On April 25, as the spring semester was in its intense final days, six InfoSeekers presented practicum posters to their colleagues and Professor Chirag Shah, who had advised them on the projects. Here are representative photos of each doctoral student presenter with the title of their practicum. (Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom.)
Three cheers to InfoSeeking Lab Director Chirag Shah and several other InfoSeekers who helped organize and host a successful CHIIR conference.
On March 11, some 130 researchers from 25 countries in North America, Europe and Australia descended on New Brunswick for five days of workshops, presentations, tutorials, networking and fun.
CHIIR stands for the Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval, which is sponsored by the Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (SIGIR), in cooperation with (SIGCHI). The international conference represents a merger of two successful past events: the Information Interaction in Context (IIiX) conference and the Human Computer Information Retrieval (HCIR) symposium, which have run since 2006 and 2007, respectively.
The events took place at the SC&I building on the College Avenue campus of Rutgers and at The Heldrich Hotel in New Brunswick. This year’s keynote speakers were Pertti Vakkari from Finland’s University of Tampere and Susan Dumais from Microsoft. Dr. Vakkari spoke about “Information Search Processes in Complex Tasks,” focusing on key areas in information retrieval, such as how the effect of information search would depend on task outcome. Dr. Dumais’s talk, entitled, “Better Together: Interdisciplinary Perspective on Information Retrieval,” reflected on her work in Information Retrieval and Human-Computer Interaction and provided some predictions on the future of search on the Web.
The major areas of study discussed at CHIIR 2018 included user-centered aspects of information interaction and information retrieval focusing on aspects of human involvement in search activities, and information seeking and use in context.
InfoSeeking Lab Director Chirag Shah said, “I’m very proud of InfoSeekers for representing our lab at this international conference – not just with their scholarly contributions (papers, posters, demos, doctoral consortium), but also in helping organize this event.”
Photo credits: Souvick Ghosh, Matt Mitsui, Chirag Shah.
Coagmento was initially developed by Chirag Shah, in 2007, as a research project for his PhD dissertation. When Dr. Shah brought Coagmento to Rutgers University, it was further developed by his PhD student Roberto Gonzalez-Ibanez, followed by several other undergraduate and graduate students at Rutgers. Over the decade, many iterations of Coagmento have been released in Beta and public versions, as it continues to be tested and used and some bugs worked out. In 2013, Coagmento Collaboratory was released and later that year the first full version, Coagmento 1.0, was released. In 2016, Coagmento 2.0 was released, and later this year Coagmento 3.0 will be released with the aim to be even more user friendly.
What exactly is Coagmento and what does it do? Coagmento is a Web-based, open-source tool for information seeking that facilitates the collecting of information and collaborating on projects in teams. It helps the user at every step by recording visited Websites, bookmarking pages, and collecting pictures or snippets of text or source information. All along a live chat feature allows team members to confer from remote locations over multiple sessions. At the back-end, Coagmento is comprised of two major components: (1) Node.js, which creates a server-side notification framework and “push notifications,” and (2) is coded in Laravel, a Model-View-Controller PHP framework that supports several SQL databases. Since version 2.0, Coagmento has been available through GitHub as an open-source tool.
Coagmento 1.0 in action.
On the serious side, Coagmento can allow collaborators to work on challenging informational tasks. For example, it could help siblings gather information about their parent’s illness so they can be proactive in making decisions. In a classroom setting, Coagmento has been deployed for dozens of students to up to several hundred to facilitate collaboration. Keeping track of disparate pieces of information means that when the student/researcher sits down to write a report or create a presentation, the information is saved in a workspace where it can be put it together.
On the lighter side, Dr. Shah said, “When my wife Lori and I were planning our wedding, we used Coagmento to keep track of places in the North Carolina mountains for location consideration so we could make a decision with all the pieces in front of us.” He continued, “But, it’s come a long way since then as not only a tool but also a platform for supporting and studying individual and collaborative information seeking.”
Here’s a toast to the next ten years as Coagmento continues to evolve in usefulness and application to many of life’s information challenges.
On this, the 18th day of 2018, let’s take one last look at some of the great moments of 2017.
In 2017, InfoSeekers attended classes, did their homework, performed experiments, compiled results, had meetings, collaborated on papers and posters, traveled to conferences, made presentations, and socialized.
Mostly they pushed themselves to do things that haven’t been done before, zeroing in on ways to innovate efficiencies in information science.
Stay tuned for how this A-Team will top that in Twenty-eighteen.
It was a perfect day for the 15th annual race on the College Avenue campus Saturday morning, Dec. 2. The temperature reached a high of 51 degrees Fahrenheit under a beautiful blue sky. A few key representatives of the InfoSeeking Lab were there including Chirag Shah, Matt Mitsui, Anastasia Ryssiouk, as well as yours truly, Liz Smith.
Chirag said, “InfoSeekers have participated in this event for many years and we are proud of it!” Noticed at the race, as well, were Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Debasish “Deba” Dutta, who has been on the job since July 1, and N.J. Governor-elect Phil Murphy.
The only entry requirement was a $15.00 unwrapped (new) toy for a child, ages 3-14. (It makes for a nice swap, as every participant is given the “Big Chill” long-sleeve tee shirt, which would probably retail for about $20.00.) After the race, according to The Daily Targum, the gifts are wrapped and sent to various local organizations, such as the Salvation Army of Bound Brook and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
The race started at 10:00 am, with those who had paid $5.00 to have their timing tracked leading the pack. Something between 7,000 and 8,000 people participated, according to The Daily Targum. The 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) distance is easy enough for those who walked it, and it plays into Rutgers Recreation’s new initiative, “Exercise is Medicine on Campus,” where a more active lifestyle is being promoted to help students focus and manage stress. They recommend at least 115 minutes of exercise a week.
Matt Mitsui traveled light and carried no cell phone, hence no photo, but he reported afterward by email that he had a great time; he said, “The best part of the Chill, of course, is the people. Races are largely a self-competition. But something I like to do every race (and did this time) is find someone at the end to race with towards the finish line. Regardless of who wins or loses, it’s a great way to have fun with a total stranger and to push each other.”
My favorite stretch was a flat scenic loop through Buccleuch Park just before the final push to the finish line. Peer pressure (total strangers cheering) and music always motivates the slow poke.
The jury is in and turkey wins. Of the thirteen Infoseekers who weighed in, eight (61.5%) easily tipped the scale in favor of the fowl. Only two of you prefer turducken (15.4%) and one (7.7%) prefers tofurkey (and of course that is Chirag!). Chirag said, “I’m thankful for wonderful family, friends, and colleagues who surround me. I am grateful for their willingness to embrace me as I am, and forgiving my idiosyncrasies!” Gotta love our fearless leader’s enthusiasm and self-awareness.
One person said their favorite thing about Thanksgiving is, “Turkey in all its glorious forms.” I’ll go along with that. But, thankfully, the now traditional poultry pardon happened on Tuesday this week when two of our fine-feathered friends were granted freedom from appearing on the platter. President Trump – as is now tradition – proclaimed “Drumstick” and his sidekick “Wishbone,” will get to live out their days on a farm called “Gobbler’s Rest” at Virginia Tech. Now I don’t feel so guilty.
Food-wise, even more popular than turkey was a tie (69.2% of us) between mashed potatoes and pecan pie. Next in popularity is a tie (46.2%) between stuffing and apple pie. And five of us (38.5%) love cranberry sauce. And, there were a few who prefer food from another tradition or “other,” whatever that means. Maybe it was Jonathan, who said he is grateful for, “Laughs with friends and family.”
In terms of celebrating styles, nine of us (69.2%) prefer being with family (and it doesn’t matter when we eat). I’ll add, as long as we get to eat! One of you said your favorite thing about Thanksgiving is “Food.” Yes. Many of our favorite things are variations on the theme of food and having a break, but one person mentioned Black Friday Sales. Another mentioned Christmas being “right around the corner.”
Several of you said (Alex, Kelly, Vic) you are thankful for family and friends. Jiqun said he is “grateful for having my wife in my life.” He is one lucky guy. Matt said he’s grateful for “my opportunity to be surrounded by a smart, like-minded (yet diverse!) research community,” and he added a smiley face, one of my favorite sign-offs. And Shawon concurred that she is “grateful for starting as a grad student again, and for getting a chance to begin all over again with a new drive, new goals and something new to prove.” You go, girl! Shannon goes along with the group that includes Matt, Shawon, Vic and Yiwei, who are thankful for faculty and colleagues and the trust that has developed that supports growing confidence in their research. Soumik and Manasa are grateful for getting to travel to new and exotic places this year. Sounds exciting.
All in all, I’m happy to report that InfoSeekers are grateful and normal. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Rutgers University InfoSeeking students and professors were a significant presence at the ASIS&T conference at the Crystal City Hyatt in Washington DC, Oct. 28-Nov. 1. Here are the highlights.
On Oct. 28, Rebecca Reynolds from Rutgers, led a pre-conference SIG/INFOLEARN workshop with Soo Young Rieh, University of Michigan, called “Information and Learning Sciences Research as an Integral Scholarly Nexus.”
On Oct. 29, an all-Rutgers student and professor Community Informatics paper presentation was made by Manasa Rath, Chirag Shah and Diana Floegel: “Identifying the Reasons Contributing to Question Deletion in Educational Q&A.” Pictured at left is Manasa Rath taking questions.
On Monday, Oct. 30, an all-Rutgers Information Retrieval paper presentation on a field study was made by Yiwei Wang, Jiqun Liu, Soumik Mandal, and our fearless leader Chirag Shah, on “Search Successes and Failures in Query Segments and Search Tasks.” Pictured: Yiwei Wang introducing the paper.
Later, on Oct. 30, Kaitlin Costello from Rutgers served on a panel session concerning “Health Information Behavior Research with Marginalized Populations,” along with Blake Hawkins, University of British Columbia, Tiffany Veinot, University of Michigan, Amelia Gibson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Devon Greyson, British Columbia Children’s Hospital.
InfoSeeker posters were presented by Jonathan Pulliza, Souvick Ghosh, JiHo An, and Roberto González Ibáñez. Below to the right is Jonathan Pulliza presenting his poster on “Investigating the Efficacy of Sentence Filtering in Predicting Analysts Ratings Following a 10-K Filing.”
Immediately below (left) is Souvick Ghosh presenting his and Chirag Shah’s poster on “Information Seeking in Learning-Oriented Search.”
That evening (Halloween), Chirag Shah chaired SIG/CON, where Jonathan Pulliza presented a research talk with a twist!
On Nov. 1, the final morning of ASIS&T 2017, Rutgers Ph.D. student Manasa Rath moderated the panel discussion, “Learnsourcing: Is it Working or Failing, and Where to Go from Here?” Presenters and participants were Chirag Shah from Rutgers; Oleksandr Zakharchuk from Brainly Inc.; Rich Gazan from the University of Hawaii; Sanghee Oh from Chungnam National University in South Korea; and Mega Subramaniam from the University of Maryland.
Also on Nov. 1, Shawon Sarkar, Yiwei Wang and Chirag Shah presented the paper, “Investigating Relations of Information Seeking Outcomes to the Selection and Use of Information Sources.”
Pictured right is Shawon Sarkar presenting her paper.
Last but most definitely not least, we must recognize Yiwei Wang for the New Leader Award that she was given at ASIS&T. After considering applications from seven countries, the ASIS&T Leadership Program Selection Committee granted a New Leader Award to Yiwei Wang, a Ph.D. candidate in Information Science at Rutgers. Eight students received the award. Congratulation, Yiwei!
After considering applications from seven countries, the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Leadership Program Selection Committee granted a New Leader Award to Yiwei Wang (pictured right), a Ph.D. candidate in Information Science at Rutgers, at the annual meeting in Washington, D.C. this week. Eight students received the award.
The award is given to students who are considered likely to contribute to ASIS&T. It is a financial grant that helps defray the travel costs to two consecutive ASIS&T meetings. As an awardee, Yiwei has been assigned a mentor, Dr. Beth St. Jean from the University of Maryland.
Yiwei will volunteer for the Special Interest Group of Information Needs, Seeking and Use (SIGUSE). She will continue her role as treasurer for the New Jersey Chapter of ASIS&T.
And, Yiwei will be expected to complete several leadership exploration tasks including writing about her experiences, lessons and goals related to her involvement with ASIS&T.
Celebrating Ten Years of ContextMiner
In 2007, Chirag Shah drove himself cross-country, from Chapel Hill, N.C. to Mountain View, Calif., stopping en route not only to gas up and get coffee but to use his laptop to tweak the online tool he was creating that would soon launch in time to capture and preserve hundreds of 2008 presidential election campaign videos from YouTube for posterity. This tool was and is ContextMiner, an open-source Web service at ContextMiner.org, which harvests the contextual information around a digital object.
Beyond metadata, which is static information, contextual information is dynamic and includes, — for instance, if you’re capturing a video on YouTube — ratings and comments, providing a richer context for understanding the situation and time in which a video was created.
On Public Television’s (PBS) “Antiques Roadshow,” for instance, an object (painting, vase, desk) that is brought in for evaluation is considered infinitely more valuable if the owner has contextual information, such as letters or documents, that help place the object in history. The ten-year anniversary of ContextMiner provides an opportunity to retell the story and alert potential users (librarians, archivists, scientists) of the free service for curating digital information. This includes information around videos as well as the collecting of visuals and other digital objects, just as books and documents have been collected for centuries.
The Project was originally funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and over the years its continued support has been through grants and donations brought by Dr. Shah.
ContextMiner won the prestigious Best Political Science Software Award from the American Political Science Association. It has been used by nearly 2,000 people and organizations, who have collected millions of social media objects and associated metadata/context such as comments, view-counts, and links. ContextMiner has been featured in several magazines and conferences, and used by many scholars, students, and professionals in their pursuit of solutions for socio-political issues by mining social media data.
Here’s to the next ten years of ContextMiner! Try it for yourself at http://contextminer.org.
If you will be attending ASIS&T in Washington DC at the end of this month, plan to attend sessions with fellow InfoSeekers faculty and students presenting new research. And you won’t want to miss the fun party on Monday evening! Sessions begin Saturday morning, October 28 and run through Wednesday morning, November 1.
ASIS&T 2017 Conference Program Sessions
Saturday, October 28
8:30am – 12:30pm SIG INFOLEARN: Information and Learning Sciences Research as an Integral Scholarly Nexus (Workshop)
Rebecca Reynolds, Rutgers University
Soo Young Rieh, University of Michigan
Sunday, October 29
3:00pm Community Informatics (Paper session)
Identifying the Reasons Contributing to Question Deletion in Educational Q&A
Manasa Rath, Rutgers University
Chirag Shah, Rutgers University
Diana Floegel, Rutgers University
9:30pm Party With The Professors
Monday, October 30
10:30am Information Retrieval (Paper Session)
Search Successes and Failures in Query Segments and Search Tasks: A Field Study
Yiwei Wang, Rutgers University
Jiqun Liu, Rutgers University
Soumik Mandal, Rutgers University
Chirag Shah, Rutgers University
1:30pm Health Information Behavior Research with Marginalized Populations (Panel Session)
Blake Hawkins, University of British Columbia
Kaitlin L. Costello, Rutgers University
Tiffany Veinot, University of Michigan
Amelia Gibson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Devon Greyson, British Columbia Children’s Hospital
8:30pm ASIS&T Reception, sponsored by Rutgers University
Tuesday, October 31
12:30pm From Sensors to Sense-Making: Opportunities and Challenges for Information Science (Panel Session)
Cathal Gurrin, Dublin City University
Jacek Gwizdka, University of Texas at Austin
Hideo Joho, University of Tsukuba
Chirag Shah, Rutgers University
Vivek Singh, Rutgers University
7pm SIG CON
Chirag Shah, Rutgers University, Chair
Wednesday, November 1
10:30am Learnsourcing: Is it Working or Failing, and Where to Go from Here? (Panel Session)
Manasa Rath, Rutgers University
Oleksandr Zakharchuk, Brainly Inc.
Rich Gazan, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Sanghee Oh, Chungnam National University in South Korea
Chirag Shah, Rutgers University
Mega Subramaniam, University of Maryland
Sunday, October 29th at 9:30pm: Party with the Professors
Monday, October 30th at 8:30pm: ASIS&T Reception
Tuesday, October 31st at 7pm: SIG CON