November 2008


When people ask about my PhD project, they sometimes get a puzzled look in their eyes when they hear where I want to go to. Other people immediately perceive possibilities and applications everywhere. Proof Positive? Marketing students wanna work with me (and not just because I work for Company)!

A couple days ago, a marketing student came for an interview concerning an internship within Project3. There was much rejoicing on his side when it turned out that Company Research indeed is somewhat marketing oriented (or at least tries to be user oriented rather than technology). There was much rejoicing on my side that Project3Leader is quite impressed with his people-oriented skills, since Student M interviewed with me before on an internship which didn’t happen after all. And made an impression too, since he came in a very nice suit, a light pink shirt and a pink tie. Did I mention he’s a marketing student? Plus, he shows sufficient analytic insight and managed to explain a somewhat vague project to our heart’s content.

Actually Project3 is hot, especially because it promises to connect people in a less-PC oriented way, while retaining as much as possible the features which make it appealing to connect through the PC. I’m not sure this makes it more hot than Dr. Isis’ Naughty Monkeys, but my influence will definitely bring more opportunity for sparkles and glitter to shine through.

More news from the conquering department: 2 experiments which needed replication are finally being replicated. It’s costing several t-shirts, umbrellas and USB sticks, and a present for the volunteer, but come january the data will be available, and should be able to tell me more. Now, what do I want this data to give me? Well, Experiment 1 was carried out  by a student and produced good results. Based upon these results another student carried out Experiment 2 to see if the results were stable enough to use for her follow-up experiment. Unfortunately, Experiment 2 produced opposite results from Experiment 1. Yes, not just a wee bit skewed, but freekin’ opposite. Obviously, a replication is clearly in order, if only to make sure that the data don’t follow me in the night, like ghosts intend to make sure they are heard and understood.

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This week has been somewhat exhaustive. One of the reason for said exhaustion is still the adaptation to the new getting-up time (6:15 rather than 7:30), the other reason is that two replica experiments were set up. There’s a volunteer who will execute the experiments, but the reason she’s a volunteer is that she wants to gain more experience in running experiments. This obviously still leaves me with a host of practical stuff to arrange (such as transporting a 42″ television with a large support, where forgetting to mention the size of the support makes for rather awkward transportation), and the need to provide her with a thorough run-through before the experiments can start.

On the bright side, there’s no need for me to be there while she’s running the experiment and the volunteer will supply all the participants. All I have to do is make sure that they get a reward now; which gives me a new excuse to order more business gifts, since that’s so much easier to arrange than vouchers.

Writing has been in short supply this week, since most of it has proved to be either running around or sitting down and talking to people. The other day, it was standing and listening though, since Donald Norman was into town. Considering he recently published “The design of future things”, this would be an interesting way to see what kind of new material he would cover. The topic of the lecture was announced as “Social Design”, and mainly the end covered new material concerning his eight principles of psychology of waiting (and how to design for it, of course). The design principles he set out are:

  1. emotions dominate
  2. eliminate confusion’
  3. the wait must be appropriate
  4. set expectations, then meet or exceed them
  5. keep people occupied
  6. be fair
  7. end strong, start strong
  8. memory of an event is more important than the experience

Donald Norman updated his pdf on this august 21st, 2008.

The workshop proposal has been submitted, and both co-chairs were positive that it’s a good proposal, so let’s hope the reviewers (or workshop chairs?) do too. Should know more about its acceptance by the 8th of december. One thing down completely.

The first version of the studyguide also has been written, through much cannibalizing of earlier guides. Also, it still stands in two languages, and the next step is not only adjusting it for language (since students will get to discuss in their native language rather than English), but also for content. There’s more to cannibalize though, which is a sustaining thought because writing a studyguide for the first time without support is not a thought I want to entertain at this point in time. For sure, later on, especially when I will be the main responsible person (actually, I’m looking forward to that already). No tutor-instructions yet, since the content of the study-guide has to be settled beforehand. At least, that’s the conclusion we’ve come to. Also, examples are a good idea here as well, and those won’t make it to my grubby hands before 28 november.

No introduction and theory for the journal paper either, but that’s because first an overview of two conferences visited in september and october has to be given. One in presentationstyle, the other more report wise, if only to give me feedback and see if another presentation should be made. So, adding those two things to my list, instead of the editing for my student’s thesis.

The presentation overview worked out just fine – mainly because the idea was to foster discussion rather than me blabbering on and on about what might be to some interest. Discussion was definitely available, since very few people in the cluster are shrinking violets and will speak up when they don’t get something or have conflicting opinions. Today the focus is on the next conference overview, since one the businessmanagers is awaiting that eagerly.

The workshop proposal is mostly written, huray! I will have to ask for an extension, but that’s more to guarantee that my co-chairs have time to write their ‘about’ pieces and give the last version a once-over to see if they agree with everything. At least we’re all in the same time-zone!

Surprisingly enough, writing this workshop proposal seemed a lot easier than writing a regular paper. Maybe because here, the one point that the workshop would run around was clear form the beginning. What we needed most was an example of how to write it down properly and relevantly. CompanySupervisor2 provided that example (she’s not one of the co-chairs though), and it helped a lot with shaping our own proposal.

One of the toughest things to do was to find a good title, so FSP’s last post about choosing the right title came right on time. First, I considered a title with a colon, as in “Evaluating X: appropriate methods and techniques”. That seemed a little too generic, and not that attractive. After looking over the examples, we’ve now settled for “Challenges in evaluating the X user experience”. Less generic, more attractive, still tells you what we would like to look at in the workshop.

Since my master student just left for an extended vacation I won’t have to edit his thesis either, which is good news. The time allocated for that will probably go to interviewing prospective students for three other internships though… so I don’t think I’ll feel like I have nothing to do with students this month.

One of my reviewers just walked in with feedback. Back to workshop proposal I go…

To reiterate Dr. Brazen Hussy

“International acaDemic Writing Month is the academic’s answer to NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.”

The goal for this month is to get out a workshop proposal (due 7/11), write a studyguide and tutor-instructions for next semester’s course (first version promised 11/11), and write the introduction and theory part for my first journal article.

In addition to that I will probably have to edit my student’s master thesis and do a thousand other things, but this writing? Very important for me right now.

Also, I was recently in the Bay Area and while watching Gilmore Girls 7-21, I realised I knew what Logan was talking about with his University Avenue!