Ergonomics of graphical information systems


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A short guest lecture to 3rd year HCI students at Loughborough University.

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  • We are all familiar with physical ergonomics and probably anthropometrics
  • Interacting with Computers through Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) is nothing new either
  • And recently HCI has come a long way, brining in more traditional ergonomics
  • Away from the fun of rotating pictures on our home PC, it is information we are interacting with
  • In particular, this session is about Volunteered Geographic Information:

    “The creation of geographic information by potentially untrained volunteers”
  • So lets think about taking these concepts and marrying them together
  • In 2005 Paul Radmacher combined property listings from Craigslist
  • With a new tool made freely available on the web – Google Maps
  • The result was Neither the map nor the information was new or unique, but the way of visualising and geographically contextualising it was unique.
  • This is known as the mashup
  • Essentially different ‘layers’ of information are overlaid onto a map.
  • So why does this matter?
  • Before the mashup (pre 2005) finding a new house online looked like this
  • And made you feel like this...
  • But it obviously makes more sense when you can understand it graphically
    Especially when you know a little about the area.......So lets take this further
    We have selected the properties we are interested in, and now bring in some more information
    In this case it is crime data about home break-ins.... Our relationship with this mashup has not been enhanced though a better user interface, but by more contextualising information for the user to interact with.
  • So why does this matter?
  • Google maps is the most widely used online map to date.
  • Information is created by the professional cartographers of Tele Atlas and Google
  • Here is central Loughborough Mapped by OpenStreetMap. All the information is from freely available data (e.g. Ordnance Survey Streetview)
  • or volunteers mapping with hand held GPS devices and some Open Source software on their home PC.
  • And this is what they look like
  • When comparing a ‘complete’ section of OpenStreetMap against Google maps you can see the difference in detail......
    Remember what happened with house-maps and layers of information....
  • Ordnance Survey has a ‘refresh’ time line of between 6 months for dense urban areas (e.g. London) to sparse rural (e.g. Mountains) and may cost you tens of thousands of pounds for access.
  • OpenStreetMap has a refresh rate of RIGHT NOW to GOD KNOWS WHEN.....
  • Essentially different ‘layers’ of information are overlaid onto a map.
  • Remember how contextualising information makes all the difference...
  • So why does this matter?
  • As I mentioned earlier, my work is mainly involving volunteered geographic information, and in particular how it gives benefit to the end user above and beyond what professional information may provide.
  • Which works out roughly like this.....

    If pink is the outcome score when using VGI
    And purple is the outcome score when using Professional Information
    The difference between scored gives benefit to user
  • When I started in October 2008, there was very little published....So I had to start somewhere
  • My first study looked at defining who are the stakeholders into VGI
  • Preliminary findings are:
  • Ergonomics of graphical information systems

    1. 1. Ergonomics of Graphical Information Christopher J. Parker Ergonomics of Human Computer Interaction 21st October 2010
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    4. 4. What is Ergonomics of HCI? 4
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    25. 25. Results So Far...  The data needs, and the usefulness of data to individuals is dependent on the level of experience that the end users had with the kayaking application domain.  Data was only useful when participants could interpret it as useful information that had meaning that was relevant for them.  Some aspects of usability need to be measured in terms of functional outcomes, and particularly the ability of kayakers to make appropriate decisions during the planning and activity phases.  Usable data often has a temporal aspect, such that the usefulness of data often ‘decayed’ within a time window of opportunity. A good example of this is water levels affecting the ‘paddleability’ of the river.  Data usability also had a clear geographical element (i.e. both time and place are important).  Professional information sources tend to represent the ‘large general’ geography of the land (e.g. whole river paths), with volunteered sources relating to small scale details (e.g. difficulty of weirs). The most negative experiences resounded by participants related to these small scale details. While volunteered information seemed to have little impact on the positive enjoyment of a kayak trip, its use in planning helped prevent kayakers encountering negative experiences as frequently.  When questioned about professional and volunteered sources, participants tended to refer to sources they perceive as reliable and respectable (e.g. highly regarded forums) as professional, despite their volunteer contribution base.
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