Polychronis Ypodimatopoulos Thesis Defense

September 25, 2012


MIT Media Lab, E14-633 (6th Floor)


Navigating both our personal and professional life has evolved into a knowledge-intensive task that is greatly assisted by online social networks (OSN) and other online tools. However, OSNs fail to capture the dynamic affinity groups that arise when people are looking to exchange products and services, engage in some joint activity, or pool resources together. Online forums and mailing lists are built around the notion of free-form, text-based posts that are inherently hard to process and to be reduced to actionable bits of information which can be used beyond the lifespan of the post itself.

This dissertation introduces Brin.gy, an application framework that helps people bypass the social and cultural barriers that are innate in all of us, allowing us to share and discover information that could save us time, money, or simply entertain us. We focus on social discovery in serendipitous and dynamic groups of people where membership can be a function of location, time, affinity or intent. Brin.gy enables people to create their own social applications and customize them to suit the discovery scenario at hand in a matter of a few clicks. Each social application allows people to share information that is relevant to the scenario at hand and in the process, find other people and/or information they have to offer. With more than 200 users and and 3,000 pieces of information about them, we show how Brin.gy enables users to generate a rich set of attributes about themselves, create and use a diverse ecosystem of social applications and quantitatively show how much the discovery process is accelerated compared to the use of traditional tools like email threads and posts to forums and OSNs.

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Host/Chair: Andrew Lippman


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