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Final Project Proposal
Final Project Proposal: Yaku
Assignment 6 | 3.28
This project will illustrate how comic-book visual language and fisheye views can be used to address some of the design problems in building a 2D real-time chat system. It will attempt to provide users with a wider expressive range using a continuous scale of facial expressions, as well as more context information about message history and ongoing conversational threads.
As observed in class, current online graphical chat environments are flawed in various ways. Two of the more interesting and successful systems are Chat Circles and Comic Books. This project is an attempt to meld and extend some of the design ideas from these two inspirational systems.
Yaku is a 2D chat environment for synchronous conversation. Yaku attempts to extend previous systems in the following areas.
Expression. In Chat Circles, shape and color indicate user activity but are not used for visually expressing emotion or tone of messages. In Comic Chat, the user can select from a discrete, predefined set of facial expressions and gestures. It is proposed that users will appreciate having a continuous scale of moods as expressed by simple facial expressions. Yaku also uses a larger set of visual vocabulary derived from comic books, such as talk balloons of various shapes.
History. In Chat Circles, conversation history is displayed in a separate view from the chat interface. The user only sees the latest messages while he or she is chatting, and does not have immediately visible context information about the flow of conversation thus far.
Ongoing threads. In Chat Circles, each user can focus better on his or her current conversation, thanks to the use of the physical proximity metaphor; however, adhering to the metaphor means that the only information about other conversational clusters is the indication of their activity level. One must roam around the chat space in order to see what other people are talking about, and one may well miss discussions of interest. This burden might be lessened if information about other conversations could be shown to the user according to his or her specifications. As for Comic Chat, there is no notion of physical proximity, all messages are shown at all times to all users. The user keeps track of his or her own conversation, and here, the automatic framing of Comic Chat may confuse users by including within the same frame those users who may not be conversing with each other (i.e. who belong to different conversational 'clusters').
Interface (really truly very rough and not-so-technicolor) Sketches
- Each user is represented as a 2D cartoon face.
- Users can pick a color for the face.
- Facial expressions are composed of simple lines, dots, and shapes.
- Facial shape and expression reflect the tone or emotion of the message.
- Inactivity causes the face to fade to gray.
- The user has access to a smooth scale of expressions; the midway expressions are computed by interpolating between two extreme expressions.
- The user determines which facial expression is shown for a message.
- Some default processing of the message text may be performed, as in Comic Chat. For example, typing :) would cause a smile.
- Messages are displayed inside talk balloons, positioned above the face.
- Balloon shape reflects the tone or emotion of the message, as specified for the face.
- Balloons float upward and fade away over time.
- Users must be next to each other to be able to chat with each other. (Physical proximity metaphor)
- Fisheye views are used to display the chat space.
- A user's current conversational cluster is enlarged so that the facial expressions are visible.
- All other conversation clusters are shown with smaller shapes; the further they are from the user's cluster, the smaller their members.
- The user cannot see the messages sent by members of other clusters, but can see the changes in their shapes.
- Users can specify keywords, which the system searches for in all ongoing conversations.
- When a keyword is mentioned in a conversation for another cluster, a talk balloon is displayed over that cluster to indicate the keyword's appearance. For example, in the above sketch, one of three users has specified the keywords "media", "virtual", and "society".
Continous scale of facial expressions. Is this truly useful? Given the simplicity of the expressions, can a user express, say, amusement (rather than happiness) with a face halfway between neutral and smiling? Or is it much more useful to have an entirely different expression?
Animated interactions. Would it be helpful or at least fun to let users make small, short animated interactions?
Ongoing threads. There might be other useful ways of letting users keep track of other conversational clusters. For example, an option might allow a user to watch for all keywords currently specified by all users, giving the user a sense of what this group of chatters are interested in. (Does this cause privacy issues, even if one cannot tell who is interested in which keywords?) Another example: a more sophisticated tracking mechanism might keep watch of the flow of each cluster, and detect frequently used words. If a cluster mentiones "Clinton" very often, this might be indicated to the user even if he or she is not part of that cluster.
- Viegas, F. and J. Donath. 1999. Chat Circles. In Proceedings of CHI 99.
- Kurlander, D., T. Skelly and D. Salesin. 1996. Comic Chat. In Proceedings of ACM SIGGRAPH.
- Eisner, Will. Comics and Sequential Art. Selections from chapter 5.
- McCloud, Scott. 1993. Understanding Comics.
- Horn, Robert E. 1998. Visual Language.
James Jung-Hoon Seo | 3.27.2000