts. In: Proceedings of the HCI09 Conference on People and Computers XXIII 2009. pp. 345-353

This paper presents a comparative analysis of group interaction around two display types, shared and individual, using a 'new media' arts application as a way to explore the physical technology setup for an intensive care unit in a hospital. We propose this method for laboratory settings when the research questions derive from socially complex environments, but real-world interventions are not possible. While users solve an 'interaction problem' that is posed through the 'new media' arts application for their own expressive purposes, researchers can analyse and collate the results to understand the solution space. We present a study with the bodyPaint application to address a design issue that we discovered when assessing the merits of an electronic patient record system.

© All rights reserved Morrison and Blackwell and/or their publisher

 
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Morrison, Cecily and Blackwell, Alan (2009): Observing End-User Customisation of Electronic Patient Records. In: Pipek, Volkmar, Rosson, Mary Beth, Ruyter, Boris E. R. de and Wulf, Volker (eds.) End-User Development - 2nd International Symposium - IS-EUD 2009 March 2-4, 2009, Siegen, Germany. pp. 275-284

2008
 
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Myers, Brad A., Burnett, Margaret M., Rosson, Mary Beth, Ko, Andrew J. and Blackwell, Alan (2008): End user software engineering: chi'2008 special interest group meeting. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008. pp. 2371-2374.

End users create software whenever they write, for instance, educational simulations, spreadsheets, or dynamic e-business web applications. Researchers are working to bring the benefits of rigorous software engineering methodologies to these end users to try to make their software more reliable. Unfortunately, errors are pervasive in end-user software, and the resulting impact is sometimes enormous. This special interest group meeting has two purposes: to incorporate attendees' and feedback into an emerging survey of the state of this interesting new sub-area, and generally to bring together the community of researchers who are addressing this topic, with the companies that are creating end-user programming tools.

© All rights reserved Myers et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Morrison, Cecily and Blackwell, Alan (2008): Co-located group interaction design. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2008 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems April 5-10, 2008. pp. 2587-2590.

This design theatre experience explores the use of choreographic improvisation exercises to reflect on the structures of interaction in a mobile, co-located group. The design technique is motivated by studies of clinical ward rounds, and applies analytic models from Kendon, Garfinkel and Hutchins.

© All rights reserved Morrison and Blackwell and/or ACM Press

 
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Blackwell, Alan, Phaal, Robert, Eppler, Martin J. and Crilly, Nathan (2008): Strategy Roadmaps: New Forms, New Practices. In: Stapleton, Gem, Howse, John and Lee, John (eds.) Diagrams 2008 - Diagrammatic Representation and Inference - 5th International Conference September 19-21, 2008, Herrsching, Germany. pp. 127-140.

 
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Blackwell, Alan (2008): Cognitive Dimensions of Notations: Understanding the Ergonomics of Diagram Use. In: Stapleton, Gem, Howse, John and Lee, John (eds.) Diagrams 2008 - Diagrammatic Representation and Inference - 5th International Conference September 19-21, 2008, Herrsching, Germany. pp. 5-8.

 
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Bresciani, Sabrina, Blackwell, Alan and Eppler, Martin J. (2008): A Collaborative Dimensions Framework: Understanding the Mediating Role of Conceptual Visualizations in Collaborative Knowledge Work. In: HICSS 2008 - 41st Hawaii International International Conference on Systems Science 7-10 January, 2008, Waikoloa, Big Island, HI, USA. p. 364.

 
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Blythe, Mark, Bardzell, Jeffrey, Bardzell, Shaowen and Blackwell, Alan (2008): Critical Issues in Interaction Design. In: Proceedings of the HCI08 Conference on People and Computers XXII 2008. pp. 183-184.

Computing technology is now so entwined with everyday life that enquiries into human computer interaction (HCI) are also studies of society and culture Cultural and Critical theory is then increasingly relevant to studies of Human Computer Interaction (HCI). It is both timely and important to develop understandings of the strengths and limitations of the various perspectives available within the fractious traditions of cultural and critical theory. This workshop will consider the challenges of making such theory relevant and accessible to HCI and interaction design.

© All rights reserved Blythe et al. and/or their publisher

2007
 
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Jones, Rachel, Milic-Frayling, Natasa, Rodden, Kerry and Blackwell, Alan (2007): Contextual Method for the Redesign of Existing Software Products. In International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, 22 (1) pp. 81-101.

This article is concerned with the problem of improving software products and investigates how to base that process on solid empirical foundations. Our key contribution is a contextual method that provides a means of identifying new features to support discovered and currently unsupported ways of working and a means of evaluating the usefulness of proposed features. Standard methods of discovery and evaluation, such as interviews and usability testing, gather some of the necessary data but fall short of covering important aspects. The shortcomings of these approaches are overcome by applying an integrated and iterative method for collecting and interpreting data about product usage in context. This article demonstrates its effectiveness when applied to the discovery and evaluation of new features for standard Web clients.

© All rights reserved Jones et al. and/or Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

 
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Toye, Eleanor F., Sharp, Richard, Madhavapeddy, Anil, Scott, David, Upton, Eben and Blackwell, Alan (2007): Interacting with mobile services: an evaluation of camera-phones and visual tags. In Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 11 (2) pp. 97-106.

 
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Petre, Marian and Blackwell, Alan (2007): Children as Unwitting End-User Programmers. In: VL-HCC 2007 - IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing 23-27 September, 2007, Coeur dAlene, Idaho, USA. pp. 239-242.

2006
 
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Beckwith, Laura, Kissinger, Cory, Burnett, Margaret M., Wiedenbeck, Susan, Lawrance, Joseph, Blackwell, Alan and Cook, Curtis (2006): Tinkering and gender in end-user programmers' debugging. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2006 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2006. pp. 231-240.

Earlier research on gender effects with software features intended to help problem-solvers in end-user debugging environments has shown that females are less likely to use unfamiliar software features. This poses a serious problem because these features may be key to helping them with debugging problems. Contrasting this with research documenting males' inclination for tinkering in unfamiliar environments, the question arises as to whether encouraging tinkering with new features would help females overcome the factors, such as low self-efficacy, that led to the earlier results. In this paper, we present an experiment with males and females in an end-user debugging setting, and investigate how tinkering behavior impacts several measures of their debugging success. Our results show that the factors of tinkering, reflection, and self-efficacy, can combine in multiple ways to impact debugging effectiveness differently for males than for females.

© All rights reserved Beckwith et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Blackwell, Alan (2006): The reification of metaphor as a design tool. In ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction, 13 (4) pp. 490-530.

Despite causing many debates in human-computer interaction (HCI), the term "metaphor" remains a central element of design practice. This article investigates the history of ideas behind user-interface (UI) metaphor, not only technical developments, but also less familiar perspectives from education, philosophy, and the sociology of science. The historical analysis is complemented by a study of attitudes toward metaphor among HCI researchers 30 years later. Working from these two streams of evidence, we find new insights into the way that theories in HCI are related to interface design, and offer recommendations regarding approaches to future UI design research.

© All rights reserved Blackwell and/or ACM Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

Visual Representation: [/encyclopedia/visual_representation.html]


 
 
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Crilly, Nathan, Clarkson, P. John and Blackwell, Alan (2006): Using Research Diagrams for Member Validation in Qualitative Research. In: Barker-Plummer, Dave, Cox, Richard and Swoboda, Nik (eds.) Diagrams 2006 - Diagrammatic Representation and Inference - 4th International Conference June 28-30, 2006, Stanford, CA, USA. pp. 258-262.

 
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Blackwell, Alan (2006): Gender in Domestic Programming: from Bricolage to Séances d'Essayage. In: CHI2006 Workshop on End User Software Engineering 2006.

Developments in ubiquitous computing mean that domestic appliances are increasingly programmable, providing new opportunities for end-user control and configuration. Unfortunately home programming, just as with end-user programming in professional contexts, is associated with stereotypically masculine learning styles. This is likely to result in future inequalities surrounding domestic technology. This paper summarises recent experimental evidence regarding the role of self-efficacy in learning through experimentation, demonstrates that similar genderlinked behaviour can be found in both domestic and professional contexts, and recommends a new approach to promoting such experimentation among women.

© All rights reserved Blackwell and/or his/her publisher

 Cited in the following chapter:

End-User Development: [/encyclopedia/end-user_development.html]


 
 
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Blackwell, Alan (2006): Ten years of cognitive dimensions in visual languages and computing: Guest Editor's introduction to special issue. In J. Vis. Lang. Comput., 17 (4) pp. 285-287

 
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Edge, Darren and Blackwell, Alan (2006): Correlates of the cognitive dimensions for tangible user interface. In J. Vis. Lang. Comput., 17 (4) pp. 366-394

2005
 
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Rode, Jennifer Ann, Toye, Eleanor F. and Blackwell, Alan (2005): The domestic economy: a broader unit of analysis for end user programming. In: Proceedings of ACM CHI 2005 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems 2005. pp. 1757-1760.

Domestic ubicomp applications often assume individual users will program and configure their technology in isolation, decoupled from complex domestic environments in which they are situated. To investigate this assumption, we conducted a two week study of VCR use by eight families. Each household member old enough to write completed a diary, interviews were conducted before and after, and information on demographics and appliance ownership was collected. Our key finding supports the notion of the domestic economy and the trading of programming expertise. We use the Attention Investment paradigm, and discuss how the model fits with multi-user programming situations. We discuss the importance of the parent v/s child roles in VCR use, as well as, the tension between direct manipulation (e.g. pressing record) and programming ahead of time. We propose that future work on end user programming must focus on the household as a domestic system rather than on the individual.

© All rights reserved Rode et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Blackwell, Alan (2005): Cognitive Dimensions of Notations. In: VL-HCC 2005 - IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing 21-24 September, 2005, Dallas, TX, USA. p. 3.

2004
 
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Stringer, Mark, Toye, Eleanor F., Rode, Jennifer Ann and Blackwell, Alan (2004): Teaching rhetorical skills with a tangible user interface. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC04: Interaction Design and Children 2004. pp. 11-18.

We describe Webkit, an application which uses a large-screen graphical user interface and a tangible user interface to teach children important rhetorical skills. We discuss our evaluation of this application and possible future directions for computer-supported rhetorical applications.

© All rights reserved Stringer et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Milic-Frayling, Natasa, Sommerer, Ralph, Rodden, Kerry and Blackwell, Alan (2004): SmartView and SearchMobil: Providing Overview and Detail in Handheld Browsing. In: Crestani, Fabio, Dunlop, Mark D. and Mizzaro, Stefano (eds.) Mobile and Ubiquitous Information Access - Mobile HCI 2003 International Workshop September 8, 2004, Udine, Italy. pp. 158-171.

 
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Rode, Jennifer A., Toye, Eleanor F. and Blackwell, Alan (2004): The fuzzy felt ethnography-understanding the programming patterns of domestic appliances. In Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, 8 (3) pp. 161-176.

 Cited in the following chapter:

Semi-structured qualitative studies: [/encyclopedia/semi-structured_qualitative_studies.html]


 
 
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Blackwell, Alan, Marriott, Kim and Shimojima, Atsushi (eds.) Diagrams 2004 - Diagrammatic Representation and Inference - Third International Conference March 22-24, 2004, Cambridge, UK.

 
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Blackwell, Alan, Burnett, Margaret M. and Jones, Simon L. Peyton (2004): Champagne Prototyping: A Research Technique for Early Evaluation of Complex End-User Programming Systems. In: VL-HCC 2004 - IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages and Human-Centric Computing 26-29 September, 2004, Rome, Italy. pp. 47-54.

 
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Milic-Frayling, Natasa, Jones, Rachel, Rodden, Kerry, Smyth, Gavin, Blackwell, Alan and Sommerer, Ralph (2004): SmartBack: supporting users in back navigation. In: Proceedings of the 2004 International Conference on the World Wide Web 2004. pp. 63-71.

This paper presents the design and user evaluation of SmartBack, a feature that complements the standard Back button by enabling users to jump directly to key pages in their navigation session, making common navigation activities more efficient. Defining key pages was informed by the findings of a user study that involved detailed monitoring of Web usage and analysis of Web browsing in terms of navigation trails. The pages accessible through SmartBack are determined automatically based on the structure of the user's navigation trails or page association with specific user's activities, such as search or browsing bookmarked sites. We discuss implementation decisions and present results of a usability study in which we deployed the SmartBack prototype and monitored usage for a month in both corporate and home settings. The results show that the feature brings qualitative improvement to the browsing experience of individuals who use it.

© All rights reserved Milic-Frayling et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Blackwell, Alan (2004): End-user developers at home. In Communications of the ACM, 47 (9) pp. 65-66.

 Cited in the following chapter:

End-User Development: [/encyclopedia/end-user_development.html]


 
2003
 
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Blackwell, Alan and Green, T. R. G. (2003): Notational Systems - The Cognitive Dimensions of Notations Framework. In: Carroll, John M. (ed.). "HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks". San Francisco: Morgan Kaufman Publisherspp. 103-133

 Cited in the following chapter:

Visual Representation: [/encyclopedia/visual_representation.html]


 
 
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Rode, Jennifer Ann, Stringer, Mark, Toye, Eleanor F., Simpson, Amanda R. and Blackwell, Alan (2003): Curriculum-focused design. In: Proceedings of ACM IDC03: Interaction Design and Children 2003. pp. 119-126.

In this paper we describe a technique of Curriculum-Focused Design, and the aspects of our research experience on which the technique is based. Our technique is a variant of Druin's Cooperative Inquiry. Cooperative Inquiry is a well-developed design practice for children, but it has been practised largely outside the classroom. Druin's technique has also been developed in American schools, which have greater curriculum flexibility than English schools, which are highly curriculum-focused. We studied the English curriculum and identified an area that we believed could fruitfully be augmented by technology. Our design approach was novel insofar as our evaluation sessions doubled as lessons for students. Our interdisciplinary design team, including a former teacher with over 10 years' classroom experience, evaluated the interface in a classroom setting, providing strong environmental validity to the design process.

© All rights reserved Rode et al. and/or ACM Press

 
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Rodden, Kerry, Milic-Frayling, N., Sommerer, R. and Blackwell, Alan (2003): Effective Web Searching on Mobile Devices. In: Proceedings of the HCI03 Conference on People and Computers XVII 2003. pp. 281-296.

 
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Jones, Simon L. Peyton, Blackwell, Alan and Burnett, Margaret M. (2003): A user-centred approach to functions in Excel. In SIGPLAN Notices, 38 (9) pp. 165-176

We describe extensions to the Excel spreadsheet that integrate userdefined functions into the spreadsheet grid, rather than treating them as a “bolt-on”. Our first objective was to bring the benefits of additional programming language features to a system that is often not recognised as a programming language. Second, in a project involving the evolution of a well-established language, compatibility with previous versions is a major issue, and maintaining this compatibility was our second objective. Third and most important, the commercial success of spreadsheets is largely due to the fact that many people find them more usable than programming languages for programming-like tasks. Thus, our third objective (with resulting constraints) was to maintain this usability advantage. Simply making Excel more like a conventional programming language would not meet these objectives and constraints. We have therefore taken an approach to our design work that emphasises the cognitive requirements of the user as a primary design criterion. The analytic approach that we demonstrate in this project is based on recent developments in the study of programming usability, including the Cognitive Dimensions of Notations and the Attention Investment model of abstraction use. We believe that this approach is also applicable to the design and

© All rights reserved Jones et al. and/or ACM Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

End-User Development: [/encyclopedia/end-user_development.html]


 
2002
 
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Ward, David J., Blackwell, Alan and MacKay, David J. C. (2002): Dasher: A Gesture-Driven Data Entry Interface for Mobile Computing. In Human-Computer Interaction, 17 (2) pp. 199-228.

Existing devices for communicating information to computers are bulky, slow, or unreliable. Dasher is an interface incorporating language modeling and driven by continuous two-dimensional gestures (e.g., a mouse, a stylus, or eye-tracker). Tests have shown that, after 1 hr of practice, novice users reach a writing speed of about 20 words per minute (wpm) while taking dictation. Experienced users achieve writing speeds of about 34 wpm, compared with typical 10-finger keyboard typing of 40 to 60 wpm. Although the interface is slower than a conventional keyboard, it is simple to use and could be used on personal data assistants and by motion-impaired computer users. Dasher can readily be used to enter text from any alphabet.

© All rights reserved Ward et al. and/or Taylor and Francis

 
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Blackwell, Alan and Wallach, Hanna M. (2002): Diagrammatic Integration of Abstract Operations into Software Work Contexts. In: Hegarty, Mary, Meyer, Bernd and Narayanan, N. Hari (eds.) Diagrams 2002 - Diagrammatic Representation and Inference - Second International Conference April 18-20, 2002, Callaway Gardens, GA, USA. pp. 191-205.

 
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Blackwell, Alan and Burnett, Margaret M. (2002): Applying Attention Investment to End-User Programming. In: HCC 2002 - IEEE CS International Symposium on Human-Centric Computing Languages and Environments 3-6 September, 2002, Arlington, VA, USA. pp. 28-30.

 
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Blackwell, Alan (2002): First Steps in Programming: A Rationale for Attention Investment Models. In: HCC 2002 - IEEE CS International Symposium on Human-Centric Computing Languages and Environments 3-6 September, 2002, Arlington, VA, USA. pp. 2-10.

 
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Blackwell, Alan and Engelhardt, Yuri (2002): A Meta-Taxonomy for Diagram Research. In: Anderson, Michael, Meyer, Bernd and Olivier, Patrick (eds.). "Diagrammatic Representation and Reasoning". London, UK: pp. 47-64

The recent rise of multimedia technology has turned visual communication into an everyday reality and made it necessary to achieve a better understanding of the role of diagrams and sketches in communication and in creative thought and problem-solving. Diagrammatic Representation and Reasoning is a wide-ranging, multidisciplinary overview of this area, covering relevant research in computer science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science and psychology. Key topics include: - Cognitive aspects of diagrammatic information; - Formal methods for computing with diagrams; - Applications of advanced diagrammatic systems. This book is a state-of-the-art survey that will be a valuable resource for researchers and students in the fields of cognitive science, artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, and graphics and visualisation.

© All rights reserved Blackwell and Engelhardt and/or their publisher

 Cited in the following chapter:

Visual Representation: [/encyclopedia/visual_representation.html]


 
 
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Blackwell, Alan (2002): Psychological perspectives on diagrams and their users. In: Anderson, Michael, Meyer, Bernd and Olivier, Patrick (eds.). "Diagrammatic Representation and Reasoning". London, UK: pp. 109-123

 Cited in the following chapter:

Visual Representation: [/encyclopedia/visual_representation.html]


 
2001
 
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Blackwell, Alan (ed.) (2001): Thinking with Diagrams. Kluwer Academic Publishers

 
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Blackwell, Alan and Hague, Rob (2001): AutoHAN: An Architecture for Programming the Home. In: HCC 2001 - IEEE CS International Symposium on Human-Centric Computing Languages and Environments September 5-7, 2001, Stresa, Italy. pp. 150-157.

 
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Blackwell, Alan (2001): Pictorial Representation and Metaphor in Visual Language Design. In J. Vis. Lang. Comput., 12 (3) pp. 223-252

 
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Blackwell, Alan (2001): See What You Need: Helping End-users to Build Abstractions. In J. Vis. Lang. Comput., 12 (5) pp. 475-499

 
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Whitley, Kirsten N. and Blackwell, Alan (2001): Visual Programming in the Wild: A Survey of LabVIEW Programmers. In J. Vis. Lang. Comput., 12 (4) pp. 435-472

2000
 
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Ward, David J., Blackwell, Alan and MacKay, David J. C. (2000): Dasher -- A Data Entry Interface Using Continuous Gestures and Language Models. In: Ackerman, Mark S. and Edwards, Keith (eds.) Proceedings of the 13th annual ACM symposium on User interface software and technology November 06 - 08, 2000, San Diego, California, United States. pp. 129-137.

 
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Blackwell, Alan, Jansen, Anthony R. and Marriott, Kim (2000): Restricted Focus Viewer: A Tool for Tracking Visual Attention. In: Anderson, Michael, Cheng, Peter C-H. and Haarslev, Volker (eds.) Diagrams 2000 - Theory and Application of Diagrams - First International Conference September 1-3, 2000, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. pp. 162-177.

1999
 
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Petre, Marian and Blackwell, Alan (1999): Mental Imagery in Program Design and Visual Programming. In International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 51 (1) pp. 7-30.

There is widespread anecdotal evidence that expert programmers make use of visual mental images when they are designing programs. This evidence is used to justify the use of diagrams and visual programming languages during software design. This paper reports the results of two studies. In the first, expert programmers were directly questioned regarding the nature of their mental representations while they were engaged in a design task. This investigative technique was used with the explicit intention of eliciting introspective reports of mental imagery. In the second, users of a visual programming language responded to a questionnaire in which they were asked about cognitive processes. The resulting transcripts displayed a considerable number of common elements. These suggests that software design shares many characteristics of more concrete design disciplines. The reports from participants in the two studies, together with previous research into imagery use, indicate potential techniques for further investigation of software development support tools and design strategies.

© All rights reserved Petre and Blackwell and/or Academic Press

 Cited in the following chapter:

Aesthetic Computing: [/encyclopedia/aesthetic_computing.html]


 
 
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Blackwell, Alan and Green, T. R. G. (1999): Does Metaphor Increase Visual Language Usability?. In: VL 1999 1999. pp. 246-253.

1997
 
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Petre, Marian and Blackwell, Alan (1997): A Glimpse of Expert Programmers' Mental Imagery. In: Empirical Studies of Programmers - Seventh Workshop October 24-26, 1997, 1997, Alexandria, Virginia. pp. 109-123.

There is widespread anecdotal evidence that expert programmers make use of visual mental images when they are designing programs. In this study, expert programmers were directly questioned regarding the nature of their mental representations while they were engaged in a design task. This investigative technique was used with the explicit intention of eliciting introspective reports of mental imagery. The resulting transcripts displayed a considerable number of common elements. These suggest that software design shares many characteristics of more concrete design disciplines. They also provide promising areas for further investigation of software development support tools and design strategies.

© All rights reserved Petre and Blackwell and/or ACM Press

 
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Whitley, K. N. and Blackwell, Alan (1997): Visual Programming: The Outlook from Academia and Industry. In: Empirical Studies of Programmers - Seventh Workshop October 24-26, 1997, 1997, Alexandria, Virginia. pp. 180-208.

This paper presents three surveys of beliefs about the cognitive effects of visual programming. One survey examined the visual programming literature for the opinions of academic researchers. The second and third surveys gathered the opinions of the users of programming languages: the second survey questioned professional programmers attending a trade show and the third was a world-wide survey of LabVIEW programmers conducted via the Internet. The first survey revealed speculative, optimistic views of visual programming amongst visual programming researchers. The second found that a broad sample of professional programmers were the most skeptical of the three groups. The third indicates that LabVIEW programmers are confident that the visual programming provided by LabVIEW is beneficial. Taken together, these surveys illustrate the wide range of unanswered questions about the cognitive effects of visual programming languages. In doing so, this research hopes to assist in the process of establishing a more rigorous scientific investigation of these cognitive effects.

© All rights reserved Whitley and Blackwell and/or ACM Press

1996
 
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Blackwell, Alan (1996): Metacognitive Theories of Visual Programming: What do we think we are doing?. In: VL 1996 1996. pp. 240-246.

 
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Page Information

Page maintainer: The Editorial Team
URL: http://www.interaction-design.org/references/authors/alan_blackwell.html

Publication statistics

Pub. period:1996-2012
Pub. count:58
Number of co-authors:58



Co-authors

Number of publications with 3 favourite co-authors:

Eleanor F. Toye:6
Margaret M. Burnett:6
Jennifer Ann Rode:4

 

 

Productive colleagues

Alan Blackwell's 3 most productive colleagues in number of publications:

Brad A. Myers:154
Mary Beth Rosson:142
Margaret M. Burnet..:103
 
 
 
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