Aran Lunzer comes from Britain, and has been finding ways to make his
programming hobby double as a career ever since the summer-holiday
jobs during his Engineering studies at the University of Cambridge.
On graduating in 1986 he joined IBM UK Laboratories, working in a
software technology group that introduced him to the joys of Smalltalk
and the power of end-user programming. This motivated him to return
to full-time study at the University of Glasgow in 1991, graduating
four years later with a PhD in human-computer interaction. His thesis
demonstrated how interfaces that support a form of reconnaissance can
help users to explore large result spaces.
After an internship at UBS in Zurich he moved to Hokkaido University
in northern Japan, working there as a researcher in two periods
totalling 12 years; between these periods he worked at the University
of Copenhagen from 2002-2004. Whereas reconnaissance places all
initiative in the hands of the user, the "subjunctive interface"
approach developed over this time allows for shared initiative between
user and system.
Aran joined VPRI as a senior researcher in October 2011, following a
one-month visit earlier that year. His plan is to embed
subjunctive-interface mechanisms deep into the software platforms
being built here, to help users understand the context of results they
obtain from searches and from simulations. What we'd like is for
users to think "What other results are nearby, and what would have to
change in order for me to see them?". We'd like our interfaces to
foster and to reward such curiosity.