Tuesday, April 21, 2009

GUI - Phooey!: The Case for Text Input

By: Max Kleek, Michael Bernsterin, David R. Karger, MIT CSAIL.
mc shraefel, Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton

Commented on:
Patrick Surber
Josh Meyers
Adam Griffin

Conventional methods for information entry and retrieval do not provide the perfect package of easy data entry and efficient data retrieval.
2 methods:

free text entry - Easy entry, hard retrieval
Context capture - hard to input, easier retrieval.

Solution: Free text entry + context capture = JourKnow
Jourknow combines the free form text entry with context capture techniques to give users a fast and easy interface for input and output.
Jourknow takes free text input and breaks down the data into structures and entities and associates it with tags. Jourknow parses information and recognizes certain subjects such as meetings, dates and locations. All information inputted into Jourknow is called "codex".

Source: http://delivery.acm.org/10.1145/1300000/1294247/p193-vankleek.pdf?key1=1294247&key2=7952430421&coll=GUIDE&dl=GUIDE&CFID=32191449&CFTOKEN=93177194

Jourknow uses a simplified language called pidgin. It allows users to express things more naturally. It also uses a syntax based on notation3, which let users make statements to "express arbitrary structural properties and relationship among entities...".
Jourknow provides feedback on how expressions are interpreted so users can know if they need to explicitly alter any associations or to correct any parses. The program also contains filtering features that allow users to efficiently find data that they previously wrote. Jourknow associates contexts to notes that users have wrote. Contexts include pictures, videos and information describing the situation when they wrote the note. These contexts help the user recall the time when they first recorded the data. These contexts are chronologically organized and Jourknow also breaks down time into segments such as minutes, hours, days, or morning, afternoon and night.

Initial informal tests included 5 users and the general consent was positive. Users commented on the text-input interface. Opinions about the tagging functionality were split and some users desired the ability to be able to associate non-textual information items with notes.

Information management was benefitted by the rich GUI interface and a good input interface is wasted if the trouble to retrieve the information outweighs it. The goal of Jourknow is to provide users with a GUI interface that'll facilitate information entry and retrieval. The paper described a design that minimizes the effort needed for text entry and their implementation of a system that meets their criteria.


  1. It's very difficult to find that correct balance between a language fast enough to capture and one accurate enough to be understood across a number of domains. We're still working on that :)

  2. This really is pretty cool, it is very similar to many other things that are already in place in systems, so I don't see it taking off. One thing I would like to see if the ability to press a keyboard shortcut anywhere in my system at anytime, type something like "meeting with frank at 5pm today", press the shortcut again and it is done. If this can do that, I'll take it.

  3. If it is a separate program that has to be launched, then I might as well just open up Google calendar and write a quick entry. If it's like a sticky note kind of thing, then it would be more useful. Combine that with an actual calendar application and you have a really nice product.