Dennis Quan: "Haystack"
Thursday, November 13, 2003, 4:00 - 5:00 PM EST
Bartos Theatre, MIT Media Lab (E15)
Information overload is becoming an artifact of daily life, negatively
affecting our productive use of email, the Web, and desktop computers. One
fundamental problem is that computers force users to organize information
using rigid tools such as folder hierarchiesthe information-age analog of
the filing cabinet. Many in the information retrieval and human-computer
interaction communities have begun to examine this problem in earnest by
allowing users to associate information with objects such as timelines,
tasks, and keywords. We have opted to generalize these approaches by
permitting freeform associations between arbitrary objects, which better
matches the organizational styles of some users while also supporting those
who require a more structured framework for organization.
We have developed an information-management tool called Haystack that allows users to manage information encoded in semantic networks, a generalized knowledge
representation scheme. Haystack takes advantage of this flexibility to
integrate information currently dispersed amongst multiple separate
applications, such as email, contact lists, calendars, documents, bookmark
collections, and notes, and presents a unified environment that allows
users to browse and aggregate items of importance in whatever way is most natural to them. Haystack also allows custom information types and modes of
presentation to be incorporated into the system. Furthermore, by raising
the level of expressiveness for recording information, Haystack provides a
basis for users to take advantage of sophisticated approaches to information
retrieval, agent-based negotiation, and collaboration envisioned by
researchers in the artificial intelligence, semantic Web, and CSCW
communities. The talk will begin with a brief demonstration of the system,
after which Quan will discuss underlying technologies, and applications to personal information management and bioinformatics.
Dennis Quan is a research staff member at IBM Watson Research, where he works on XML and semantic Web metadata technologies and applications thereof to bioinformatics. He received his PhD in computer science at MIT based on research into Haystack. Previously he worked on Sash, creating the Sash integrated development environment and many of the user interface components of the system. He also holds SB degrees in mathematics and chemistry from MIT.
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