Computing and Information Systems - Theses

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    Task assignment using worker cognitive ability and context to improve data quality in crowdsourcing
    Hettiachchi Mudiyanselage, Danula Eranjith ( 2021)
    While crowd work on crowdsourcing platforms is becoming prevalent, there exists no widely accepted method to successfully match workers to different types of tasks. Previous work has considered using worker demographics, behavioural traces, and prior task completion records to optimise task assignment. However, optimum task assignment remains a challenging research problem, since proposed approaches lack an awareness of workers' cognitive abilities and context. This thesis investigates and discusses how to use these key constructs for effective task assignment: workers' cognitive ability, and an understanding of the workers' context. Specifically, the thesis presents 'CrowdCog', a dynamic online system for task assignment and task recommendations, that uses fast-paced online cognitive tests to estimate worker performance across a variety of tasks. The proposed task assignment method can achieve significant data quality improvements compared to a baseline where workers select preferred tasks. Next, the thesis investigates how worker context can influence task acceptance, and it presents 'CrowdTasker', a voice-based crowdsourcing platform that provides an alternative form factor and modality to crowd workers. Our findings inform how to better design crowdsourcing platforms to facilitate effective task assignment and recommendation, which can benefit both workers and task requesters.
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    Supporting the User Experience of Running with Mixed Reality Stories
    Kan, Aleksandr ( 2019)
    Mixed reality stories (MRS) are stories designed to create a mixed reality experience with particular activities, such as running. A wide commercial success of a mixed reality stories designed for running suggested that such a format could provide unique benefits compared to other kinds of mixed reality systems. Yet little is known about how the user experience of running with mixed reality stories can be supported. This thesis aims to address this problem. To reach this aim I conducted three empirical qualitative studies. Study 1 explores the experience of running with an existing commercially successful mixed reality story. In this study, 11 participants ran with the MRS for three weeks and reported on their experience via semi-structured open-ended interviews before and after the trial, along with keeping a running diary throughout the study. The study helped to evaluate which aspects are most significant for constructing the user experience of MRS, how runners balance different aspects on the go, the importance of participants’ attitudes towards running, and also indicated that MRS format is different from both conventional audiobooks and traditional mixed reality systems. Study 2 focuses on how creative writers address running when working on the stories. During this study, three writers created three distinct stories with different approaches to connecting the physical and virtual worlds. Semi-structured discussions with the writers, along with the analysis of the stories they created helped to understand the differences between the approaches they used, and how writers repurpose familiar story mechanics for addressing running. Finally, Study 3 examines how runners perceive mixed reality stories. In it, 36 participants completed 45 runs with the three MRS created in the previous study. Similarly to Study 1, their experience was captured via semi-structured open-ended interviews after their runs. The findings of the study introduced four stages of story perception and revealed how such perceptions depend on participants’ personal relationships with running. Moreover, Study 3 validated, clarified, connected and extended findings from the first two studies, thus bringing the thesis to closure. Overall, this thesis addresses the gap in our understanding in how the user experience of running with mixed reality stories can be supported by clarifying how MRS are different from both traditional stories and other mixed reality systems, and how they enhance running by providing welcome distractions and by changing the meaning of the running. It suggests how runners balance different aspects of a complex experience by voluntarily engaging when it suits them. Finally, it breaks down the three most significant aspects of the MRS experience—running, story and MRS elements—to provide more understanding of how they work, and suggests how these insights could be used in practice.
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    Digital technologies and encounters with zoo animals
    Webber, Sarah Ellen ( 2019)
    Zoos worldwide are beginning to deploy digital technologies for both visitors and animals. Such installations include interactive signage for visitors and touchscreen computers for animal cognition research. Zoos present animals in carefully crafted settings, with the aim of inspiring visitors’ respect and concern for wildlife. However, little is known about the effects that digital technologies can have on visitors’ encounters with zoo animals. This thesis addresses this knowledge gap by investigating the design of digital technology that might support zoos in shaping visitors’ perceptions of animals. Through four studies, different methodological approaches are brought to bear on this question. This thesis commences by surveying the broader context of the zoo, through a first study which investigates digital technologies at a selected zoo. This case study examines the deployment and use of interactive systems against deeper themes relating to the zoo’s mission and exhibit design intentions. The outcomes of this study reveal tensions related to the introduction of digital displays within the naturalistic setting that zoos construct. The second study focuses on a particular design project to identify the special considerations relating to design of animal interactives, digital technologies to be used by zoo animals. Research through design approaches are adopted to examine the co-design of an interactive installation for use by orangutans. From this study emerge twelve considerations for designing animal interactives in zoos. These considerations respond to zoos’ visitor engagement strategies, animal interaction aims, and constraints associated with conducting iterative design in the zoo setting. The third study continues the trajectory of design, providing a formative evaluation of the animal interactive. This study, conducted as part of the design process, examines how the design intentions manifest in Study 2 were realised in visitors’ responses to the installation. Interviews conducted with visitors at the exhibit reveal a variety of cognitive and emotional forms of empathetic responses. Study 3 brings into focus the concept of belief in animal mind as a significant aspect of people’s responses to seeing animal interaction, motivating the subsequent evaluation of effects on perceptions of animal minds. The fourth study comprises a systematic evaluation of the effects of the animal interactive on visitors’ perceptions of animals. Study 4 combines qualitative methods to probe deeper notions of belief in animal mind, and quantitative methods to measure the effects of the animal interactive. This final study of the thesis entails a field experiment, to compare perceptions of visitors who witnessed use of the animal interactive to those of a control group who did not. In the final Discussion, four themes are developed which transect the studies. Addressing the social dimensions of animal-human-computer interaction, digital technology in naturalistic settings, anthropomorphism, and interactive design with animals, these themes respond to contemporary challenges for the field of animal-computer interaction.
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    Performances and publics while watching and live-streaming video games on Twitch.tv
    Robinson, Naomi Eleanor Isobel ( 2019)
    Twitch.tv is a video live-streaming website that launched in 2011 with content centred mostly, but not exclusively, on the playing of video games. Streamers or broadcasters play games in real-time often accompanied by a face camera and audio, while viewers or audiences watch them and interact through a text chat. This study responds to the small, but growing literature surrounding Twitch, and addresses the relative lack of ethnographic research on the topic. Previous research on the platform has focussed thus far on technical aspects of the platform, however user-focused qualitative research on the platform has started to emerge, making this research both timely and relevant. This thesis considers how, and to what extent, the social practices of users contribute to the concepts of ‘networked publics’ and ‘social performance’. It draws on the work of danah boyd and Erving Goffman and considers the usefulness of their theoretical contributions to help contextualise the forms and amendments associated with platforms like Twitch. The analysis emerges from an ethnographic study conducted completely online that features reflexive participant observation, semi-structured, open-ended interviews conducted via email, and in-depth observations of participants’ channels. The thesis is divided into three thematically-organised main data chapters that then feed into a discussion that draws them together to consider a larger conceptual framework. The first such data chapter, ‘Twitch as a Social Media Platform’, argues that the platform demonstrates its role as a social networking site through evidence of matchmaking and mental health. The second main chapter, ‘Twitch as a hobby-profession’, addresses casual and serious leisure and considers the platform in terms of personal investment, branding, and streamer motivation. The third main chapter, ‘Interactions of Streamers and Viewers’, considers the different types of interactions displayed between various users including parasocal relationships and how audiences may hold power on Twitch. Overall, the thesis offers insight into platform use and it characterises Twitch as a user-led participatory space for like-minded individuals who interact in particular ways in a shared community of practice. The interactions exist along a flexible continuum of differing levels of intimacy where users can lurk, actively participate, and network on both personal and professional levels. Audiences are critical for the platform to function, for communities to flourish, and for streamer success. Streamers build rapport and construct ‘authentic’ brands to attract viewers and promote loyalty and sincerity, and users are seen to actively shape and shift extant social structures and practices over time. Ultimately, users find meaning, produce a sense of community belonging, forge social networks, and shape their own identities in relation to others. The thesis concludes that Twitch somewhat paradoxically is both fleeting and robustly sustained by its contemporary community of practice. This community is produced and maintained through interaction and performance that shapes the construction of Twitch’s publics, with Twitch itself acting as a large participatory public as well. Performative sociality and networking are understood as key driving forces for Twitch, offering a rewarding space to make relationships, participate in self-care, share in leisure, and build potential livelihoods, with entertainment becoming a pleasing secondary function.
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    Designing a tangible user interface for the learning of motor skills in spinal mobilisation
    Chacon Salas, Dimas Antony ( 2018)
    Current techniques in the learning of psychomotor skills in physiotherapy, especially in spinal mobilisation, follow the traditional classroom approach: an expert performs a demonstration and students try to emulate the task by practising on each other while receiving mostly verbal feedback from the instructor. The introduction of a tailored tangible user interface would overcome the limitation of requiring the presence of a tutor and an extra fellow student, improving the scalability of the teaching delivery, and provide more objective feedback. Inspired by this opportunity, this work presents SpinalLog, a visuo-haptic interface that replicates the shape and deformable sensation of a human lower spine for the learning of spinal mobilisation techniques by employing conductive foam. This smart material is used simultaneously to sense vertebral displacements and provide passive haptic feedback to the user, emulating the flexibility of a spine. However, there is a need to understand the impact of the feedback provided in the learning of spinal mobilisation. Therefore, this work aims to design and implement SpinalLog to improve the teaching of this activity, and to investigate the effect of visual feedback, deformable haptic perception and shape fidelity in the learning of this delicate psychomotor task. We evaluated each of these three features—Visual Feedback, Passive Haptic Feedback, and Physical Fidelity—in the first part of an experiment to understand their effects on physiotherapy students' ability to replicate a mobilisation pattern recorded by an expert. Whereas in the second and last part of the experiment we presented the full features of our system to the students to gather their viewpoint for future improvement. From the first part of the experiment, we found that simultaneous feedback has the largest effect, followed by passive haptic feedback. The high fidelity of the interface has little quantitative effect, but it plays an important role in students' perceptions of the benefit of the system. From the second part of the experiment, we found that students had a favourable view on the SpinalLog suggesting improvements for the shape fidelity and the visual components.
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    Designing video-mediated technologies to cultivate indigenous knowledge over distance
    Awori, Kagonya ( 2017)
    Technology design influences what users know about the world, and how they construct that knowledge. This is especially true for technologies that underlie the communication and representation of information and knowledge. Relatedly, how designers understand and prioritise certain ways of knowing over others influences how technologies are designed for people within a given context. From these premises, this thesis investigates how video-mediated technologies may be designed to support transnationals in cultivating the indigenous knowledge (IK) of their homeland, while they live elsewhere in the world. Through three field studies between Australia and Kenya, this thesis investigates how digital technologies currently used by indigenous members support or alienate the cultivation of IK, and how the design of video-mediated communication technologies in particular can be grounded in indigenous ways of knowing. In Study 1, I conduct field interviews with 8 Kenyan transnationals in Melbourne, Australia about the practice of their indigenous culture while in the diaspora, and the role that current digital technologies play in supporting them to do so. Next in Study 2, I travel to Kenya to conduct a field study of 10 video-mediated sessions between rural elders and remotely-located youth. Based on findings from Study 1 and Study 2, I generate design themes that guide the design and evaluation of Study 3. Here, I investigate the use of the new medium of 360º video-conferencing to connect learners of indigenous knowledge in Australia, with elders in rural Kenya. Through findings from these studies, this thesis makes three contributions to technology research on indigenous knowledge. First, I propose a People-Place-Praxis lens as a productive conceptual framework in which to design for IK. The lens facilitates an understanding that aligns with indigenous ways of knowing; and motivates technology design in ways that support indigenous knowledge. Secondly, I demonstrate a way by which epicentres of indigenous knowledge can be extended through use of custom video-mediated sessions. This thesis makes explicit the need to design effective deployments of the technology, that is to design what I call ViMik sessions to effectively facilitate learners in the diaspora to cultivating IK from indigenous epicentres. Lastly, this thesis extends knowledge on how to enhance the experience of ViMik sessions for learners, over distance. The approach involves supporting an individual-yet-communal experience of the ViMik session, and mediating a sense of mobility for the learners at the remote indigenous location. This thesis concludes with opportunities for future research in this area.
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    Understanding the role of technology in supporting parent–child reunion
    KAZAKOS, KONSTANTINOS ( 2017)
    Parent–child reunion is one of the most prevalent yet less explored areas of family life. During reunions, parents and children can strengthen their bonds and reaffirm their ties. Earlier works on Human–Computer Interaction (HCI) have highlighted the value of digital technologies in supporting the parent–child relationship during physical separation or collocation, but little work has focused on parent–child reunion. This thesis investigates the role of digital technology in supporting a specific type of parent– child reunion: a reunion following separation for work-related reasons that has a pre-, upon and post-phase. This investigation was conducted with the participation of three types of families: academic, defence and mining. This thesis presents three studies that examined the role of digital technologies in supporting parent–child reunion. The first study focused on technological shortcomings of current technology use in parent–child reunion. This study found that current technologies lack certain elements of support during the anticipation to reunite in prereunion, the initial engagement upon reunion and the sharing of experiences in postreunion. The second study identified the interactional qualities of digital technologies that aim to support parent–child reunion that led to the design of Rendezvous—the first reunion-oriented artefact. The insights from this study emphasised the importance of stimulating co-creation in pre-reunion, motivating co-engagement upon reunion and inspiring co-sharing in post-reunion. The third study evaluated Rendezvous through its field deployment with the participation of academic and mining families. The findings demonstrated the significance of Rendezvous in supporting parent–child reunion by augmenting the anticipation to reunite in pre-reunion, heightening the initial engagement upon reunion and strengthening the experience of sharing in post-reunion. The knowledge generated by this thesis has three main contributions. First, it uncovers the necessity for digital technologies to support parent–child reunion by focusing on the anticipation in pre-reunion, the engagement upon reunion and the sharing of experiences in post-reunion. Second, the thesis calls attention to the merit of asynchronous technologies in supporting parent–child reunion. Finally, it expands the current knowledge by highlighting materiality and temporality as key design considerations for reunion-oriented technologies.
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    Designing digital memorials: commemorating the Black Saturday Bushfires
    Mori, Joji Cyrus ( 2015)
    Digital memorials are novel technologies used for commemorative purposes. There is a growing interest in their design amongst HCI researchers. Existing studies focus on commemorating deceased loved ones, where personal and familial remembrance is emphasised. However, there are fewer examples where digital memorials play a wider social and cultural role. Commemorating a war, terrorist attack, natural disaster or death of somebody of special significance such as a leader or even celebrity, are examples where commemoration extends beyond the personal and familial, and into broader social contexts. In these instances, it is likely that large numbers of people may wish to participate, from those with deeply personal reasons, to others with only a passing interest. This thesis examines the design of digital memorials for use in contexts where these diverse audiences come together in commemoration. This thesis presents three studies, in which commemoration following the Black Saturday bushfires was used as the setting for the research. The fires occurred in 2009 in Victoria, Australia. Asides the devastation caused to the natural environment, there were 173 fatalities and massive destruction caused to homes and other infrastructure. The first study was an exploratory study examining how people commemorated Black Saturday within the first two years after the fires. The findings extend current understandings of commemoration using technology by showing similarities between how people engage with physical and web-based memorials. The second study involved participants in fire-affected communities who were asked to generate design ideas for digital memorials to commemorate Black Saturday. The study contributed a novel craft-based approach to designing technology in the commemorative context. For the third study, a digital memorial was developed that included a website and internet-connected tablet computer app to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the fires. This technology was designed for both those within the fire-affected communities and those outside. The findings report on an evaluation of the experiences of those who engaged with the digital memorial. Selected findings from the three thesis studies are expressed as a set of five design considerations intended for future designers and researchers interested in digital memorials. These are: privacy, control and context collapse; considerations for symbolism and metaphoric representations; utilising physical locations; having sensitivity towards temporal patterns; and, designing for pace and asynchronicity.
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    Audience experience in domestic videogaming
    DOWNS, JOHN ( 2014)
    Videogames are frequently played socially, but not all participants actively play. Audience members observe gameplay, often participating and experiencing the game indirectly. While the existence of non-playing audience members has been previously acknowledged, there have been few attempts to understand what activities audience members engage in while watching videogames, or how their experience is affected by different aspects of the game and social situation. This thesis presents the first substantial body of empirical work on audience behaviour and experience in social videogaming sessions. Existing work was reviewed in a number of areas of literp.ature including the sociality of gameplay, the increasing role of physicality and physical actions in gameplay, and the role of audiences in HCI. Three studies were then conducted based on the research question: How do the sociality and physicality of videogaming sessions influence audience experience? An initial exploratory observational study (N = 6 families) examined the types of activities that audiences engage in while watching highly physical videogames in their homes. This study indicated that audience members can adopt a variety of ephemeral roles that provide them with opportunities to interact with one another, the players, and the game technology. Additionally, participants reported that the physicality of the gameplay heavily influenced their experience. The second study, a naturalistic experimental study (N = 134) consisted of a mixed-model analysis of the factors of game physicality and turn anticipation. Study 2 found that anticipation of a turn affects experience of both audience and player, and similarly found that highly physical games result in more positive audience experiences, although the relationship between physicality and experience is not straightforward. A third study, also an experiment (N = 24), examined the influence of game physicality and visual attention on audience experience within a mediated setting, and a cross-study comparison identified that there appears to be a strong interplay between social context and the experience of physicality. Overall, this thesis contributes an understanding of how sociality, physicality, and the interplay between the two can influence audience behaviour and experience. These findings can be used to inform the design of novel game and interactive experiences that incorporate physicality, turn anticipation, and opportunities for different types of participation in order to influence and enhance audience experience.
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    Designing sports: exertion games
    Mueller, Florian (Floyd) ( 2010)
    Exertion games are computer games that require intense physical effort from its users. Unlike traditional computer games, exertion games offer physical health benefits in addition to the social benefits derived from networked games. This thesis contributes an understanding of exertion games from an interaction design perspective to support researchers analysing and designers creating more engaging exertion games. Playing with other participants can increase engagement and hence facilitate the associated benefits. Computer technology can support such social play by expanding the range of possible participants through networking advances. However, there is a lack of understanding how technological design can facilitate the relationship between exertion and social play, especially in mediated environments. In response, this thesis establishes an understanding of how mediating technology can support social exertion play, in particular when players are in geographically distant locations. This understanding is forged through the design of three “sports over a distance” games. The experience of engaging with them was studied qualitatively to gain a rich understanding of how design facilitates social play in exertion games. The three games “Jogging over a Distance”, “Table Tennis for Three”, and “Remote Impact - Shadowboxing over a Distance” allow investigating different perspectives of mediated exertion play, since they represent three categories of richness on a social play continuum across both the virtual and the physical world. Studies of the experience of engaging with the three games resulted in an exertion framework that consists of six conceptual themes framed by four perspectives on the body and three on games. A fourth study demonstrated that the understanding derived from the investigation of the use and design of the games can support designers and researchers with the analysis of existing games and aid the creative process of designing new exertion games. This thesis provides the first understanding of how technology design facilitates social play in exertion games. In doing so, it expands our knowledge of how to design for the active body, broadening the view of the role of the body when interacting with computers. Offering an increased understanding of exertion games enables game designers to create more engaging games, hence providing players more reasons to exert their bodies, supporting them in profiting from the many benefits of exertion.