Swellness: Challenges & opportunities in using social software to support health and wellness

Tuesday, 15 May 2012, 9:30a
, Space 2345

Every day, millions of people make decisions in digital environments or supported by software tools. Designers of sociotechnical systems influence the choices people make, both intentionally and inadvertently, with their design decisions.

In this talk, I will discuss my research on software to help people live healthier and happier lives, including research platforms and early results. This work is part of a larger agenda of understanding individual preferences and systems designed to nudge people to be their better selves.

Talk references · Slides (11MB PDF)

Bio Sean is a PhD candidate, and Intel PhD fellow, at the University of Michigan's School of Information, where he studies the use of software to support positive behavior changes. Sean completed his BS in Engineering at Olin College in 2006, where he was one of 30 students who spent a year developing the new college before becoming part of the first-ever class. He has been a political blogger and, while working at Boeing, designed concepts for future passenger airplane interiors. Sean will join the University of Washington's Department of Human Centered Design and Engineering in Fall 2012 as an assistant professor.
smunson at uw dot edu
323D Sieg Building
Campus Box 352315

Seattle, WA 98195
Pronouns: he / him
Work referenced in my talk
Health & Wellness (Swellness)

I am building and deploying a series of applications designed to support various aspects of wellness. This work will identify ways to build applications that effectively support health behavior change and will also contribute to our understanding of theories about influence and persuasion and their interactions with indvidual differences and preferences. Published work includes a study of how people use Facebook and Online Health Communities to support health goals (CSCW 2011) and a study of a social version of a positive psycholog exercise (Persuasive 2010). This project is funded by Intel and the University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School.

Research platforms: 3GT · Commitments · Steps (currently mid-overhaul!)

Exposure to Diverse Political Opinions (BALANCE)

Aggregators such as Digg, Reddit, and Google News rely on ratings and links to select and present subsets of the large quantity of news and opinion items generated each day. This work requires understanding people's preferences for diversity (CHI 2010) and where diverse interactions may already occur online (e.g., ICWSM 2011), as well as developing methods of selecting diverse sets of items (ICWSM 2009), and presentation techniques to make these sets appealing (CHI 2010). This project will provide a better understanding of alternative notions of what it means for a set of items to be diverse, the range of reactions that different people have to varying levels and presentations of diversity, and of the outcomes of exposure to diverse political views. Funded by NSF award #IIS-0916099 and a Yahoo! Key Technical Challenges grant.

Also ask me about...
SI Display

Public displays to nurture community. Design, long-term deployment, and evaluation of two public displays at the School of Information. CSCW paper and open source software.

MedShelf Logo

Wikis as memory. I worked with Derek Hansen to study how wikis (which allow for synthesis) can complement threaded discussion software (email lists) for technical support and health. I also deployed and evaluated a wiki as an organizational memory tool in a workgroup at Boeing (WikiSym 2008).