CSE 171: User Interface Design: Social and Technical Issues

1. Homework grades will be strongly influenced by your ability to use the concepts that you are (we hope!) learning from the readings and lectures. Homework must be provided in hardcopy form. Be sure to include your name, the assignment number, and the due date.

2. Do not place answers in a public place (such as your website) until after 7pm on the Wednesday after the Wednesday that they are due.

3. These assignments should be considered tentative until Friday of the week before they are due, and sometimes they might even be changed slightly on Saturday; clarifications could be added at any time.

  1. Due 15 March:
    1. Pick 2 cartoons from the set handed out in class on 8 March and explain for each how some conceptual space has been recontextualized by adding new information, and show how the resulting new meaning is a blend (give and fill in the most pertinent parts of the blend diagram).
    2. Explain 4 things that you found to be the most interesting in this class; carefully organize this material as a webpage (or pages), and explain why you chose the organization you did; use concepts from the class to justify your design. Provide hardcopy printout of the webpage(s). (This should help you prepare for the exam; good luck on it!)
  2. Due 8 March:
    1. Write one paragraph discussing how an XSL file defines a semiotic morphism for XML code written in its style. You may use your XML homework as an example.
    2. Explain how the display in Plate B4a of Shneiderman (after page 514) could be justified by an argument using semiotic morphisms. Do the same for Plate B5, and then explain why it is better than B4a (if it is).
    3. Use quality criteria to determine a strict naturalness ordering of the four blends of the two words "house" and "boat" that are given in the paper An Introduction to Algebraic Semiotics, with Applications to User Interface Design, and explain how this ordering corresponds to our intuition about how "far out" each meaning is.
    4. Pick 3 "oxymorons" from the list of 50 and explain their oxymoronic meaning as a blend of semiotic morphisms for their two parts. Because these are jokes, they are also supposed to have at least one non-oxymoronic blend; both blends should be explained (if they exist).
  3. Due 1 March:
    1. Write approximately one page on dates and times and how they are represented; use semiotic morphisms in your discussion.
    2. Write a paragraph or so explaining how Andersen's notion of manifestation can be seen as a semiotic morphism; give a simple example, and describe what should be preserved.
    3. Modify the code in this link as described there; hand in printed copies of your XML source, your XSL source, your DDT source, and the output that is produced. Note: you must use Internet Explorer version 5 for this assignment; Netscape Navigator does not yet support XML. This problem counts double.
  4. Due 23 February:
    1. Give a careful discussion of the list of problems with video on p.491 of Shneiderman, paying careful attention to the fact that the list contains items of completely different character, for example, that some items have a social origin, whole others merely reflect short term limits of current technology. Explain why each item might be a problem.
    2. Write about 1 page applying Shneiderman's ideas on user interfaces for search capabilities in chapter 15 to the yahoo websearch engine.
    3. The first version of the popup explanation windows for the semiotic zoo included all the same links as the exhibit pages themselves; however, I soon deleted them. Explain why that was a good idea - or why it wasn't, if you think it wasn't.
    4. Use semiotic morphisms to explain why it is usually better to present a set of weblinks as a broad list rather than as tree with non-trivial layering of indices (see p.575 of Shneiderman).
  5. Due 16 February:
    1. Explain why Shneiderman's point 5 on p.209 doesn't really belong on the same list as the previous 4.
    2. Explain why exactly repeating movements of an instrument in surgery would be undesirable (p.210 of Shneiderman).
    3. Use CSCW ideas to explain the phenomenon (described p.197 of Shneiderman) that users of computer games generally prefer a display of highest scores over computer generated feedback during play.
    4. Write approximately one page comparing chapter 14 of Shneiderman with Communication and Collaboration from a CSCW Perspective by Mark Ackerman.
  6. Due 9 February:
    1. Give two examples of adjacency pairs (in the technical sense!) that might occur in ordinary conversation, explain why they are examples, and give a context in which they might occur. (Note: this can be brief.)
    2. Apply the notion of adjacency pair to the Windows 98 logout procedure.
    3. Give an example of a noticeable absence (in its technical sense!) in natural social interaction, explain why it is an example, and give a context in which it might appear. (Note: this can be brief.)
    4. Find a new item that could have been used as an exhibit in the UC San Diego Semiotic Zoo; put it on your class website with an explanation, and give its URL.
  7. Due 2 February:
    1. Do a heuristic evaluation (p.126 of Shneiderman) using the "Eight Golden Rules" (p.74-76) and the 5 display organization guidelines (p.80) for the DTUI website; note that this should include a consistency inspection (p.126).
    2. Pick one other (non-trivial) website and do the same thing.
    3. Recently I changed the ordering of items on this home3work page from chronological to reverse chronological. Explain why that was a good idea - or why it wasn't, if you think it wasn't.
    4. Describe in some detail (e.g., who, when, where, why) an example of recipient design that you actually observed in your own experience; do not use a variant of the examples given in the class notes.
  8. Due 26 January. These questions concern the UC San Diego Semiotic Zoo:
    1. Write a one paragraph statement of its goal;
    2. Write an interface guideline (capturing its current style); and
    3. Write a brief social impact statement for the zoo, following the checklist on pages 113-114 of Shneiderman.
    4. Write about one paragraph on the importance of a website designer (or critic) knowing the goals of a site.
    5. Give an example of a single signifier in English that has two different signifieds (or in Peircian terminology, a representamen that has two different objects). Give an example showing how the signified can be changed by context.
  9. Due 19 January:
    1. Select some interesting website and criticize its design, with respect to meeting its goals. (You can find some interesting websites linked from my "What's Cool" page, e.g., that of Victoria Vesner, or items available by clicking on the walls of Timothy Leary's house-like homepage.)
    2. Discuss Robert Morey's interactive applet proof of the Pythagorean Theorem. In particular, explain why letting the user size the triangle is a good idea.
    3. Set up a webpage for your work on this course; write its URL on the homework sheet and say what you want to achieve with its design. You will then be graded on the quality of the design and to some extent the appropriateness of the goals that you give. Do not include information about solutions to homework problems!
    4. Find at least two inconsistencies in the CSE 171 class website, at the design level, not spelling, syntax, etc.

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Last modified: Thu Apr 6 21:20:38 PDT 2000