Patent #3640537, Magnetic divining rod game equipment

I read, with great interest, the suggestion on disclosure of positive and negative impacts in papers put out by the FCA. The gist was an argument for a, “section [that] would summarize both the anticipated positive and negative impacts of the paper and motivate these anticipated impacts with the proper citations” and that reviewers should apply this by “leverag[ing] the gatekeeping functionality of the peer review process.” I’m delighted that the FCA articulated a concrete set of goals in the post (which I largely agree with) and is tackling the problem of impacts directly. I would very much like to…


Patent #1,059,281 (Diving Apparatus for Marine Exploration and the Like)

I’ve banned the word “explore” from all project proposals in my infovis class. No explore. No exploration. No exploratory. No, you may not create a tool to “allow an analyst to explore the bird strike data.” No, you can’t build a system for “exploration of microarray data.” And, no, you can’t make a framework for “exploratory network analysis.” Just no.

The line that I use on my students is that: No one is paid to explore, they’re paid to find. I’m only 10% trying to be clever. …


Patent #218,235 (Improvement in Automatic Gates)

Warning: geeky stuff below

I’ve been working recently on a project that involves geolocation. Naturally, the articles by Kashmir Hill and David Shamma caught my eye (h/t to Jessica Hullman for that last one). They’re somewhat depressing, but they also made me chuckle. They reminded me of one of my first consulting jobs as an undergrad.

Around ’95 or ’96 I was hired to do some consulting for Agency.com. This was right after they started and they were still this tiny little group renting space in the Time Warner building (maybe 20–30 people). I would go down from Cambridge during…


Patent #691,395 (Apparatus for Clarifying Fecal Matter)

Go read this first for context. Done? Good.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one. A mechanical engineer, a chemical engineer, and a computer scientist are driving down the street. The car breaks down and all three get out to see what’s wrong. The mechanical engineer says, “I know what’s wrong, it sounds like the the piston rods are misaligned, if we just fix that it’ll work again.” She takes out her tools, starts messing with the engine, and 30 minutes later the car still isn’t running. The chemical engineer says, “No, no, it sounds like we’re having a problem…


Patent #189,907 (Improvement in toy money-boxes)

Update (5/12/2011): I wrote a longer (but still short) paper about this for the Crowdsourcing workshop at CHI. It’s available here.

(originally posted Nov. 11, 2010 and moved here)

Ok, it’s not that I actually hate it, but in reviewing a number of Turk papers, reading many more, and listening to many, many, many more planned Turk projects I find myself increasingly frustrated. Don’t get me wrong: we use it all the time in my group for evaluation purposes (or labeling training/test data). …


Patent #3,287,71 (Sausage Making Machine)

I've had the opportunity to serve on various faculty hiring committees over the years which has forced me to think through the hiring process a bit: how can we make good decisions about the call we want to send out, whom to interview, and ultimately whom we make offers to? I thought that now that this year’s search is coming to a close I would reflect more on the specific criteria that I use around hiring: jealousy, ascendancy, and redundancy.

In part, I’m offering this as a counterpoint to the things written from the perspective of the candidate. I've always…

Eytan Adar

Associate Professor, University of Michigan

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