Tuesday 12pm, 21 February 2017


Inquire: Large-scale Early Insight Discovery for Qualitative Research

Pablo Paredes

Post-doc - Stanford University


We introduce Inquire, a tool designed to enable qualitative exploration of utterances in social media and large-scale texts. As opposed to keyword search, Inquire allows the effective use of sentences as queries to quickly explore millions of documents to retrieve semantically-similar sentences. We apply Inquire to (LJ) database, which contains millions of personal diaries, and we use semantic embeddings trained in LJ or Google News (GN) datasets. We present the system design through iterative evaluations with qualitative researchers. We show how queries become a part of the inductive process, enabling researchers to try multiple ideas while gaining intuition and discovering less-obvious insights. We discuss the choice of LJ as a rich source of public posts, the preference for GN embeddings which link formal language (e.g. “reminiscence triggers”) with colloquial expressions (e.g. “music brings back memories”), the interplay between tool and user, and potential qualitative and social research opportunities.

We will complement this presentation with a demo of the tool that we expect to use to further investigate the use of visualization and additional interactive elements to extend the ability to draw qualitative insights from large-scale text data.


Pablo Paredes got his PhD at Berkeley working with Prof. John Canny at the Berkeley Institute of Technology (BiD). He is currently a Postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University working under Prof. James Landay and Wendy Ju. His research focuses on the creation of tools that blend HCI with AI and NLP to promote well-being, and work-life balance. Additionally, he wants to create tools to enhance and encourage mental health and well-being technology research across disciplines both in the US, and his home country Ecuador. He actively leverages his prior experience as a strategic and product manager to foster the creation of start-ups in this field. His current focus is to change the commute to make it a moment of personal growth. Among other techniques he wants to use breathing techniques, mindful immersion and conversational agents to reduce burnout, and foster stress management.