Blog of FUSE Labs at Microsoft Research

Aug 14

Updates to Socl

Today the team is refreshing Socl with some much asked for capabilities.

Happy Making!

The Socl Team and Microsoft Research Fuse Labs

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Aug 11

Data-driven Cartoons for NYC Neighborhoods

Last week we released a new version of HereHere NYC Weekly NYC cartoons & lightweight tools for understanding neighborhood concerns to provoke civic participation. Based on user feedback from our earlier prototype (spring 2014) we’ve made massive changes. HereHere now provides:

We’re hoping to get as many New Yorkers using it as possible as we’re doing a month long study. New Yorkers please check it out!



Aug 10

[Talk] The Visual Language of Comics - 8/14

Drawings and sequential images are an integral part of human expression dating back at least as far as cave paintings, and in contemporary society appear most prominently in comics. Just how is it that our brains understand this deeply rooted expressive system? Neil will present a provocative theory: that the structure and cognition of drawings and sequential images is similar to language.


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Jul 21

Creating Data-driven Comics

“What are you working on this summer?”

“Data-driven comics.”

Usually, at this point, the person I’m talking to puts a huge grin on their face and exclaims how awesomethat sounds, and I get to bask in the satisfaction of having found a really catchy way of summing up my internship project at FUSE Labs.

Then, they think for a moment and ask the inevitable question: “So what does that mean?” That would be the point where I’d admit that I actually had no idea but doesn’t it sound cool?

However, a couple weeks into the internship and several exploratory prototypes later, I’d like to share some of the thoughts we have on how data and comics can work together to help people make sense of what is going on around them. 


Comics are often used to tell stories about how events were perceived.
Maus by Art Spiegelman; Stop Paying Attention by Lucy Knisley; Johnny Wander by Yuko Ota and Ananth Panagariya; Footnotes in Gaza by Joe Sacco.

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Jul 10

[PUBLIC EVENT] 9 Awesome Projects that Aim to Make Sense of a Billion Sensors - July 15

In a world with a billion sensors, how will we make sense of it all?  Come see project presentations from teams at the top design schools from around the world responding to this challenge at the Design Expo part of the Microsoft Faculty Summit.    

Mine is by Omer Shapira, Carl Jamilkowski, Donna Miller Watts and Michael Rothman at NYU’s ITP program, advised by Clay Shirky, Robert Dietz, and Jenny Rodenhouse.

The projects are:

The design critics  this year are Bill Buxton (Microsoft Research), Liz Gerber (Northwestern), and Tom Igoe (New York University).  To give you a sense of what happened last year, check out this PBS report.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 15, 10:15AM - 12:45PM

WHERE: Microsoft Conference Center, Building 33, Kodiak Room

16070 N.E. 36th Way REDMOND, WA 98052

HOW: Contact to be added to the guest list. Microsoft employees, and attendees to the Faculty Summit can attend without prior approval.

Jun 30

Welcoming FUSE East (NYC) Interns 2014

As internship season progresses, we are thrilled to welcome 2 interns to FUSE Labs in NYC, both Juergen Brandstetter and Noah Liebman. We’re already having a blast working together!

Juergen Brandstetter @BrandiATMuhkuh is doing his PhD in Human Robot Interaction at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Juergen earned a Masters in Human Computer Interaction at the Institute of Technology in Vienna. His research interest is in persuasive robotics with a focus on linguistic cues. Besides his PhD, he’s also a design thinking tutor and prototyper.

This summer he’ll be focusing on persuasive behavior techniques for social robots to influence the performance of human routines in the workspace. While the amount of industrial and service robots increased dramatically over the last couple of years, the paradigm of social robots is still a largely unexplored field. Social robots, in comparison to the other two types of robots (industrial, service) are created for direct contact with humans and work on a more emotional rather than technical level. Most research with social robots is done in isolated lab environments. Jürgen will apply social robotics in a real environment to test and study persuasive techniques aimed at helping employees improve their work-life balance in a socially acceptable way.

Noah Liebman  @Noleli is a PhD student in both Computer Science and Communication Studies at Northwestern University. He is excited by how the design of technological artifacts affects people’s social behavior when interacting with technology and each other. His work spans areas as diverse as emoticon use in instant messaging and the design and prototyping of a haptic system to help people coordinate.

Whether in their personal lives or at work, people are always striving to improve. This summer he’s focusing on designing persuasive technology to help people stay “on track”. This project will draw on the combined behavior of crowds to help people realize what is feasible and what they are capable of achieving.

Jun 27

Introducing Joy Kim, data-driven comics research intern

I have the pleasure to introduce Joy Kim, a new member of the FUSE intern family. She is a PhD student at Stanford HCI where she works on social computing and creativity. One of her recent projects is Ensemble, a platform for writing collaborative stories.

At FUSE, we will be working on a project focused on data-driven comics. Her first assignment was to introduce herself through a comic, which, as you can see, she’s quite good at! 


If you like data, or comics, or both, come back to read more about her work in a few weeks.

Jun 19

Announcing the Peer Economy research projects receiving the FUSE Labs Award

We are really excited to announce the projects receiving the FUSE Labs Research Award this year. We were impressed by the quality and volume of applications (almost a hundred applicants!). 

It is clear there is a lot of interest in this area, so we will be looking for more ways to foster research and collaboration in this space. We will be having a session on this topic at the Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, for those of you who are attending, we hope to see you there. We are also hoping to organize other events in the future. 

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Jun 13

Everybody Knows This Isn’t Nowhere: Designing for Non-Places

This summer at FUSE, we’ve been thinking about the “non-places” that people spend much of their lives at every day. While this term might be new to you, the concept is surely familiar. Maybe you’re even reading this post from a non-place right now. Non-places are the transient waypoints we pass through on the way to where we are going. When we’re stuck in traffic on the highway on our way home from work, or waiting at the terminal for our flight to depart, or riding the subway surrounded by the same familiar strangers each morning, we’re at non-places. We visit non-places often, but they are never our destinations. 


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May 28

Eventful: Journalism as a Service Through Crowdsourcing

What if requesting an event report was as easy as ordering an Uber ride?

In a previous blog post we described the process of leveraging collaborative writing tools and TaskRabbit, for local news production. We then began to wonder what an automated, streamlined platform for journalism-as-a-service would look like. Would there be a way to connect on-demand labor, with those who need a report of an event?

We built a system that would support exactly this process. Eventful makes it possible for anyone to access the service of event reporting. The reporting process is executed behind the scenes through a crowd of people working online or at the event to produce a news report


Eventful makes requesting a report a one-step process: identify the event type, location, date, and duration. A few hours later and under $150 dollars, a multimedia event report is ready. 

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