Tuesday 12pm, 20 January 2015


Creating User Interfaces that Entice People to Manage Better Information

David Karger

Professor - CSAIL @ MIT


Abstract: Much research in information management begins by asking how to manage a given information corpus. But information management systems can only be as good as the information they manage. They struggle and often fail to correctly infer meaning from large blobs of text and the mysterious actions and demands of users. And they are useless for managing information that is never captured.

Instead of accepting the existing information as an immutable condition, I will argue that there are significant opportunities to help and motivate people to improve the quality and quantity of information their tools manage, and to exploit that better information to benefit its users.

The greatest challenge in doing so is developing systems, and particularly user interfaces, that overcome humans' perverse reluctance to invest small present-moment effort for large future payoffs. Effective systems must minimize the effort needed to record high-quality information and maximize the perceived future benefits of that information investment.

I will support these ideas with examples covering structured data management and presentation, notetaking, collaborative filtering, and social media.


David Karger (Ph.D. Stanford University, 1994) is a Professor of Computer Science and a member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His work spans many areas of computer science including algorithms, information retrieval, databases, machine learning, natural language processing, distributed systems, coding and communication, networking, and human computer interaction.

His work in Information Management includes document classification and clustering, probabilistic models for information retrieval and extraction, Semantic Web tools, Personal Information Management, the social web, and crowdsourcing. An ongoing interest has been developing tools that give individual users more power to define the way their own information is modeled, organized, visualized, and managed. He also co-led MIT's SIMILE project, a collaboration with MIT Libraries and the World Wide Web consortium developing Semantic-Web tools to improve the management and retrieval of information at the institutional level.

He received the National Academy of Science's 2004 Award for Initiatives in research and was elected an ACM Fellow in 2009. He was program co-chair for the 2009 International Semantic Web Conference and regularly serves on the program committees for ISWC, WWW and CHI.