How to distill meaning from complex everyday experiences.


Our research is exploring a "constructionist" approach to the development of personal and community publishing tools in order to help increase the level of personal and community participation and appropriation. In the early days of the Internet we built systems to fine-tune and prioritize information based on criteria such as timeliness, importance, and relevance. Still, the expectations of the Internet consumer closely aligned with those of the traditional media consumer–the need for an editor, whether human or machine, to reduce complexity and expose the essence of available information. But we are beginning to expect more than just efficient access to ideas. Our goal is to expand scope rather than restrict it. So we are exploiting a unique feature of electronic media: you can tinker under the hood because every Web browser allows any content to reveal its inner structure. We are attempting to build representations of domain knowledge, but also local knowledge about people, local cultures, and norms. We aim to make the means of expression accessible without diminishing quality or complexity.