SIAT - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Supporting exploratory information seeking

Author: 
Date created: 
2010-09-03
Abstract: 

Exploratory search is a sensemaking activity that involves information seeking and iterative development of mental model of the domain under exploration. It often begins with a vague and evolving information need that is multidimensional. We designed and developed a web-browser extension to facilitate exploratory web search aiming at transforming the search activity into a meaningful learning activity. The design is based on the proposed multi-threaded model of exploratory search. According to this model, exploratory search is a multi-threaded process as the user has multiple concurrent sub-goals addressing different aspects of her information need. A case study is conducted to evaluate the design and investigate how the proposed model can provide support for sensemaking activities involved in the exploratory web search.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Brian Fisher
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Breath as an Embodied Connection for Performer-System Collaborative Improvisation

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-07-18
Abstract: 

The use of computers has continued to increase within interactive performance over the last 25 years, evolving the need for understanding performer system interaction. Performers in the disciplines of Music, Dance, and Theatre produce works incorporating autonomous computer systems programmed to “listen” and contribute material. Interaction with such systems commonly relies on computers sensing the performer’s physical and/or sonic gesture. However, this sense-respond model does not easily accommodate the concept of intuition, which fosters the development of performer trust, synchronization and collaboration within interaction. Performance practitioners interact using embodied-knowledge that is developed through training and experience of the body. Although it is an innate part of performing, intuition is seldom considered and has been under theorized and under-researched in the context of performer-system interaction models. Intuition as a parameter of interaction has significant relevance to the interaction between an autonomous system and a performer. I have conducted three case studies on performers’ sense of intuition within interactive performance by designing and testing an interactive system that provides information cues of the system’s internal state. The system’s intention to act and the quality of gesture will was explored by simulating breath as an intentional cue. By altering the timbre and duration of the simulated breath, the system can indicate the quality of intended gesture. The model was evaluated by collecting performer interview data, third person observation of performer interaction, and first-person accounts of the system designer testing the system as a part of the design process. The information resulting from this study can be used to further develop models of interaction with autonomous generative systems in performance.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Thecla Schiphorst
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Automatic tuning of the op-1 synthesizer using a multi-objective genetic algorithm

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-07-16
Abstract: 

Calibrating a sound synthesizer to replicate or approximate a given target sound is a complex and time consuming task for musicians and sound designers. In the case of the OP1, a commercial synthesizer developed by Teenage Engineering, the difficulty is multiple. The OP-1 contains several synthesis engines, effects and low frequency oscillators, which make the parameters search space very large and discontinuous. Furthermore, interactions between parameters are common and the OP-1 is not fully deterministic. We address the problem of automatically calibrating the parameters of the OP-1 to approximate a given target sound. We propose and evaluate a solution to this problem using a multi-objective Non-dominated-Sorting-Genetic-Algorithm-II. We show that our approach makes it possible to handle the problem complexity, and returns a small set of presets that best approximate the target sound while covering the Pareto front of this multi-objective optimization problem.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Philippe Pasquier
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Understanding the role of interaction designers’ personal experiences in interaction design practice

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2013-07-04
Abstract: 

Using designers’ personal experiences in interaction design practice is usually considered as a questionable approach by rationalist in HCI. Perhaps for this reason, little work has been conducted to investigate how designers’ personal experiences can contribute to technology design. Yet it’s undeniable designers have applied their personal experiences into design practice and also benefited from such experiences. This thesis reports on a multiple case study that looks at how interaction designers worked with their personal experiences in three industrial interaction design projects, thus calling for the need to explicitly recognize the legitimacy of using designers’ personal experiences in interaction design practice. In this study, a designer’s personal experiences refer to the collections of his/her individual experiences that derived from his/her direct observation or participation in past real-life events and activities as well as his/her interaction with design artifacts and systems whether digital or not in professional and personal contexts.

Document type: 
Thesis
Senior supervisor: 
Ron Wakkary
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Exploring the notion of ‘Grinding’ in massively multiplayer online role playing gamer discourse: the case of Guild Wars

Date created: 
2013-05-29
Abstract: 

The grind in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) has been described by game studies theorists as an inscrutable, paradoxical convergence of work and play (Dibbell, 2006; Yee, 2006), troubling previously held notions about the carefree nature of play as advanced by seminal theorists such as Johan Huizinga (1951). However, despite the recent academic fervor around MMOGs, examinations of the grind offer little insight into why players grind, and even less about what the grind means to its practitioners. Studying the collected forum and interview texts of a six-year old MMOG community, this dissertation adopts a Wittgensteinian approach to discourse analysis in an effort to learn more about the grind and what it means to the players who practice it. This ‘mapping out’ of the grind’s meaning in the Guild Wars community is intended to both start and/or contribute to a dialog in game studies that examines how play can be situated theoretically with respect to phenomena so often construed as undesirable by its players while also providing a functional instrument for others to adopt in their further analysis of this phenomenon.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Bowes
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Game Design Framework and Guidelines Based on a Theory of Visual Attention

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-05-28
Abstract: 

The design of video games has a tremendous impact in shaping our experience, and one area is through their visual designs. Action games in particular engulf the player in highly dynamic and sensory rich environments where challenges can easily be misperceived. For example, the player may feel overwhelmed, fail to notice important elements, or take the wrong course of action as a result of distractions. Pinpointing and solving these problems are difficult without taking into consideration the underlying mechanisms of human visual information processing. In this effort, this dissertation develops a perception-based game design framework supported by a theory of visual attention. This framework was applied to consider perceptual features of motion affecting the visual design, and their effects on the player’s experience. Perceptual features of motion are often overlooked in games, but cannot be ignored. Perception and attention researchers found numerous effects of motion on users’ task performances and affective responses that are of interest to the game design and user research community. The contribution of this work consists of an investigation of a perception-based framework for elements in motion within commercial and an experimental game called EMOS (Expressive MOtion Shooter). This is followed by identifying and validating two perception-based guidelines. The guidelines are novel such they are empirically expressed, based on expert game designers’ manipulations of perceptual features in EMOS. This contribution also benefits the design and human computer interaction communities, since results include qualitative reflections from game designers concerning this topic.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Lyn Bartram
Magy Seif El-Nasr
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Technology preferences and routines for distributed families coping with a chronic illness

Date created: 
2013-04-02
Abstract: 

Most family members want to stay aware of each other’s activities on an ongoing basis to maintain a sense of connectedness. In situations where a family member is ill, the desire to stay connected increases, as many families face the challenges of coping with the diagnosis and treatment of a chronic illness. Previous research has evaluated technologies designed to support patients and caregivers with personal health information management and sharing. However, we still do not have a detailed understanding of which technologies are preferred and what challenges people still face when sharing information with them. To address this problem, this thesis reports on a mixed-method study that explores technology preferences and health information sharing routines of distributed families coping with a chronic illness. The aim of these studies was to explore the nuances of technology selection and usage in such situations. The findings illustrate the reasons why people choose certain technologies over others, the ways in which they use them, and the challenges they face. Findings also point to the need for tools that mediate sharing health information across distance and age gaps, with consideration to respecting patient privacy and supportive roles while sharing such information.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Carman Neustaedter
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Integrating Annotative Notes and Data in the Analysis Process

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-04-03
Abstract: 

Analysts need to keep track of their analytic findings, observations, ideas, and hypotheses throughout the analysis process. While some visual analytics tools support such note taking needs, these notes are often represented as objects separate from the data and in a workspace separate from the data visualizations. Representing notes the same way as the data and integrating them with data visualizations can enable analysts to build a more cohesive picture of notes and data. We created a note taking functionality called CZNotes within the visual analytics tool CZSaw for analyzing unstructured text documents. CZNotes are designed to use the same model as the data and can thus be visualized in CZSaw's existing data views.We conducted a preliminary user study to observe the use of CZNotes and observed that CZNotes has the potential to support progressive analysis, to act as a shortcut to the data, and supports creation of new data relationships.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
John Dill
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Propagation of change and visualization of causality in dependency structures

Date created: 
2013-03-27
Abstract: 

Analysts use visual analytics tools to gain insight through data. But one problem of these tools is the complexity of the analytics process itself. Sometimes the analyst has to repeat the same task during the analysis; to rerun some previous queries or to update the state of the system by the arrival of new data. CZSaw is a visual analytics tool that stores the process of analysis and visualizes it. The dependency graph of CZSaw allows parts of the analytical process to be reused on new data to prevent repetition of those parts. This document describes the design and development of CZSaw’s dependency graph as well as its visualization. A major challenge is visualization of causality in the graph when an update gets propagated. We compare three different causality visualization methods in terms of task completion duration and accuracy in a study.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Chris Shaw
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.Sc.

Neo-modernist visual design of avatars in second life

Date created: 
2010-11-12
Abstract: 

This qualitative research considers the suitability of importing a Modernist aesthetic framework onto an avatar’s visual design in Second Life. This thesis explores whether the “archaic” Modernist concept of “medium specificity” can still be creatively expressed within the Post-Modern context of digitally plastic “multi-media” environments. This research focuses on avatar artefacts as a means to better understand Second Life’s distinct design properties. The researcher assumed the participant-observer role of a “Modern Art-Critic” in order to personify the Modernist discourse through avatar interaction. Specific activities included a case-study (which included a workshop and subsequent focus group), expert interviews and the textual analysis of avatar designs. Based on these activities, the thesis articulates seven higher level findings. These findings illustrate Modernist issues involving abstraction and representation. The results also indicate that the participants attributed more “narrative” associations towards their “abstract” avatars than initially hypothesized.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
James Bizzocchi
Department: 
Communication, Art & Technology: School of Interactive Arts and Technology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.