Friday, September 10, 2010

Updated Google H Score: More Begets More

Here is a one-year later followup to my post about my Google H score. As you can see, the papers that were cited more often a year ago were cited even more often, in a mostly exponential manner. More cites meant even more cites. I think the general mechanism is that, as a paper is cited more often, it will show up in literature (as a cite) that people read about a given topic, so people are more likely to cite articles they see widely cited (assuming the article is relevant, and hopefully people won't cite an article unless it's good, so to some extent "widely cited" relates to quality). Higher-cited articles are generally listed higher in Google Scholar searches as well. Newer articles about hotter topics will break this pattern (apparently I am not writing recently about hot topics!), but I think this is one factor. Of course if more cites means higher quality, this could just be an issue of quality. I have the feeling that source journal also plays a part, but that's for a variety of diffuse reasons.

Notice that my Google H score is still 4. Bummer! I need 3 more cites on "A Cross National Study..." paper to get my Google H score to 5.

Article (short title)JournalAuthor(s)Year20092010Incr.
Mechanisms of an online public sphereJCMCSolo2005*25*4217
To broadband or not to broadbandJoBEMCo20049101
Honey, I shrunk the world!MCSCo20068124
Playing Internet curveball...ConvergenceSolo20067114
A cross-national study...TISSolo2007121
Copyright notices...JCMCSolo2008*1*10
Global citation patterns...IJoCSolo2009000
Stratification and global elite theoryIJoPORCo2009000

Values as of Sept 10th, 2009 and 2010.
* indicates one self-cite, relevant, honestly!
Neither self-cite affects the Google H value.
The numbers fluctuate from time to time, up and down.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Touch is not a Natural Interface

There is a rather dismal article over at the New York Times, To Win Over Users, Gadgets Have to Be Touchable, by Claire Cain Miller. (I think my expectations are too high for the NYT, but that's another story.) The main idea of the story is that the current touch interfaces (thank you, Apple) are "natural" and we don't need to learn them, we know them already.

Unlike past interfaces centered on the keyboard and mouse, natural user interface uses ingrained human movements that do not have to be learned.
But this is not at all true. A lot of the things we do with touchscreens are the exact same things, conceptually, that we've been doing with GUI interfaces since 1984 (GUI, for those of you who have forgotten, stands for Graphical User Interface, meaning, a mouse, windows, file icons, folders, probably a desktop, in other words, not the text-only CLI, which is Command Line Interface).

If you want an app to launch on your iPhone, you touch it.

If you want an app to launch on your Mac, you touch it with your mouse, which is your onscreen finger. Technically you mouse over it and double-click it, but, it's the same concept. Your mouse cursor is always in the screen, your finger spends most of its time not physically touching your touch-device screen. Same thing.

I could go on, but let's look at text. If you want to select text on your iPhone, you hold your finger on it and expand or select the amount of text you want. If you want to select text on your Mac, you have to take similar direct action on the text with the mouse cursor, which may involve clicking (perhaps with the shift key) or click-dragging or double-clicking.

It is, again, the same basic concept.

In some ways, it is not "ingrained." Widespread literacy is a historically recent phenomenon, but I doubt the ancient Romans poked their finger at text on a scroll and expected anything to happen.

In other ways, it is ingrained, because by copying the concepts from desktop, GUI-based, operating systems, touch-screens were copying a computer front-end that tried to mimic our human interface with our real-world offices: files, folders, trash cans, and a desk (desktop). If you want to do an action on an item, you poke it with your mouse cursor.

I've seen many a touch-device running Windows, where the mouse cursor follows your finger. I cannot remember what these devices are, they may be airport check-in kiosks. (I am pretty sure some were.) Your finger is the mouse.

Of course if you have an iPad or iPhone and there are no buttons on it, well, what's left to try? Touch.

I am reminded of a scene in one of the Star Trek films (the one with the whales, and Chekov's famous line about "nuclear wessels"). Scotty sits down in front of a classic form factor Mac, and tries to talk to it like he would his futuristic computer. The current-day assistant looks confused, and then hands Scotty the mouse, saying "Try this." Scotty picks it up and tries to use it like a microphone. (Eventually he gives up and uses the keyboard, which isn't a realistic approach to what he ends up doing, but that's besides the point.)

Natural interfaces are learned. (We spend many years learning how to interact and interface with the real world and especially people.) They may be easy, but they are learned.