Tuesday 12pm, 23 April 2019

Andrew noura.001

Life-Affirming Biosensing in Public: Sounding Heartbeats on a Red Bench; Managing Messes in Computational Notebooks 

Noura Howell and Andrew Head

Graduate Student - UC Berkeley


Life-Affirming Biosensing in Public: Sounding Heartbeats on a Red Bench Authors: Noura Howell (presenting), Greg Niemeyer, Kimiko Ryokai

`Smart city' narratives herald promises of IoT data-driven innovations leveraging biosensing technologies. We argue these prevalent narratives often overlook a potential benefit of city living: affirmation. We designed the Heart Sounds Bench, which amplifies the heart sounds of those sitting on it. We outline our design intent to invite rest, reflection, and recognition of others' lives in public space. We share results from a pilot study of 19 participants. Participants expressed feeling connected to a shared life energy including others and the environment, and described heart sounds as feeling intimate yet anonymous. Finally, we elaborate the concept of life-affirmation in terms of recognition of others' lives, feeling connection, and respecting difference with opacity, as a way of helping 'smart city' designs embrace a multiplicity of desires.

Managing Messes in Computational Notebooks  Andrew Head (presenting), Fred Hohman, Titus Barik, Steven M. Drucker, and Robert DeLine

Data analysts use computational notebooks to write code for analyzing and visualizing data. Notebooks help analysts iteratively write analysis code by letting them interleave code with output, and selectively execute cells. However, as analysis progresses, analysts leave behind old code and outputs, and overwrite important code, producing cluttered and inconsistent notebooks. In this talk, I will introduce code gathering tools, extensions to computational notebooks that help analysts find, clean, recover, and compare versions of code in cluttered, inconsistent notebooks. The tools archive all versions of code outputs, allowing analysts to review these versions and recover the subsets of code that produced them. These subsets can serve as succinct summaries of analysis activity or starting points for new analyses. In a qualitative usability study, 12 professional analysts found the tools useful for cleaning notebooks and writing analysis code, and discovered new ways to use them, like generating personal documentation and lightweight versioning. 


This is a double header CHI presentation preview session, featuring UC Berkeley graduate students Noura Howell and Andrew Head.

About Noura: Noura Howell's design research explores emotional, material, and embodied aspects of data, particularly data about people's bodies, thoughts, and behaviors. What can (and can't) this data say about how we feel? How do we feel about this data? How might this data shape the way we feel, and shape how we relate to ourselves and others? She explores these questions by building sensing technologies that produce data (e.g., heart rate, skin conductance) while fostering tangible, embodied, social meaning-making with this data. The highly varied and often surprising social and emotional experiences of people with these artifacts offer provocative yet experientially grounded speculative directions for designing with data. Noura Howell is a member of the BioSENSE lab. Previously she has worked as a human centered designer and engineer in Singapore, Morocco, and China, as well as at the MIT Media Lab, Intel Labs, and Microsoft. Website:

About Andrew:  Andrew Head is a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. In his dissertation research, he studies how interactive systems can help programmers share their expertise. These systems help programmers create code examples, and enrich programming tutorials with context-relevant explanations of code. He has built and studied software development tools with software engineering research teams at Google and Microsoft Research. He is supported by the NDSEG fellowship, and his work has been nominated for best paper awards at VL/HCC and CHI. Website: