This project enables measuring the value of user interfaces and the associated tasks carried out with those interfaces. In doing so it integrates the fields of Economics and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) into a new field called Interaction Economics. By measuring value, the project quantifies the costs and benefits underlying user preference for different computer systems. The project will develop new methods that use Internet microtask labor markets to create virtual scientific laboratories, which researchers and designers can use to test new interfaces and social configurations easily, cheaply, and quickly. Designers will be able to measure the utility of their system-the quantitative degree to which users want to use it. This will allow researchers and designers to experimentally design new systems of greater complexity and novelty, with greater certainty of success.

Intellectual merit. This work will enable new economic measurements of social-computational systems. These measurements will in turn enable a new scientific understanding of these systems. This project will use these methods to answer a basic set of questions about these systems and will give other researchers the tools to answer new questions. By bringing economics to HCI and an analysis of burdens and non-monetary values to economics, the project will help both fields move forward in a way that allows them to make more impact on one of the most important phenomena of modern times, the Internet.

Broader impacts. The method of experimenting with online human behavior and measuring effects economically can be applied in many domains beyond Economics and HCI. By bringing Economics and HCI together, both in language and in methods, the project will impact a new generation of researchers in many other fields. The multidisciplinary students trained over the course of this research will serve as connectors between previously disjoint areas of inquiry. The project will provide an open-sourced website that practicing designers and researchers can use to learn the economic value of their interface designs and thus make more data-driven decisions with respect to design iteration and selection. This system will also be available for other researchers to modify and use for different online economic experiments.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS)
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William Bainbridge
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University of Washington
United States
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