I met with Patrick and Lorrie, who gave me an idea of the project
I will be working on. They pointed me to some papers on privacy
in online social networking sits (SNSs), as well as some research that
CUPS pusblished recently.
I looked up more backround research on Facebook statistics, social networking sites and how people tend to group friend online.
We started brainstorming questions to get users to think about how they would like to have their friends grouped on SNSs, specificaly Facebook. To be able to carry out interviews myself, I had to complete an IRB certification.
I will also be helping Rich and Saranga on another project studying password requirements. This week I set up a table with the password requirements of some major websites to get background information on the current state of password requirements.
Patrick, Robin and I finished a first draft of the questions that
we would like to ask our subjects during the interviews.
We continued to look for related research. We broadened our search
to psychological and sociological papers studying social networks, as
well as different papers on social network visualizations.
We also worked on a script with everything that we want to say and ask during the interviews. It is harder than I had realized to come up with good study questions that will be general enough to apply to a significant portion of your interviews, but specific enough that you will get a useful answer!
This week I worked on making a Facebook app that saves the user's
list of friends with their profile pictures on the lab's server. I
learned how to use php and the
At first it was frustrating to try to find documentation
on how to use the Facebook API
but there are lots of helpful blogs with working examples.
We also sent out the interview script that we have finished so far to the IRB so that it can get approved as soon as possible.
With the working script, we asked people around the lab to pilot the interview script with us. We focused on finding which questions usually give us interesting answers, and which ones generally do not apply. We also started to think of different methods to show our subjects their friends to see if the way they grouped them would change. Some ideas were: to give them a pile of cards, to use card sorting software, to give them a big piece of paper to draw on, to use the OS X file system, to spread out the cards on a table, to use the Facebook Friend Lists interface.
After more piloting we have a finalized version of the script and survey that we are going to use with our subjects. We have heard back from the IRB so after some minor tweaks we should be able to start running actual studies. It'll be fun to test these questions with people who aren't as security/privacy conscious as the people working here, and to find patterns in how they think about their groups of friends on Facebook.
This week has been frustrating because we're basically ready to interview actual people but we are still waiting for IRB aproval on some small changes that we made. We switched the survey and consent form to be online and it has to be approved. So, Robin and I talked to Lorrie and we have decided to work on AT&T's Big Mobile On Campus Challenge as a secondary project. We're thinking of developing some kind of simple, limited location sharing app. The idea is that the sharing would be one-time and limited so that people are not scared about their privacy as with other continuous location-sharing apps.
This fourth of July we went to downtown to watch the fireworks
from one of Pittsburgh's many bridges. It was quite a show! It was
really pretty to watch the fireworks above the river with the people
on their different boats and kayaks. Getting back home was an
adventure - all the buses were full and people were starting to go
crazy! Overall it was a great day.
Finally, we got IRB approval. We have started running real user studies. It is interesting to see people's reactions at being given a huge pile of cards with their 600 Facebook Friends and being told to sort them. Some of them have a really good idea of how their friends split up into different circles, but some of them are slightly overwhelmed by the task on hand.
This week we went to the
conference in Seattle, WA.
It was quite an experience to see so many researchers working on
similar things as us. We got to talk to Simon Jones,
who is working on an automated approach to make Facebook Groups. In
his research, he used a very similar method as we are doing right
now, so we exchanged ideas.
Best of all, the conference was held at Microsoft Campus in Redmond so we had a tour of Microsoft Research and explored Microsoft Campus a bit. There was also a dinner cruise on Lake Washington and we stayed to visit Downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainier over the Weekend. It was a great week!
We got back to Pittsburgh Monday morning and started running user studies an hour later. This week we're up to our elbows in interviews. We have 4 different methods so it's still early to see what kind of grouping patterns we're going to get (if any), but we'll find out soon enough!
This is my final week here. On Wednesday, Robin and I presented to the rest of the lab. It went very well, we got a lot of comments and suggestions about metrics we could use or what a final interface might look like. The most exciting thing is that this work will be continued by our grad student, Patrick, and that it will get submitted to CHI 2010 . I hope it does, since I think it is very interesting, relevant research! The 10 weeks went by really fast, and I am kind of sad that they are over. I met a lot of sweet people here and we will definitely have to keep in touch!