Alan Wexelblat

Contact Info:

Fair Use Has A Posse I Support
the Public Library of Science

Picture of me

Current Status

I have a new site with examples of my work published off Dreamhost. The content of this site is outdated, but it still shows up as the first hit on searches so I keep it here.

If you want to reach me, use the email address at the left.

I blog about copyright and intellectual property issues at Copyfight

Old Status

I finished my Ph.D. at the MIT Media Lab in January 1999, under the supervision of Dr. Pattie Maes in the Software Agents research group. We work on systems (sometimes called Community Support Systems or Digital Ecologies) to help people achieve working partnerships among themselves and with machines. The basic notion is that you have a group of people, probably dispersed in space and time, who need assistance with an information-related task (search, browsing, navigation, retrieval, recommendation) and they turn over part of this task to computer systems that help them by finding, organizing, and recommending knowledge sources, including other people.

My doctoral research centered around the notion of using history information to help people solve present problems. I call this interaction history because it is the record of the interactions of people and objects. I applied this idea to navigation, because I am interested in how people interact with large information spaces, such as the Web. I believe that browsing is different from search and requires different tools to help in the task. In particular, tools which show the work of other people browsing the same information space can be helpful; such tools can help users get things done and they can help designers create spaces which are easier and more fruitful to navigate.

I have placed online two new papers about Footprints, the system built to show these ideas. One appeared at the IEEE's 32nd Hawai'i International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS'99). It is available in HTML form or as a Postscript file.

The second paper covers version 3 of the system and some results of user testing the software, and was presented at CHI'99 in Pittsburgh. This one is also available in HTML form or as a Postscript file.

The Web site for Footprints is no longer up. Sorry, but the data used in the system were taken from people who were helping my research and when the dissertation was finished I needed to get rid of the data. Software is available for Lab sponsors and possibly for academic researchers. Email me for details.

An older paper describing the second version of the system is available. This paper also describes key components of my theories about interaction history information.

You can also read my first paper on Footprints.

If you are interested in other work I have done, you can read guidelines for agent interfaces and a report on an experiment with an anthropomorphic interface. The former paper will be published at some point in ACM interactions and the latter paper was published in a AAAI Tech Report.

Past Work

I've worked in a number of other areas prior to this. Some of my old work can be found here:

Complete Publications List

A complete publications history can be found in my publications list.

Data Bits

The Author in his Native Habitat

The Author, his posse, and his boss, and another angle on us.

MIT Media Lab home page.

MIT home page.

Copyright © 1995-2010 Alan Wexelblat

Alan Wexelblat <>
Last modified: Thu Nov 4 08:04:39 2010