A picture of Rob

Robert Capra

Home |  Publications |  Research |  Teaching 


Collaborative Information Seeking  |  HCIR  |  CMC and Social Media  |  Personal Information Management  |  Faceted Library Interfaces  |  Video Archival  |  My Background

Collaborative Information Seeking and Search Results Management
I co-authored an NSF grant (funded for $464,000) to explore users' needs to organize and share information found from Web searches and to build systems to help users conduct searches in collaboration with other people. During 2010-2011, I am managing several students involved in this project, and have served as the advisor for four other students who worked previously on this research (including two Master's papers and two undergraduate projects). As part of this project, I led a team that conducted a study to understand how people organize and share information found from Web searches and published results of this work in a 2010 ACM SIGCHI paper. We are currently building collaborative Web search and sharing tools based on design principles derived from our studies and are planning evaluations in 2011 to examine collaboration using on-line tools in specific settings.

Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval
Much of my research is at the intersection of HCI and IR and I have taken an active role in conducting and promoting research in this important area. I was the Program Chair for the Fourth Workshop on Human-Computer Interaction and Information Retrieval (HCIR 2010) and am a member of the ongoing HCIR Workshop Steering Committee (http://hcir.info). In recent work, I have built systems and studied user interfaces to support exploratory searches of large document collections. Results of this work, published in the ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL), highlight the importance of allowing users to fluidly move between keyword based searching and using facets to refine results of queries. I incorporated these findings into a new version of our Relation Browser software tool (built using Java and Apache Lucene) that allows users to conduct searches that integrate keyword search, facet-based query refinement, and the ability to issue dynamic queries based on mousing over interface elements. Other systems that I have designed and implemented in this area include the HCI Browser, a Firefox plug-in to help conduct human-computer interaction studies of Web tools and interfaces by presenting tasks to participants and logging browser interface events, and Tag Search, a web search system that incorporates social network tags into search results, including a re-ranking function.

Computer-mediated communication and Social Media
Since 2008, more of my research has become connected to social media, computer-mediated communication (CMC) and on-line social networks (SNS). Based on research started with one of my undergraduate research students, I recently co-authored a paper published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior that examines the factors that mediate privacy behaviors in social network sites such as Facebook. I am currently working with two students who are examining factors that influence when one communication channel may be used over another, and why people may choose to "change channels" (e.g. move a conversation from Facebook to email).

Personal Information Management
Personal information management (PIM) is a research area that focuses on how people collect, manage, organize, re-access, and re-use personal information. In my dissertation, I explored how people re-find information previously found on the Web, observing that people carry over strategies from finding to re-finding, and that key sites (waypoints) play an important role in refinding. In collaboration with one of my undergraduate research students, I recently conducted a study to examine how people manage personal digital music collections. We won the 2010 American Society for Information Science and Technology Best Poster Award for this research and have a full paper accepted to the 2011 iConference.

I have been active in establishing PIM as an important area of research. For the past four years, I have been a member of the organizing committee for a series of research workshops on PIM held as part of ACM SIGIR 2006, ACM SIGCHI 2008, and ASIS&T 2009, and have co-authored two book chapters on PIM research.

Faceted Library Interfaces
Many libraries and digital libraries are adding support for advanced interaction and exploration of their collections by developing faceted interfaces for their on-line catalogs. Faceted search interfaces present interactive lists of metadata fields to help users refine their searches. These interfaces are relatively new and there are many open research questions regarding how they should be designed and how they are being used. In collaboration with colleagues at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and Catholic University, I am exploring these issues through laboratory studies and analysis of log data. In a series of laboratory studies, we tracked the eye-movements of participants while they conducted exploratory searches and published our results at JCDL and HCIR.

On-Line Video Archival and Digital Video Libraries
I have research interests in digital video libraries, digital library interfaces, and digital video archival. During the spring of 2011, I am working on a project to upgrade open-video.org, a major digital video library hosted at UNC, from a MySQL+PHP architecture to a system developed at UT Austin using Ruby on Rails. I recently worked on a project at UNC that focused on exploring tools and techniques to aid in the preservation of on-line digital videos (VidArch). Part of my work on this project examined contextual information about videos collected from the 2008 U.S. Presidential election.

Research Background
I have been involved in research since the early 1990s when I was completing my Master's degree in Computer Science at Washington University in St. Louis in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. While there, I worked on developing algorithms for mapping sequences of DNA. After graduating, I worked in corporate research and development at Southwestern Bell's research labs (now merged with AT&T Labs), investigating technologies for speech recognition and voice user interface design. I continued to explore my interest in human-computer interaction during my Ph.D. research at Virginia Tech in the Department of Computer Science, studying how people find and refind information on the web, and how tools can help support their needs. I am currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow and Research Scientist at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Home |  Publications |  Research |  Teaching 

Prepared by r c a p r a 3 [at] u n c [dot] e d u
Last modified: January 09 2012 23:11:47
Copyright 2000-2012 by Robert G. Capra III