CSE 271: User Interface Design: Social and
1. Homework will not be graded, because there is no TA; but if the
homework were graded, the grades would be strongly influenced by how well
the concepts in the readings and lectures are used.
2. We will do some problems together in class. For additional feedback on
homework, please see me during my office hours.
- Due 10 April.
- Select two interesting but quite different websites and criticize
their design with respect to meeting their goals. (Some interesting
websites are linked from my "What's
Cool" page, e.g., that of Victoria Vesna, or items available by
clicking on the walls of Timothy Leary's house-like homepage.)
- 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.
- Design a webpage for your work in this course; hand in a print of the
page, and a sheet stating your goals for its design. You will be graded on
the quality of the design, and to some extent the appropriateness of the
goals. Do not include information about solutions to homework
problems on this page! Appropriate topics might be comments on readings,
questions about content, further details of examples, further references and
links, and new examples.
- Find at least two inconsistencies in the 1998 CSE 271 class website at the design
level - not spelling, syntax, etc.
- Due 16 April. The first three questions concern the Information Awareness
Office website (note that the link takes you to just one page of
that office, devoted to the Total Information Awareness program).
- Write a one paragraph statement of its goal;
- Write an interface guideline capturing its current style; and
- Write a brief social impact statement for the site, following the
checklist on pages 113-114 of Shneiderman.
- Use the "Eight Golden Rules" (pages 74-75 of Shneiderman) as a basis for
critiquing the websites that you discussed in questions 1 and 2 of last
- Explain how social issues and values come into your answer to the
- (Optional) In linguistics, mitigation is defined to be any use
of language that has the effect of decreasing the impact of a sentence.
One important class of mitigation devices are hedges, which are
adjectives and/or adverbs that decrease the impact of a noun or verb. Some
examples are "sort of", "sometimes", "possibly", "often", "maybe" and
"perhaps". Some other mitigation devices are syntactic, such as placing
the main content in a subordinate clause. List as many instances of
mitigation as you can find in the first paragraph of section 2.2.5 (page
60) of Shneiderman, and then rewrite the paragraph without them. Draw a
brief conclusion from this exercise.
- Due 24 April.
- Give an example of a (in Peircian terminology) representamen that has
two different objects, and explain how the interpretant differs in the two
- Show how to construct "menu signs" along similar lines as the "button
sign" in section 3 of the class notes. Are these
signs consistent with the original HTML philosophy described in section 3? Why or why not?
- Give three examples of recipient design from your everyday life.
(There is also a later problem on recipient design.)
- Give two real examples of mitigated speech from your own everyday life;
please give real examples, not imaginary examples.
- Write a semiotic analysis of some small but non-trivial sign, such as
the cover of the text by Shneiderman, or the original Total Information Awareness Logo, or Minard's map of Napoleon's 1812 defeat. Pay
particular attention to colors, sizes, backgrounds, fonts, etc. of any
text, and to the structuring of this single complex sign as a composition
of smaller signs. Point out any instances of iconicity and indexicality.
(You might also find it interesting to analyze the DARPA logo.)
- Write a proposal for your class project. You should start writing the
paper as soon as your topic is confirmed. The proposal should be on a
separate piece of paper from other homework, and should include your email
address, so that if necessary, we can discuss it quickly and easily.
- Due 1 May.
- Make as many suggestions as you can for improving the Wireless Questionnaire, using material in
Chapter 4 of Shneiderman and the papers Communication and Collaboration from a CSCW
Perspective and Techniques for Requirements
- Write approximately one page on dates and times and how they are
represented; use semiotic morphisms in your discussion.
- The ordering of items in the readings and homework pages of an old version of this course was reverse chronological. Use
semiotic morphisms (in an informal way) to explain why that was not a good
idea - or why it was, if you think it was. Hint: See the first exhibit in
the semiotic zoo.
- Use semiotic morphisms to justify placing scrollbars on the right side
of a window in the same color as the window border (with the unshown part
represented by a different shade).
- (Optional) Write approximately one page comparing chapter 14 of
Shneiderman with Communication and
Collaboration from a CSCW Perspective by Mark Ackerman.
- If you have no already done so, please hand in your project proposal!
It should be on a separte page from the rest of your homework; please
include your email address, so we can discuss it quickly and easily. You
should carefully read the projects page, and also
look at future class notes (in the website for last
year's class), because some of the most interesting topics have not yet
been covered. You can start writing as soon as your topic is confirmed.
- Due 8 May:
- Give two examples of adjacency pairs (in the technical sense!) that you
actually observed in ordinary conversation, explain why they are examples,
and describe the context in which they occurred. (Hint: See section 6.2.1
of Techniques for Requirements
Elicitation. Your answer could be rather brief. Please give real
examples, not imaginary examples.)
- Apply the notion of adjacency pair to the Windows logout procedure (and
say which specific version of Windows you are considering, NT, XP, 2000, or
- 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).
- Explain in some detail how a scrollbar is a semiotic morphism: at least
sketch the structure of the source semiotic space, including some sorts,
constructors, priorities, and levels. Say what is preserved, and what is
not. Explain why. Also, consider also whether scrollbars should be on the
right or left side of a window.
- 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.
- Describe in some detail (e.g., who, when, where, why) an example of
recipient design that you actually observed in your own experience. (Note:
this can be brief. Please give a real example, not an imaginary example.)
- Due 15 May:
- Give an example of a noticeable absence (in its technical sense!) that
you actually observed in natural social interaction, explain why it is an
example, and describe the context in which it appeared. (Note: this can be
brief. Please give a real example, not an imaginary example.)
- Describe the structure of the simple narrative in the webpage The Structure of Narrative with a
parse tree using the notation given there. Also describe the semiotic
morphism that maps narratives to their Labov structures.
- Write about 1 page applying Shneiderman's ideas on user interfaces for
search capabilities in chapter 15 to the Yahoo! websearch engine.
- 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.
- Use semiotic morphisms to explain why it is usually better to
present a set of weblinks as a broad list rather than as a tree
with non-trivial index layering (see Shneiderman, p.575). Describe a case
where this usual rule does not work.
- (Optional) Do the same as in problem 3 for the story in the Darwin Award Nomination.
- (Optional) Give a new item that could be used as an exhibit in the UC San Diego Semiotic Zoo; be sure to
provide a careful explanation for your exhibit.
- (Optional) 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.
- Due 22 May:
The OBJ3 Survival
Guide may be useful. Source code for OBJ3 version 2.04, and
compiled code for Sun workstations, can be obtained by ftp from ftp://www.cs.ucsd.edu/pub/fac/goguen.
The latest (June 2000) open source release, OBJ3 version
2.06 or later, cleaned up from version 2.04 (from 1992), engineered by
Joseph Kiniry and Sula Ma, and built and supported by Joseph Kiniry; this runs under GCL
2.2.2. You can also get the BOBJ variant of OBJ from the BOBJ ftp site; it is in
- Some pages of the
1998 CSE 271 website used "<hr>" to separate links at the bottom of the
page, but now "<br>" is used instead (but not before the first link or
after the last). Use semiotic morphisms to explain why that is a good idea
- or why it isn't, if you think it isn't.
- 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 display that is produced. You may need to use
Internet Explorer (version 5 or later) for this assignment, since Netscape
Navigator may not yet support XML. Also follow the other instructions that
are given on the linked page.
- Apply both classical and algebraic semiotics to the "plumbing"
representation in Figure 15.18, page 543, of Shneiderman (see the semiotic methodology in Section 7 of the class
notes). Say what aspects of this representation you think work, what
aspects you think do not work, and explain why.
- Explain how the display in Plate B4a of Shneiderman (after page 514)
could be seen as a semiotic morphism. Do the same for Plate B5,
and then explain why it is better than B4a (if it is).
- Write a paragraph explaining how Andersen's notion of
manifestation can be seen as a semiotic morphism; give a simple
example, and describe what should be preserved.
- (Optional) Use OBJ notation to define the Labov narrative structure
defined in The Structure of
Narrative, and also the structure of the particular story given
there. Describe how semiotic morphisms enter into this situation. (See Formal Notation for
- Due 29 May:
- Describe in detail your actions in trying to answer three simple but
non-trivial questions using a web browser. Say whether your search breadth
first, depth first, or neither, and whether it was adaptive. (An example
would be to find the birth date of Galileo Galilei, by first placing the
keyword "Galileo" into a browser.)
- 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
- Write the structure given in the DTD for
bibliographic entities in OBJ, and test run this code on some simple
- Write about one page using semiotics, especially morphisms, blends, and
iconicity, to analyze some specific everyday object, such as a
favorite coffee mug, couch, or table (see the semiotic methodology in Section 7 of the class
- (Optional) Write the other two blends described in the Formal Notation for Conceptual
Blending in OBJ, and run the code in order to type check it.
- Due 5 June:
- Write a short description of some major actants involved with XML
(including potential users and actants in the standards process) and some
of the most important relations among them. Draw a graph summarizing your
- Pick 3 cartoons from the comics section of a newspaper 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).
- Write an outline of the most important points in this class, with an
explaination of the relevance of each one to user interface design.
- Note: Your project is also due today.
To CSE 271 homepage
Maintained by Joseph Goguen
© 2000 - 2003 Joseph Goguen, all rights reserved.
Last modified: Sat Jun 14 08:46:49 PDT 2003