January 26th, 2005

Research thoughts.

For as long as i've been in graduate school, i've been telling myself and everyone else that my thesis research would be about improving online discussions. I think there are a lot of interesting things that could be done to create a more productive medium for engaging in debates and making decisions. Most people use mailing lists now because they're easy, but they don't work that well. In contrast to many of the previous research projects on computer-supported argumentation, which require users to fit their statements into formal structures using specialized tools, i'm interested in augmenting e-mail while letting people continue using their current software.

However, i've been doing a lot of other things for the past four years. Pretty much all of it has had nothing to do with computer-supported argumentation. I've dabbled in interaction devices and done a bunch of writing about usability and security. I've recently spent a lot of time working on a contribution to a book about usability and security, and when i showed my draft to a friend of mine, he figured it was obvious that i should be doing a thesis on this topic since i'd already done a lot of thinking about it.

I've had a lot of ideas floating around in both of these areas for a while. So i sat down and tried to map it out. The red blobs are research topics; the green blobs are applications; the purple blobs are mechanisms; and the blue blobs are studies or evaluations. The maps are incomplete, but here they are (argumentation first, security second).

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