South Hall
Berkeley, California 94720

Pictures of Traces of Places, People, and Groups: Recent Work from the Microsoft Research Community Technologies Group
Distinguished Lecture
Speaker(s): Marc A. Smith, Microsoft Research
October 11, 2006, 4:00pm-5:30pm
202 South Hall


The Microsoft Research Community Technologies group focuses on the study and enhancement of computer mediated collective action systems. In this talk I will present recent developments in projects that highlight and attempt to enhance computer mediated collective action: Netscan, SNARF and AURA.

Netscan is a set of tools and services for online communities. Netscan manufactures “social accounting metadata” about Usenet newsgroups and web boards, providing reports about discussion spaces and individuals that highlight patterns of activity and contribution in tabular and graphical forms. We have recently developed faster data update models, new Web service interfaces, a custom community portal page, and a new information visualization application (“Usenet Views”) that makes it simple to map and chart newsgroup communities. New sources of community content, from web boards, forums, discussion boards, email lists, and related repositories of threaded conversation are being analyzed by the Netscan system.

SNARF applies the concepts explored in the Netscan project to personal collections of email. SNARF provides tools to implement “social sorting” — reordering email collections based on the strength of different dimensions of the relationship between sender and receiver. For example, using SNARF, unread email from people can be ranked higher if they are often replied to by the user. A by-product of this tool is the generation of a high-dimensional dataset describing the structure and temporal patterns created through the exchange of email overtime. This dataset offers useful insights into the nature of email-based communications. Results from initial deployments of SNARF will be presented along with recent images generated by the SNARF Views extension to SNARF.

The AURA: Advanced User Resource Annotation system is a platform for Pocket PCs, Smartphones and mobile PCs that have various kinds of sensors such as barcode readers, digital cameras, WiFi signal strength detection, radio frequency identification (RFID) tag readers, and GPS. Using AURA today, users can scan the barcodes on everyday objects in the home, office, or store and gain access to related information and services such as competitive pricing and product reviews. Other kinds of tags, such as tags placed on art or equipment asset tags, can be easily linked to related data through Web sites or Web service interfaces. This talk covers several developments in the mobile annotation space and describes future directions for AURA and related services.

Official Website:

Added by k7lim on September 15, 2006