News

Participated in Return on Creativity panel

Dr. Luther joined Prof. Ben Knapp (VT Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology) and Ms. Natalie Hart (VT Advancement) for a panel titled, “Return on Creativity: From Creativity to Innovation.” The event was sponsored by Arlington Economic Development (AED) and held at the Virginia Tech Research Center-Arlington on April 4. The abstract for the panel was as follows:

For the past seven years, Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) has been pushing the envelope of creative exploration. Through partnerships with all the colleges at Virginia Tech, ICAT has assembled teams of scientists, engineers, artists, and designers to tackle some of the most complex innovation challenges that drive economic development. Join us to hear about the Creativity and Innovation District at Virginia Tech, ICAT’s role within it and the critical importance of human-centered design.

More press for Civil War Photo Sleuth

Courtesy: Matt Gentry/Roanoke Times

Our Civil War Photo Sleuth project continues to attract press and media attention. Here is a roundup of additional articles since the last post:

Best Paper Award at IUI 2019

Dr. Kurt Luther (center) receives the IUI 2019 Best Paper Award from PC co-chairs Oliver Brdiczka (left) and Polo Chau (right). Photo courtesy John Wenskovitch.

Our paper, “Photo Sleuth: Combining Human Expertise and Face Recognition to Identify Historical Portraits,” received the Best Paper Award at IUI 2019 in Los Angeles, CA. This award recognized the best paper among 282 submissions. Congratulations to lead author Vikram Mohanty (CS Ph.D. student), David Thames (CS undergraduate), and Sneha Mehta (CS Ph.D. student). A video of the talk (presented by Dr. Luther is embedded below.

Dr. Kurt Luther presents Photo Sleuth at IUI 2019.

Presented at Civil War Photo Talks

Courtesy: Kerone Wetter

Dr. Luther gave an invited presentation, titled “Civil War Photo Sleuthing: Past, Present, and Future” at Civil War Photo Talks in Arlington, VA, co-sponsored by Military Images Magazine and Civil War Faces. Other invited speakers included Ann Shumard, National Portrait Gallery; Micah Messenheimer, Library of Congress; Bryan Cheeseboro, National Archives; and Rick Brown, Military Images. The abstract for Dr. Luther’s talk was as follows:

People have struggled to identify unknown soldiers and sailors in Civil War photos since even before the war ended. In this talk, I trace the 150-year history of photo sleuthing, showing how the passage of time has magnified some challenges, but also unlocked exciting new possibilities. I show how technologies like social media, face recognition, and digital archives allow us to solve photo mysteries that have eluded families and researchers for a century and a half.

Paper accepted to CHI 2019 HCI + AI workshop

Our paper, “Flud: a hybrid crowd-algorithm approach for visualizing biological networks,” was accepted to the CHI 2019 workshop titled, Where is the Human? Bridging the Gap Between AI and HCI, in Glasgow, Scotland. Congratulations to Crowd Lab co-authors Aditya Bharadwaj (Ph.D. student) and David Gwizdala (undergraduate researcher), as well as Yoonjin Kim and Aditya’s co-advisor, Dr. T.M. Murali.

Presented at University of Washington DUB Seminar

Dr. Luther gave an invited presentation, titled “Solving Photo Mysteries with Expert-Led Crowdsourcing,” at the University of Washington’s DUB (Design, Use, Build) Seminar on February 27. Here is the abstract for the presentation:

Investigators in domains such as journalism, military intelligence, and human rights advocacy frequently analyze photographs of questionable or unknown provenance. These photos can provide invaluable leads and evidence, but even experts must invest significant time in each analysis, with no guarantee of success. Crowdsourcing, with its affordances for scalability and parallelization, has great potential to augment expert performance, but little is known about how crowds might fit into photo analysts’ complex workflows. In this talk, I present my group’s research with two communities: open-source investigators who geolocate and verify social media photos, and antiquarians who identify unknown persons in 19th-century portrait photography. Informed by qualitative studies of current practice, we developed a novel approach, expert-led crowdsourcing, that combines the complementary strengths of experts and crowds to solve photo mysteries. We built two software tools based on this approach, GroundTruth and Photo Sleuth, and evaluated them with real experts. I conclude by discussing some broader takeaways for crowdsourced investigations, sensemaking, and image analysis.

Dr. Luther named ACWM Emerging Scholar

Dr. Luther was selected as one of eight Emerging Scholars by the American Civil War Museum in Richmond, VA. He will give an invited presentation on Civil War Photo Sleuth to audiences at the grand opening of the newly expanded museum on May 4. The goal of the program is to “highlight some of the most interesting work of the next generation of writers, communicators, and thinkers of Civil War era history/public history.”

Guest editing a special issue of Transactions on Social Computing

Cover of Transactions on Social Computing journal

Dr. Luther is the lead guest editor for an upcoming special issue of the journal ACM Transactions on Social Computing. The theme of the special issue, “Negotiating Truth and Trust in Socio-Technical Systems“, emerged from the Designing Socio-Technical Systems of Truth workshop that Dr. Luther led at Virginia Tech in March 2018. The special issue co-editors are Crowd Lab postdoc Jacob Thebault-Spieker, Andrea Kavanaugh (Virginia Tech), and Judd Antin (AirBnb).

Paper accepted for CHI 2019

CHI 2019 logo

Congrats to Crowd Lab Ph.D. student Aditya Bharadwaj for his accepted paper at the upcoming CHI 2019 conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in May. The acceptance rate for this top-tier human-computer interaction conference is 24%. The paper, titled “Critter: Augmenting Creative Work with Dynamic Checklists, Automated Quality Assurance, and Contextual Reviewer Feedback“, was co-authored with colleagues Pao Siangliulue and Adam Marcus at the New York-based startup B12, where Aditya interned last summer. The paper’s abstract is as follows:

Checklists and guidelines have played an increasingly important role in complex tasks ranging from the cockpit to the operating theater. Their role in creative tasks like design is less explored. In a needfinding study with expert web designers, we identified designers’ challenges in adhering to a checklist of design guidelines. We built Critter, which addressed these challenges with three components: Dynamic Checklists that progressively disclose guideline complexity with a self-pruning hierarchical view, AutoQA to automate common quality assurance checks, and guideline-specific feedback provided by a reviewer to highlight mistakes as they appear. In an observational study, we found that the more engaged a designer was with Critter, the fewer mistakes they made in following design guidelines. Designers rated the AutoQA and contextual feedback experience highly, and provided feedback on the tradeoffs of the hierarchical Dynamic Checklists. We additionally found that a majority of designers rated the AutoQA experience as excellent and felt that it increased the quality of their work. Finally, we discuss broader implications for supporting complex creative tasks.