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 R E S E A R C H
  Ph.D. Research Projects

with Scott Golder

A visualization that portrays relationships using the interaction histories preserved in email archives. Using the content of exchanged messages, it shows the words that characterize one's correspondence with an individual and how they change over the period of the relationship.


Mountain visualizes a person's email archive in terms of all the people with whom this person has been in touch over the years. The piece is a commentary on the continuous accumulation of email contacts over time and the large numbers of people we are constantly in touch with over email.

history flow
with Martin Wattenberg, IBM Research

A tool for visualizing dynamic, evolving documents and  the interactions of multiple collaborating authors. In its current implementation,
history flow is being used to visualize the evolutionary history of Wiki pages on Wikipedia.

Artifacts of the Presence Era
with: Ethan Perry and Ethan Howe 

In this project, the images and sounds produced in the
ICA gallery in Boston are captured and then visualized as a growing, organic landscape that serves as a historical record. Each layer encapsulates the events that took place in the gallery over a period of fifteen minutes. The shape of each layer is based on the audio captured during those fifteen minutes, with peaks showing large amounts of noise and valleys representing low ambient noise.

Newsgroup Crowds and Authorlines
work done at Microsoft Research, under the tutelage of Marc Smith

These are two related visualizations of authors’ activities in Usenet newsgroups. Current Usenet news browsers focus on messages and thread structures while disregarding valuable information about the authors of messages and the participants of the various discussions.
Newsgroup Crowds visualizes the population of authors in a particular newsgroup, illustrating and contrasting the interaction patterns of participants within the community. AuthorLines visualizes a particular author’s posting activity across all newsgroups over a period of one year, revealing temporal patterns of thread initiation and reply that can broadly characterize the roles authors play in Usenet. 

with David Nguyen

PostHistory is a visualization of email activity patterns over time; it is a tool intended to give users a much richer sense of their own email activities based on their evolving social networks. The visualization depicts a user's email activity on a day-to-day basis, focusing on questions such as: When does a new person appear in your email history? When does a person fade out of your email history? How many messages are sent to you personally as opposed to messages sent to lists of people? How strong are the ties in your network (i.e., what is the frequency of contact and how personal are those contacts?) How many messages are CCed to you? Who CCs you on messages? Whom do you CC? 

By addressing questions such as these, PostHistory creates a visual diary of email usage while allowing users to observe and reflect upon some of the nuances in their social network patterns.

Chat Circles II *

Chat Circles II* is a major revision of the original Chat Circles interface. It introduces three new elements: images in the background, action traces and a map of the entire space. The images on the background introduce topics for conversation, helping to define the space as a social environment. The action traces show where participants have been and the places where they have spoken. As they move in the chatroom, users  leave a traces that fade after a period of time. Users’ movements and conversations color the space, making all activity into an expressionist sketch. 

* The person behind the core software infra-structure of Chat Circles II is Matt Lee - an MEng student at SMG who has since graduated from MIT. My many thanks to him.  :)

  Masters Research Projects



Personal photographs are objects which are highly invested with sentimental value; people make fairly complex decisions on how and whom to share them with. In a world where the photographs that surround us are becoming increasingly digital, we have to rethink the concepts of “management” and “display” of such personal objects, specially as they are shared online. Collections is my Master's thesis project and it supports users in articulating complex access decisions according to the different intended audiences for different sets of pictures. The system also introduces an original approach to the presentation interface of photographic collections on the Web.

Chat Circles

Chat Circles is an abstract graphical interface for synchronous conversation. Color and form are used to convey social presence and activity, and proximity-based filtering is used to intuitively break large groups into conversational clusters. The goal in this work is to create a richer environment for online discussions.

with Karrie Karahalios

VisiPhone is a communication object that opens a graphical as well as an audio portal through space. It is designed to provide a continuous, ubiquitous connection between people in different places. Through this experimental medium, we are exploring the social and aesthetic aspects of visualizations of sound.



The Virtual Fishtank is an innovative museum exhibit, developed by The Computer Museum, the MIT Media Lab, and NearLife Inc. Visitors learn how complex patterns can arise from simple rules. The first version of The Virtual Fishtank opened at The Computer Museum in Boston in June of 1998; a second version travels nationally to other science museums and aquariums.


Tete-a-Tete (T@T) is a collaborative project covering three research areas: Multi-Agent Systems, Human-Computer Interaction, and the business of Retail Electronic Commerce. The goal is to provide advanced technologies and visualization tools to facilitate the transaction of complex retail products by efficiently matching consumers' needs with merchants' offerings.