Inaugural CSCW Lasting Impact Award

Inaugural CSCW Lasting Impact Award
>> Andy Wilson: Okay, so thank you all for coming. This is going to be a fun little event. This is
basically to celebrate Jonathan Grudin's winning of the first ever CSCW Lasting Impact Award.
>> [applause]
>> Andy Wilson: Yeah, that's right. So the conference is next weekend in Baltimore and he's
going to be giving this talk in front of the conference and so this is a bit of rehearsal. So the
paper is thus, Why CSCW applications fail: problems in the design and evaluation of
organizational interfaces. And we're going to hear about that, we're going to find out why it
was selected I think. And learn about some of the context and the history of this work. We're
going to do something a little bit different so we have a discussant, an ATIT style discussant
today. So we have a guest of honor, his name is Steve Poltrock. And he's coming in today. So
just a little about him and then I'm going to let Steve introduce Jonathan, in this very complex
proceedings today. So Steve is a Seattle native. Born and raised in Seattle. He got his bachelor
of science at Caltech, a Masters in math at UCLA and then got his PhD in experimental
psychology at UW. And in 1977 he became a professor at the University of Denver. I believe you
were there for a period of several years, is that right?
>> Steven Poltrock: Five years.
>> Andy Wilson: Five years. And then in 1982 you joined Bell Labs and I think that's where he
met Sue Dumais if I'm not mistaken. And then he met Jonathan when he was working at MCC in
Austin Texas. And then at this point he had sort of transformed himself into a kind of a
psychologist will been a little bit away from the engineering side of things. And then in 1989 he
headed back to Seattle and worked at Boeing and eventually became a technical fellow at
Boeing, and a long and distinguished career of 20 years at Boeing. And today he's retired, but
he's come out of retirement today to help us through this paper and provide some historical
context and commentary. And he will be giving a short presentation after Jonathan's, but first
you're going to introduce Jonathan. Thank you.
>> Steven Poltrock: Thank you. So this is an odd position to be in, introducing Jonathan to a
group who all probably know him quite well. But I met Jonathan in 1986 when he came to work
for MCC, a place I'd been working for, for about a year it at that point and we worked together
for a couple years. When he left to go to Europe I left to come to Boeing and I was delighted
when he returned to Seattle so that we could continue to work together although we were
working for different companies. This paper is one that he was working on while, when he
came to MCC and started working on it before even coming there and so I had an abundant
opportunity to talk to him about it beforehand and it really changed my life, this paper and
working with Jonathan. And so I'm going to be delighted to talk after he does about the impact
that I think this papers had. So with that, I'll turn it over the Jonathan to present this work.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Thank you Steve and thank you for coming to this practice talk. So as
Steve said, I'll talk for a while, he will then set some of the context and perhaps say something
about the impact that I would be too modest to say and if he doesn't say enough, I might
overcome my modesty and add a little bit. And then maybe at the end, I'll say a little bit about
how, what guidance it might give to, or what's happened to since 1988 and this particular
paper's impact that might be relevant today.
So this paper was unusual. It didn't have, it didn't build on the existing literature. There was no
system building, there was no usability study, there was no formal experiment. There was
actually no quantitative data. The qualitative data in it was not coded and the paper did not
build on theory but. So why was it written and what did it say? Okay so in 1983, I left a cognitive
psychology postdoc in England and returned to working as a computer programmer which had
been before graduate school. The reason being, I wanted to build things and felt like we could
build things quickly. At that time in 1983 there were single-user killer apps such as spreadsheets
and word processors. We decided to build killer apps that would support millions of small
groups out there. And I worked on several applications and features to support groups. We
solved the technical problems and they failed in the marketplace. So the question was why was
group support so hard to get right.
>> Audience: Wait, that's you?
>> Jonathan Grudin: Yeah, that's was me, sorry.
>> [laughter]
>> Jonathan Grudin: That was me at the time of this work, right. So it was a while it ago.
>> [inaudible]
>> Jonathan Grudin: That was my passport photo, that's the only photo I had from that period.
So in the summer, after several failures in the summer of 1986 I quit and actually spent the
summer going over our experiences of the last few years. And I wrote the first draft of this
paper and with my colleague Carrie Ehrlich, wrote a draft of another paper on fitting usability
the software development processes. Carrie Ehrlich was also a cogno psychologist. Her father
was a tech company executive and I learned about organizations from Carrie and it changed my
life, so I've put her picture up there. Then after the summer was over I needed to work again, I
took the job at MCC where I met Steve and when I arrived I heard about a conference that was
being held in the company auditorium. It was the first CSCW conference and I asked, what is
CSCW. I attended the conference and realized that my work belonged at this work and it
belonged at that conference. And so, I owe a thanks also to Irene Greif who just retired from
IBM for pulling together CSCW in 1986 or 1984 actually. Because her impact in bringing
together, and bringing together CSCW far outweighs the impact of anyone CSCW paper. If it
weren't for CSCW, I probably, this paper and I probably would note that the impact that I did.
So thank you Irene.
Okay so my research at MCC for the three years that we were there followed, actually followed
the path of the two summer papers. Understanding group support and development practices
for building interactive software. Steve and I got some informal training on ethnography and
social science from Ed Hutchens of UCSD and from Karen Holtzblatt who was then at digital and
was just then developing contextual inquiry. And of course Steve and I began this collaboration
that has been very productive partnership through the present day. He's more or less in
retirement, so there he is. You've seen him.
Okay, the CSCW 88 paper was directly responsible for all the jobs that I've had and visiting
professorships that I've had since then and so what I'll do now is cover the main points of the
paper and what it said and again why it was written.
Okay so as I had said before, I had spent years working on these unsuccessful group support
projects and so the questions were, why weren't automated meeting scheduling features used,
why weren't speech and natural language applications adopted. Why didn't distributed
expertise location and distributive project management applications thrive? And the paper
used examples to illustrate three factors committing to these problems. So point 1 is that if you
consider a project management application that requires individual contributors to update their
status, the manager is a direct beneficiary of using this application and everyone else has to do
more work and individual contributors who don't see any benefit in it often don't. And I
thought that this must've been written, at the time, I thought this must've been written about. I
talked to friends who worked elsewhere in other companies and in universities and they knew
of nothing about it. I also didn't find any relevant history when I went searching in the Boston
Public Library. And later I realized that mainframe computers, which are really the dominant
computers even at that point, had been so expensive that employees were mandated to use
applications that came along. But now, with many computers and workstations and PCs coming
along, individual contributors were not typically mandated to use productivity tools. And so
that was perhaps why it hadn't appeared in the literature before then. And this first point is still
relevant, so for example the example for a project dashboard can motivate and does motivate
internal wiki enterprise projects, but again encounters the same problems. Which is individual
contributors who might use a wiki for their own purposes, typically don't use it to update their
own status. And really don't want to use it for that purpose. So point two is that managers
usually decide what to build, what to buy and what to do research on. And what we found is
that managers who had very good intuition about individual productivity tools, regularly failed
to see the point one. They failed to see the problems or challenges that an application might
create for the other users of that application. They could see the benefits for themselves, so for
example audio features, really speech and audio really appeal to managers who used
dictaphone's and didn't know how to type. But of course for the recipients of an audio
message, find it a lot harder to browse and understand and reuse audio as opposed to typing.
And in my estimation it's based on some analysis. Hundreds of billions of dollars have actually
been squandered over time in cases such as these. And it's still happening. Point three here is
that you can learn from someone being brought into a lab and using a word processor, a singleuser application for an hour, but you can't learn much by bringing in a half a dozen people to a
lab and saying for the next hour you are an office workgroup. And this may seem, I see people
nodding and this may seem obvious now, but back then we were trained to do formal lab
experiments. I mean we were scientists, right? Even today you can find many published studies
in which three or four students are brought into a room and asked to be a workgroup for a
period of time and I think very little results have questionable usefulness in most cases. Other
than maybe as pointers to things to look at more broadly. So when I wrote this paper, the first
draft of it emphasized point two. Maybe because I was struggling in organizations with
managers who were making these decisions, but I talked to a friend, former colleague UCSD,
Don Gentner, advised me to switch the order of the first two items. And I did it, and he was
right. Here's a picture of Don. Academics who are starting to come into this field don't work in
strongly hierarchical organizations and they just don't resonate with management issues. And I
think the same is generally true in industry and research labs as well. So I think that was an
emphasis on the first of those three items turned out to be significant.
Now why did the paper have impact? I think Steve will talk a little bit more about the sequence,
but I think there are a few factors. One is, it really arrived at the right time. So in 1984, my
friends and I had been on the leading edge of work in this area, but in 1988 more people were
grappling with group support. Secondly, it was presented early in a large single track
conference, and several of the subsequent speech speakers referred back to it and my former
advisor Don Norman who was giving the closing keynote address also called out this paper. And
Don has been a fairly strong, has reminded people about this paper over the years, so I think he
gets a little of the credit for its ongoing impact.
And then the third factor here is that I built on that paper. I expanded the set of factors from 3
to 5 to 8 as I read about other researchers work that was relevant. In particular Lynne Markus
and Lucy Suchman's work. So they also get some of the responsibility for how this work
Now I'd like to summarize this and then turn it over to Steve after which I may have a few
words of counsel based on more recent experiences. So summarizing, in 1986 I really wanted to
get the word out fast so that developers could avoid beating their heads against the same wall
that I had been. In conferences back then like the CSCW 88 conferences were not archival. The
proceedings, there was no digital library, the proceedings were only accessed typically by
people who had actually attended the conference. Also conferences were attended by people
industry, not academics. There were very few academics than, almost none studying CSCW and
not even many studying human computer interaction. So my only goal in writing the paper was
to inform colleagues at Wang laboratories, at Digital Equipment Corporation, at IBM and
elsewhere. And because the proceedings were not archived, I assumed that the impact would
last for months, maybe a year. After which the people who I knew who were working on CSCW
would have absorbed the points and moved on. And it also, it didn't matter to me if my
observations were original or not. You know, I would've loved, I didn't find anything in the
literature, I would have loved to cite something relevant in the literature, but even if I had
found something in the literature, I would have wanted to get the word out because I had come
across it and neither had all of the other people I knew working in this area coming across it.
And the point was to say them these headaches. And they didn't actually plan to do anything
more with the paper after presenting it, but then a journal editor asked to reprint it. A book
editor asked me to write a chapter based on it and I eventually expanded it into a
communications ACM paper which is actually been cited more than the original conference
paper. Okay so as the slide indicates, thanks to Moore's law and related legislation, there are
several ways that we can contribute. We can invent the future by building unimagined devices,
we can improve existing processes and there's still wicked problems out there and you can have
a lasting impact if you tackle one of those. Last Friday, if you were here for Harry Strum's talk,
he said that people in MSR would benefit from spending a year or two in product development
groups. And in 1983 that was exactly what I did post PhD and it completely inspired and
completely shaped my future research. So this problem was motivated by a problem in practice
that did not come out of an idea for a new product or an unresolved question in the literature
or theory driven hypothesis. Okay, so with that I will turn this over to Steve.
>> Steven Poltrock: Okay, so it's a pleasure to be invited to talk about this work. I'm going to
start by sort of setting the context. What was it like in 1988, what was the state of the field in
1988, in both CHI and CSCW? In terms of personal computing, which would be the foundation
for collaborative technology, consider that in 77 Apple came out with the Apple II, the PC
emerged in 81. 88 was when Windows version 2 came out, so we're not even talking about PCs
with reasonable networking capabilities prior to that date. We're really at the infancy of the
capability. Networks were really primitive in those days, it was difficult to connect computers
together. He didn't have domain name services for example and in terms of conferences, the
first CHI conference was in 82, so we're only six years after the first CHI conference and the first
CSCW conference was in Austin Texas at MCC. So 88 was the second conference because they
were only every other year when this paper came out. And this paper came out in 88 but it was
a piece of work that he had been working on for the two years prior to that time. So it was
during this time when it came, he had an unusual opportunity at Wang, working on on this kind
of groupware system because others just weren't there yet to a very large extent. So these
were really some early observations. Now if we look at 1988, what were people thinking about,
what were the research topics? Well, one hot topic was, should menus be linear or should they
beat pie shaped? I mean these were the kind of things people were grappling with. How should
you transfer between one menu system and another? And my favorite is, the data model is the
heart of interface design. That's where we ought to be focusing when we're trying to make the
user interface work for people, instead of thinking of the user as being the heart of interface
design. These are a summary of some of the major papers at CHI 88. There was some also,
some CSCW papers. There are topics, there was a panel in two papers that address CSCW
issues. The first one there was a study of the coordinator which was a system developed by
Terry Winograd and his graduate student that for office work and it turned out to be hated by
many people and so it was an analysis of what was going wrong there. Then there was a panel
in fact that Jonathan organized to talk about the problems of user acceptance of groupware
and Irene Greif and others participated. And then there was a paper about a group support, a
meeting support system essentially for a facilitator. How a facilitator could use this software to
help run meetings. So that was sort of a state-of-the-art at the time this paper emerged. Now
we were both at MCC, and it was of research consortion that had been founded by the major
computer manufacturers in America in response to the threat of the Japanese fifth generation
computing effort. There was a fear that Japan would do for computing, what it had done
already for automobiles. Essentially taking over the business in the world of automobiles.
We've had a resurgence in automobiles, but people were afraid that computing would all move
to Japan. It didn't work out that way. I don't think that was because of our magnificent work,
but what we were expecting to do was to be kind of the group that was going to blaze the trail
and look five, 10 years ahead and determine what computing should be like in the United
States. And the topics that we were focused on were four groups. One was natural language
interfaces. One was intelligent UIMS's. One was 3-D graphic interfaces, and in fact I was leading
that group when Jonathan arrived at MCC, and the fourth was intelligent user assistance. So
these are topics that there's still some interest in some of these. They're still ongoing work in
these topics. So maybe we're more than 10 years ahead because it's been more than 25 years
since then. But Jonathan came in with some new ideas and the ideas were based around this
paper and a new group was formed called organizational interfaces. We had thought a lot
about a name for it and Computer Supported Cooperative Work did not come up, but
organizational interfaces and it's sort of theme was radically different. All these other groups
were focusing on building some kind of new technology that would move us beyond where we
had been. But the thesis, the premise that Jonathan came with was that the problem facing us
in this field is not really that much of a technology problem. People can develop it. If they know
what to do, they can develop it to a very large extent. The real big problem was organizational
and social. And organizational and social both in the development groups and in the potential
user of those groups. And in fact that's what, I became a true believer, I started working with
Jonathan on this. I went off and studied with him large development groups and I finally came
to Boeing. Why? Not because Boeing is a great developer of groupware technology, but for a
company like Boeing using collaboration technology is absolutely essential. And so I got to be
involved in trying to deal with this from a user community perspective.
So let's look at the impact of this paper. First, the digital library alone tells us that this paper has
been downloaded more than 6000 times. It's been cited within papers published in the digital
library itself, 266 times. And the average papers cited 14 times, so it's quite a big number.
Google scholar said it's been cited over a 1000 times, and it's the third most cited CSCW
conference paper in the digital library, according to Tom Finholt. Jonathan mentioned that he
expanded this work. He started off with these three basic problems and expanded it to a larger
set, and that was published in communication to the ACM, and that expanded paper has been
downloaded more than 6000 times and cited more than 1500 times. So quantitatively the
impact has been large on people's thinking.
This is a chart that I got from Tom Finholt that shows the number of citations by cumulative, by
year. Four of the papers presented in 1988, just the papers at 1988 CSCW, and the green line is
Jonathan's paper. So you can see it far outstrips all the others. This other paper here is by Bob
Kraut and the others are all much lower than that. And the key thing is really that their
cumulative citations kind of tapers off while these two papers really continue to grow at a rapid
rate. See can see the point here is that this work is still having an impact. Its impact has not
gone away after all these years. Now what the paper does is lay out three challenges with some
examples. And Jonathan's already gone over them. The first one is the disparity between who
does the work and who gets the benefit and he illustrated that challenge by talking about
online calendars and why they have not been successful. And talking about group decision
support systems. The systems used to support meetings, face-to-face meetings, and talking
about digitized voice applications. And in each of these cases talking about the problem of, you
know someone being asked to do some work that doesn't get benefit for and those people
declining to do that work and then the system fails. He also talked about the breakdown of
intuitive decision-making. Now he focused really on, oh when there were two principal
applications there. Project management applications where management could really see it
would be great if everyone use this, and they just couldn't get it ready to do it. And then natural
language interfaces, shared databases. Now I should say that it's not really the case that these
individual applications work only, essentially what he did is, consider all of these as problems
for each application, but I'm sort of categorizing them where the greatest emphasis was. And
the last one is, Jonathan discussed was the underestimated difficulty of evaluating these
applications. So with that said, I'm going to now look at these and say, what's been the impact
of each of these, because the reason this paper continues to be, have such a big impact is
because each of these defines a separate thread of research if you will, and people working in
those different threads keep coming back and citing this paper. And in fact every one of the
lines I had previously, there's all thread of research that's emerged about it.
So we take the first one, more work with no added benefit, I would say there have been more
citations about this than any other one thing. This is been a problem that people keep running
into. They do not find a solution for it, and so I just quoted three papers all published in just the
last two years that continue to talk about this. One saying the CSCW community is already
familiar with the idea that organizational culture and structure determine how or whether a
new technology may be adopted. And Grudin states that every additional effort to put into a
collaborative tool should have direct value for it's users. And important work by scholars like
Grudin describe the world in which application failures, activity systems and infrastructures
lived within larger systems of interaction that ran all the way up and down from fine-grained
details of design in practice to the exigencies of law, institutions and other mechanisms for the
large-scale organization of collective choice and power.
More work with no added benefit in addition, Hooper and Dix published a paper just last year
and had quite a long piece to say about this in which they gave Jonathan some substantial
credit here. Looking back before web science or even the web itself, Jonathan Grudin's classic
analysis of groupware includes issues of critical mass and what would now be called network
effects which would not look out of place in web science setting. Indeed it is not surprising that
Grudin's work was the inspiration for an analysis in the 90s and for the potential for CSCW
applications on the web.
Another one of the topics of the paper and expanded on it some length was online calendars,
and I'd say it's probably not been a paper published about online calendars since then that
hasn't cited this paper. And I list some of them here, I should note that some of these were
written by Jonathan and or Leysia Palen who worked with Jonathan, so no surprise that they
would cite themselves. But this last one for example, in 2012 there's continuing work by other
people in this area that are citing this paper.
The problem of the breakdown of intuitive decision-making. A recent paper, Sarah Keesler
among other authors wrote top management did not consider technology and technology
integration to be an essential solution to organizational issues, citing this paper. So
management continues to be a big problem here with not getting what's needed to get
technology to be successfully adopted. And there have been a number of papers that have
essentially said, well let's see how are we going to solve this problem. And so they propose
something like using consultants, mediators, frameworks and I list three papers here that took
that problem, those approaches. I note that this problem is not really limited the management.
This is a problem of there being a difficulty with intuitions about how collaboration is going to
work. And in the days when Jonathan wrote this paper, management was going to decide what
programs got written and how they were structured what they did, but now today I'm sure at
Microsoft, a lot of these decisions are being made by developers. And so they are also able to
have bad intuitions. Essentially they're going to intuit what seems right for them. Now my own
personal experience, having worked for years with NetMeeting coming from Microsoft, the
NetMeeting kept getting thrown around from one group of developers to the next, each one of
which would think, well gee, I would like to use it for this purpose. And we at Boeing were
saying, please think about the way we're trying to use it without being able to get that message
through very effectively.
And the final big problem was the difficulty in studying group behavior in this too of course is an
ongoing problem. There haven't been so many papers in just the last couple of years, but you
can see here a long list of different proposals about using cognitive walk-through, usability
inspections, all sorts of different ways of trying to tackle this problem. So the papers had a
profound effect in many different ways. One consequence I think is that this paper is really at
the heart of what CSCW is about, and one way of seeing that is a paper titled Six degrees of
Jonathan Grudin, or at least that was part of its title that was published at, or presented at
CSCW in 2004 if I remember correctly. And it included a social network analysis of all the
publications in 1982 through 2003. And in that analysis, the most central researcher, the most
central author in the entire field was Jonathan Grudin. I think an acknowledgment of this
contribution. And that's it for me Jonathan, back to you.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Okay well thank you. I don't think I have to add anything there. I will say
just a couple points. Eric Horbitz suggested I give this presentation here and say what doesn't
no longer apply from the paper, and a few things I was reminded of there. One is, a number of
the examples, the last point, the third point about groupware being hard for group support
systems being hard to evaluate. As Steve said, that's pretty widely seen now. And practically
everything has features to support social activity. Some of the examples aren't quite so
relevant. And one interest ring one is the meeting scheduler feature, automatic meeting
scheduling which wasn't used in the 80s and I said probably wouldn't be because individual
contributors weren't mandated to use it. And then before I worked here, I came here and give a
talk at Microsoft in the early 90s and discovered that meeting scheduling was being used. And I
then went down and gave a talk at Sun Microsystems and discovered the same thing. So it was
a little embarrassing because I had said it probably wasn't going to happen, but then Leysia
then, so then the question was why, what happened. And because there was two possibilities.
One was people had published papers saying that the way you'd get this through was by
mandating that individual contributors keep their calendars online, which is why it wasn't used
before. Individual contributors typically preferred paper calendars. They didn't have that many
meetings. And the other possibility was that you actually built in features that individuals liked
into calendars and get them to use. So Leysia Palen, my graduate student ended up turning
that, who was doing an internship here when I visited on different topics. She ended up making
that her PhD work and what we did find was that in fact they had built-in features that
individual contributors loved. And the feature, the feature that was overwhelmingly popular to
individual computers was the meeting reminder. That didn't exist before, and individuals who
didn't have many meetings would work through, past the meeting and not know what had
happened. And once that came in, in these new calendar systems, individual contributor
started to keep their calendars online for that. Yeah.
>> Audience: So the tipping point in terms of like people having computers at their own desk
and being on all the time, or had that already been the case before then?
>> Jonathan Grudin: Well I think at Microsoft and Sun, it had probably already been the case
before that, so. And it really was, and at Boeing too where we looked at it with Steve. So it was
really, it was interesting. But as far as the basic CSCW work, that wrapped up, not too long
before I came to Microsoft. And when I came here I didn't really change my basic approach. I'd
like to say a little bit about how that works today, both maybe here but also in the larger CHI
CSCW community. So while I was here I published a couple dozen papers with my managers
and [indiscernible], but meanwhile unanticipated problems and environment surfaced that
seemed interesting. And I'll say Microsoft research has just been terrific and given me the
freedom to go out and explore those, pursue those problems and figure out what was going on
there. So if citation is a measure of impact, it seems to be the main we've got , then my greatest
success after the CSCW papers was my work here on personas design that I did with John Pruitt
who was then in the Windows group. And that's approaching 1000 citations out there. I didn't
invent personas, but I worked with John it. And in my opinion it was central to the second issue
that I have in 1986 which was what design methods work for developing interactive commercial
software. After that my next most cited MSR work was a paper on multiple monitors, and that
completely was a set of observations. Was based on the fact that when I got here, and got
multiple monitors I was very frustrated with the fact that we didn't design for multi-mon. So it
was not even part of the design consideration as to how this stuff would work if you had two
monitors. And so a lot of them exploited opportunities there. Similarly problems I encountered
in reviewing for conferences and journals lead to papers that I wrote in analyzing where these
problems arose in computer science. Lead to papers in communications to ACM and elsewhere
as well as some experiments with new approaches there. My two favorite completed Microsoft
projects while I've been here, also originated in workplace problems. One was the threat, some
of you who have been around for a while may remember, or maybe do not remember that
there was a threat of forced email deletion on employees that came out here. I worked on that
for a while with Sue Dumais. And the second one was the monocia expertise recruitment,
serious game that I worked on that was inspired by requests that we got from senior Microsoft
consultants. And so the good news is that Microsoft let me do this stuff. Now, however
Microsoft is really about inventing the future, it's not really about solving problems in
enterprise behavior. And so I think that to a large degree, this kind of work that's based on
finding problems that have been out there for a while and addressing it is not really appreciated
that much here. And it's not really welcomed in CHI and CSCW anymore. CHI and CSCW have
moved from practice oriented, from being practice oriented conference to a more academic
model. Many reviewers out there are now obsessed with building on the existing literature and
creating theory or informing theory. And so, I'd say that a lot of reviewers are inclined now to
throw out the baby if the bathwater temperature isn't to their liking. So a lot of this work has
ended up that I've been doing since, has been ended up being published elsewhere. And so I
think my concluding point there, and I'd be interested in your views on it, but I think you could
if you want to have an impact, you could help solve, you could invent the future. And you could
help solve real problems out there, but if you do then I think you should be prepared to find a
new sparkling communication channel to communicate to the people who can use what you
discover, which is what I had to do in 1988. So, thank you.
>> [applause]
>> Jonathan Grudin: Any questions, or comments, or disagreements?
>> Audience: It's funny that you were talking about, earlier there was one line about getting
into the enterprise basically and the difficulties of people actually going in context. One of the
things that I am experiencing at this moment, right now with my email is trying to get access
enterprising to do this research. Just throwing it back to you, perhaps the rest of the group
going out into enterprises, what do you see is the best way to do that today? To get in context
real data from actual people doing actual productivity work.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Well, okay so we should talk about it, but a lot of our partners out there,
and our major customers actually. So maybe your specific situation may be an issue here, but a
lot of our partners and customers actually do, are pretty willing, to let us come in. Depends a
little on the sensitivity to them of what you're studying. But I will say it's the case, that can be a
little easier sometimes from academia because when I was down at UC Irvine before I came up
here, I came to Microsoft and did research and at Sun Microsystems at the same time, on the
same issue because we didn't have some of those. So it really does, I think it depends a good
bit, but even here I worked with Steve at Boeing. So Boeing was a place that, I guess it helps of
course if you've got your closest collaborator working there.
>> Audience: At least at Boeing, there was a Microsoft person sort of full-time at Boeing who
could facilitate setting up that kind of an arrangement. I imagine that still the case.
>> Audience: It is, but I think we have a bit of a closing. One of the things that I've been hearing
a lot, I mean it's honestly an ongoing problem. I am an ethnographer so, that kind of work, and
this is not the first time we've had this problem. But there's almost a paranoia, proprietary
secret and then do the lawyers get involved, and then it all goes downhill from there.
>> Audience: Uh huh. This can happen.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Yeah, and the legal side is sort of ramped up, hoping it is, it's true.
>> Audience: So, can I make a suggestion? One of the things I've found. I ran the [indiscernible]
program when we allowed customers to come in and put bugs to our clean array database,
back then. And one of the things that we learned by working with them was exactly what you
said, there has to be something in it for them. If it's about being able to guarantee that the
system will work for their organization and their type of data, that was the way we managed to
get them to share their data with this. So we could do the pad analysis we needed to do.
>> Audience: And then from, so I'm the privacy manager for MSR, and most organizations now
have some kind of privacy structure. But we are not legal, but we are friends with legal. And so
one of my key roles here is to facilitate getting data from other product groups and also outside
organizations. And so I work with other privacy people to convince them that there is a
business case, you know what's in it for those and for us. Here are the parameters, the data,
here's how we're going to protect it, here seller going to make sure that we are just not
throwing it all around with people they just steal. And so it might be a matter of making
connections with whatever those people are, whether they are within the groups themselves or
in the regulatory space, but working with them to help you with negotiations.
>> Jonathan Grudin: I think first this one quick comment which is that this isn't a typical
organization, but I currently doing work with schools, K-12 schools and I'm not having, and I
have great access there all. I will say that at the iPad schools, it's a little slower getting into
those than it is the tablet PC schools, but even those you can get into.
>> Steven Poltrock: If I could just comment on this from some long time spent at Boeing trying
to make just the same things happen. They can break down for a number of reasons. And one
can be issues of sensitivity or privacy. Another one can be just a manager who's not willing to
let employees spend any time with you because they feel too much under pressure. And we
had that experience. Pamela Heinz of Stanford was about to come up and do this great study on
disseminated seven and disseminated seven management just freaked out because they, I
mean they had been saying yes, yes, yes, yes and then they realize how far behind schedule
they were going to be and they just got worried about that. And it's a shame because they had
exactly the kind of problems we were anticipating they would have.
>> [laughter]
>> Audience: You mentioned early, I don't with all these circles, but you mentioned earlier it
was lack of metrics. And has that changed except for complaints? Is there any metric that
transcends enterprises, privacy issues, security that you can evaluate or devaluate
>> Jonathan Grudin: So I think that metrics, that's perhaps a whole other talk, but in the CSCW
social media area, the whole metrics is very difficult because a lot of the benefits when you get
into supporting large group are extremely hard to measure. I mean, at Boeing they were
constantly trying to determine even what seems like fairly metrics, but fairly simple things like
how will video conferencing affect travel, you know. And it just turned out, and even at Boeing
they could even do studies where you had distributor groups around the Puget Sound area and
how if you set up videoconferencing between you know Everett and Renton, you would think
that you could actually start to get strong metrics in this area and they couldn't. You know it
was just extremely difficult. So that's a big topic and we now have a lot more data. You know
there's a lot more data can be collected as more and more activity gets online.
>> Audience: [indiscernible]
>> Jonathan Grudin: Well, I mean you have to see patterns. I mean you go out there and you
look at a number of these and you start to see patterns and there are logical, you know there
are sort of logical patterns that seem to explain it, but yeah ultimately it's correlational, you
know. It's very hard, it is hard to...
>> Steven Poltrock: Simply looking at metrics when it's optional is a tremendous tool. You
know, who decides to use the technology and when is just a tremendously insightful tool.
>> Jonathan Grudin: And it's not just complaints, it's also the successes. You know I was sort of
looking at like when calendar, you know when calendars did start to be used it was, I didn't
know whether it would turn out that it was manage, you know that it was management
mandate that people; I mean I kind of suspected that Microsoft managers probably weren't
requiring it, but I wasn't at Microsoft at the time and didn't know. So you look at both the
successes and the lack of update. Paul.
>> Audience: Yeah, I love your ending comments that, I found it odd though too that these
papers that we recognize as the fundamental ones of our field, you know that we recognize,
they have this lasting impact that would not get in today. For the metrics that we use. And I
think this has become a fairly universal problem among at lot of conferences. My suspicion has
always been that this is intimately related to the expansion of publication requirements on
academics. So could you say a few words about that? Where do you think we're going, what
can we do about this in the future that, you know other than starting new conferences again
from scratch.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Yeah, well yes I do have opinions on this that are not necessarily correct or
widely shared, but I think it is the case that academics, the conferences have become extremely
academic. And even the industry tracks are often reviewed by academics. Industry design, you
know attracts and other things at the conferences. So I think that that's part of the issue and
then my own sort of red flag in this is that I think they have very high rejection rates. Before
practitioners really wanted, who had a message that they wanted to get out there. When their
rejection rates are so high, they could get the men because the conferences were more open in
the early days and so you could get these things in. And they wanted to come and be heard and
it's just very difficult now. And here the big change in CHI was, there were three years in the
mid-2000's where the acceptance rate went down to 15 and 16%. And up until then a lot of
product teams, a lot of user UX people in Microsoft used to submit papers and papers at CHI,
and they just all, all the practitioner papers got leveled out and a lot of the user researchers
switch to UPA which then started to have a peer reviewed paper track, because to pick up these
papers that didn't make it into the ASIM comp. So it's a very complex issue and one that I would
be more than happy to talk about again.
>> Audience: Yeah, I have some questions. You said you know on using other outlets, I was
wondering what those were. And another question was, you know I sort of share this concern
that people are so preoccupied with getting published that they are chasing the sexy new
things, new technologies, you know the first one to write a paper about whatever we're going
to get cited more often, but they're ignoring like what are some of the core problems that we
still have. You know, because it's not a sexy topic to write about.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Right.
>> Audience: And what do you think are some of those core problems that we still have that
are not really been addressed because people are too busy chasing you know, too busy chasing
the sexy stuff.
>> Jonathan Grudin: So, there were a lot of questions there. As far as the new outlets go, I tend
to look to you and others to tell me what new outlets although some of those are focused on
the sexier issues. So I fixated on that particular.
>> Audience: Well what are the core problems that you believe that warrant more attention
but don't get it because people are chasing the sexy stuff.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Well, , I mean I do have my list, but I think there are probably lots of
problems out there that you could draw in. I think that from my perspective because I've had
an enterprise focus, I think that one of the big changes, you know as Steve Ballmer was fond of
saying, enterprise is 70% of Microsoft's sales and revenue, and 90% of it's profit and I think that
in the last few years we've really had a big shift towards a consumer focus, whether it's
competing with Apple and Google. And I think that's good and we've got to compete with them
but I think we've left, there are lots of enterprise. They are our major customers and there are
lots of issues in the enterprise space. Enterprise networking you know, is yammer, I mean what,
you know is social networking and enterprise, how do you make that work. I don't think that
we've quite figured that out, so I think that, and yet we've been trying for a long time, so I think
that there are. So my list is a little bit more biased towards the enterprise side. K-12 though, I
can also study now. I could tell you what some of the issues are in K-12, so. Happy to take that
off-line, but I would just challenge you to look around at the problems that you run into and the
problems that the people you talk with as users or here at colleagues. I think there's not a
shortage of them. Andrew.
>> Audience: So generally it's kind of hard to write a paper or get a paper accepted where it's
fairly negative on some project you try to do but failed at. Because usually the response is, well
you guys are just idiots, you should have done it this way.
>> Jonathan Grudin: You're right. I've got those, you are idiots. Before you get your point, I just
say because of blind, the wonders of blind reviewing, I have gotten multiple reviewers who
have said, if you just read the work of Grudin, you would have known not to try this in the first
>> [laughter]
>> Jonathan Grudin: So anyway, as you were saying.
>> Audience: That's pretty awesome because actually I wanted to ask the inverse which is, who
in your sense of that paper like, who is the most resistant to your lesson and like what
arguments were they using against it, against believing it? If anyone, like did you just come up
and say well, the calendaring system doesn't work, everyone should just stop doing this forever
and shut down that line of research, or were people still trying to say, well you know.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Well happily not, in the case because they made it work. I think I tried to
be, I mean I think even if you look at the paper I did say in it for that example, that you have to
find ways to make it work for individuals, for all the group members. You know, I think that was
the key point and it just, I just didn't personally didn't see how to do that. And I'd say that, you
know one form of resistance to this work, pretty strong, very strong form in the early days was
from a lot of the CHI people who felt that formal experiments were the only way to go , at
reduction of science was only way to go and I probably should name names, but a very senior
professor at Maryland was just outspoken on this issue. That this was completely the wrong
way to go, and he still has I view and if you look at his user interface design books, you won't
see this cited on the section on CSCW, so there was some resistance in some areas.
>> Audience: [indiscernible]
>> Jonathan Grudin: That's right, yeah that's right. And Mary.
>> Audience: Playing the devils advocate, and this wasn't the main part of your dissertation,
but this point that you have about, you know that CHI and CSCW are only pushing, work on
inventing the future and on sexy new things.
>> Jonathan Grudin: I never used the word sexy.
>> [laughter]
>> Audience: Someone used the word sexy.
>> Jonathan Grudin: I said it was resistant to the type of work that I submit. And as a data
point, I'll just say that I've had one in my last 16 papers submitted to CSCW or CHI that got in.
Or maybe it was two.
>> Audience: Well maybe this is a different situation I had, I mean I feel like I go to CHI and I
see papers on still, I'm like, Fitt's Law. And I think, you know that is like the antithesis of sexy. I
mean Fitt's Law is like the opposite of [indiscernible], exactly it's like taking things that already
exist and optimizing them a tiny bit more. So I'm just not sure that I agree with your thesis that
CHI doesn't have.
>> Jonathan Grudin: I wasn't, no I completely agree, I completely agree with you. A classic way
to get a paper into CHI, and there are people out there that do this rigorously is to take some
paper that was published 10 years ago that say compared two different approaches and say
that now we've got two orders of magnitude faster systems, we can go and we can come up
with something that will outperform those two and get it published. And you've got the
literature review, you've got it justified because there's past CHI papers on it. You just got this
incremental improvement on, you know whether it's a Fitt's Law type of situation or not, and
you can get it in. And you go and ask, you know I have asked after hearing papers like that, I've
asked the person. You do a very rigorous experiment, you do a very rigorous analysis and you
know, after one of them I said okay well I kind of see that this is an improvement but the field
has sort of moved on. And we've kind of standardize on an approach here. You know, it's like a
better form of ASCI, so I just don't see how we ever moved to actually getting that used. And
the person says, I don't know. And I said, well what's the next step in this line of research? And
the person said, there is no next step. We just thought that we could do this CHI paper, and you
know I have to get back to finishing my PhD dissertation on something completely different.
>> Audience: I think that's different than what you were saying because you were saying that
only work about inventing new paradigms of computing is...
>> Jonathan Grudin: No, also improving...
>> Audience: You said about the kind of impact, about whether it's a small incremental impact
or very, more large and...
>> Jonathan Grudin: No, I was to say that what I think is hard to get in are problems that are
really based on practice, you know. And a better form of Fitt's Law didn't originate very directly
>> Audience: For example I mean I feel that every paper I seen out of IBM for the past decade
has been about problems with practice and enterprise software deployed within IBM. I mean
that's sort of all the people that ...
>> Jonathan Grudin: No, I don't buy it. That's not my assessment of the IBM work and we can
take that off line. I mean I think...
>> Audience: I just think that if you made a comment like that in your position at CSCW, you
should be prepared that people might push back on it.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Good, good, okay. I will definitely make that comment.
>> [laughter]
>> Jonathan Grudin: Excuse me, but I will phrase it. Thank you Mary. I will phrase it in a slightly
more, hopefully slightly more clear, clear form. So that if they want to, I mean I could be wrong,
>> Audience: So back on the paper for a second. You guys talk a little bit about how
management or developers that you knew on settled it don't really understand or seem to not
be paying attention about how their...
>> Steven Poltrock: No, they have bad intuitions.
>> Audience: Bad intuitions and so, and just watching the decision-makers in this company
perceive, I don't see them reading academic papers. And so I'm wondering if you could
comment on whether or not you think writing an academic paper is the right way to address
these problems.
>> Steven Poltrock: Well we certainly made other efforts, the two of us by giving tutorials and
other things to try to get this message out. In fact I was thinking about that in relation to this
other issue, because in the early days of CHI, it was clearly aimed at both academicians and
practitioners. There were a lot of practitioners, and they were there to learn what to do and
they would take tutorials.
>> Audience: So, what is it now though coming how do you get these results from the
>> Steven Poltrock: I don't know.
>> Audience: [indiscernible] and it does enter into the mainstream, you know like textbooks in
schools. And you're like, if you are learning.
>> Steven Poltrock: Takes a while.
>> Audience: CSCW in school, then they enter the workforce.
>> Steven Poltrock: It is an issue, I mean I saw this occur over and over again and then we
ended up discussing it quite a bit. At Boeing where they would put in place a workflow
management system or something that required people doing a fast, a whole new job, like two
jobs instead of one. And the management thought, well this is great, we'll know exactly where
everything is at every moment and you know, it's complete failure. Years of development time
out the window because nobody would ever use it.
>> Jonathan Grudin: So this may or may not, I don't know if I recommend this, and I don't know
if it would still be true but one way that I, that this paper did get to management in some
places, get communicated to management was that there were one or two major consultants
out there. Some of the meeting consultants had actually came across this and would tell it to
management. So I got hired as a consultant a couple times because there are few people out
there, and Don Norman can actually also be helpful in that respect. Some consultants were
definitely reading the papers, whether they still are not I don't know.
>> Audience: Did management like hearing you telling they are wrong?
>> Jonathan Grudin: Telling them, I can be a little more tactful. I mean I'll insult CSCW, but I
won't necessarily insult.
>> Audience: They probably don't read the papers. You probably presented a very logical and
doable method.
>> Jonathan Grudin: I think I can, so the fact is that the management issue which I thought was,
which I lead with originally, I thought was the most important, and I still really think it's the
most significant because managers are still important. I wrote another paper that just really
unpacks that that I thought was as strong as the CSCW 88 paper, and it did not, it got rejected
by CHI and it got rejected by CSCW. And I think that there is a way that you could, but I think
that it could be and eventually got published at Hicks, but I think that it hasn't piled up
thousands and hundreds of thousands of citations, but I do think that there are ways to explain
that, that managers. But how to get an audience for them is potentially a different issue. And
it's even gotten worse in some respects now, because now managers actually use technologies,
which they didn't back in the 80s. You know they were not hands-on users. Now they are, so in
some sense they have equally or even maybe more confidence in their intuitions. But what's
really the case is that they use completely differently. And that's really what I found quite a bit
in the research done here. If you look at the way managers and executives and individual
contributors use technology, the feature, and we saw this at Boeing too. The features that one
of those groups loves, another group will hate and vice versa. So there really are, because of
the way they work, the pattern of their day, the structure of the activities is different. So I think
it is, it's still a really big problem, but I don't know the answer to how you communicate it to
managers. I don't know if even anybody around here has read the paper that analyzes that.
>> Audience: One of my concerns is that a lot of people just don't take the time to read and it's
like people, management especially, they tend to spend 90% of their time in Outlook.
>> Audience: Well, they are reading in Outlook. They are.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Send them an email message.
>> Audience: They're not, not reading. They're reading differently.
>> Audience: Okay, it's all, like a paragraph.
>> Audience: Yeah, and that's sad. If we're concerned people are not reading, we should be
clear what we're concerned about. That we're concerned about reading full-length papers. So,
for the fact that they are spending 90% of their time in Outlook reading, it represents an
opportunity. Do the paper, but recognize there's an opportunity to inject this insight into
Outlook for lack of a better term. Because actually that is what most the people I reading, here.
>> Audience: And I wonder if this research though, maybe we can be, maybe this is what you're
getting to and you could be a bit more proactive about it. Because it seems like, you know we
have people like Jonathan, here in the company as an amazing resource, and we should be
learning a lot and you know, the people, the execs do come to us and ask about things. But I
think it's because people don't think of having intuitions for machine learning if they're not
familiar with the field. Whereas everyone has opinions, but they think well we're...
>> Jonathan Grudin: Yeah, you're right.
>> Audience: Especially if manager start using software, and I wonder if we could construct like
a review board of sorts. You know from [indiscernible] has some of the best and most
experienced people who could help, you know product groups as they are doing their findings.
Kind of like printing...
>> Audience: Maybe a larger issue is just having those, continuing you know on management
but, go with that. The idea that management could have some kind of understanding of what
their reports are actually doing.
>> Audience: Aren't you a manager?
>> Audience: Yeah well.
>> [laughter]
>> [indiscernible, talking over each other]
>> Audience: Directly trying to get at like you know, here's somebody the company who's a
decision-maker who's going to say that we're going to put out this next version of this
groupware and it's going to work like X. You know, and they are making the call. Do they have
the opportunity to review the kind of insights that are coming from this work, and then here's
the thing, this might never even have been aware of it. And I feel like that's something that
maybe we could.
>> Audience: Yeah, it's just interesting listening to this discussion because, you know I've been
working in the app world, and one of the things you see around that job with these much
smaller scope things, pointing at [indiscernible], have analytics everywhere. And incredibly
detailed telemetry. And I'm listening to this conversation and just thinking, wow wouldn't it be
cool if it was possible for us to build in the appropriate metric measurements into those
systems. So we wouldn't be guessing and we can actually start refining instead of these reports
and these metrics and help people understand what is the philosophy of the experience. Am I
getting more throughput through my system or less? And people, is there more common of
load on people than there was previously. It would be fascinating to figure out how do you do
>> Jonathan Grudin: I think you want to do it talking to Sam, finding a ethnographers. I think
going back and forth between the quantitative and then some qualitative understanding for
what it means at a higher level.
>> Audience: Just FYI on that, that is happening to a great extent in office. But the ability to
have accurate telemetry, the system is not designed for telemetry. The system is designed for,
you know CPU load, right. So the data that are flowing through, naturally flowing through, are
not research indicators. They're not designed as such. So it's a.
>> Audience: So the reason why I'm interested is, I'm part of the new OSD, dead sciences group
where our job is to try and figure out how do we each try to understand, to be able to apply
every feature that we do rollup. So that's the reason why I'm kind of thinking from that
>> Jonathan Grudin: So the devil's advocate has another.
>> Audience: In terms of impact, was asking how much improvement [indiscernible] has today.
Like when Steve presented about your work, he was actually showing the CSCM article which
actually had more impact in some sense.
>> [indiscernible, talking over each other]
>> Audience: But in the CSW article, arguably because it was less of an academic paper format
and more of a magazine, for a slightly more general audience. And so by the same argument, I
guess I'm curious you know to have the most impact that you are advising young students at
CSW. Should they write 16 CSW papers and get one, or should is write a blog that has a short
version of their [indiscernible]. You do that and why or why not. Like why do you continue to
submit CSCW articles for rejection rather than just writing a blog?
>> Jonathan Grudin: Yeah, a great question. I hate it when students ask that question.
>> [laughter]
>> Audience: That's a good point.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Oh yeah, it's definitely a discussion that needs to be had.
>> Audience: The article that you had written within Microsoft research, it seems that kind of
activity is rewarded, and the blog is read. I mean take Dana Floyd's work for example. She in
part publishes conference papers, but she writes a blog it's very popular and I think that, that
the powers that be recognize that as a legitimate more of an impact. So I guess maybe we
should all be switching to that model, or if you have a big enough.
>> Jonathan Grudin: I don't think there's room for too many Dana's though, so.
>> Audience: Maybe we should all be studying [indiscernible].
>> Jonathan Grudin: Yeah, no I think it would be great to have a discussion about this.
>> Audience: Or books, I mean in book don't count at all for academicians. You know they
don't add any points for them.
>> Jonathan Grudin: Yeah even droll articles in our field are pretty.
>> Andy Wilson: Well if there are no more questions, let's first of all give a round of thanks to
>> [applause]