combinformation: A mixed-initiative system for representing collections as compositions of image and text surrogates Conference Paper uri icon


  • People need to find, work with, and put together information. Diverse activities, such as scholarly research, comparison shopping, and entertainment involve collecting and connecting information resources. We need to represent collections in ways that promote understanding of individual information resources and also their relationships. Representing individual resources with images as well as text makes good use of human cognitive facilities. Composition, an alternative to lists, means putting representations of elements in a collection together using design principles to form a connected whole. We develop combinFormation, a mixed-initiative system for representing collections as compositions of image and text surrogates. The system provides a set of direct manipulation facilities for forming, editing, organizing, and distributing collections as compositions. Additionally, to assist users in sifting through the vast expanse of potentially relevant information resources, the system also includes a generative agent that can proactively engage in processes of collecting information resources and forming image and text surrogates. A generative temporal visual composition agent develops the collection and its visual representation over time, enabling users to see more possibilities. To keep the user in control, we develop interactive techniques that enable the user to direct the agent. For evaluation, we conducted a field study in an undergraduate general education course offered in the architecture department. Alternating groups of students used combinFormation as an aid in preparing one of two major assignments involving information discovery to support processes of invention. The students that used combinFormation were found to perform better. Copyright 2006 ACM.

name of conference

  • Proceedings of the 6th ACM/IEEE-CS joint conference on Digital libraries

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Kerne, A., Koh, E., Dworaczyk, B., Mistrot, J. M., Choi, H., Smith, S. M., ... Albea, J.

citation count

  • 29

complete list of authors

  • Kerne, Andruid||Koh, Eunyee||Dworaczyk, Blake||Mistrot, J Michael||Choi, Hyun||Smith, Steven M||Graeber, Ross||Caruso, Daniel||Webb, Andrew||Hill, Rodney||Albea, Joel

editor list (cited editors)

  • Marchionini, G., Nelson, M. L., & Marshall, C. C.

publication date

  • June 2006