Jason Ellis, Ph.D.

IBM Research
Social Computing Group

I'm a computer scientist who designs and builds social applications. I use field research to devise innovative, market-relevant ideas and put them into practice by building robust code that is deployed for real-world feedback. Examples include social visualization for healthcare, mobile social applications for the developing world, and serious games for virtual team building.
cv/resume . publications . linkedin . twitter

Research // Interaction Design // Software Development

Current Work

Social Visualization for Medical and Social Care

Medical, social work, and other health professionals often have patients in common, but collaboration among these roles is a challenge. I am building a set of interactive visualizations that integrate data from a variety of sources and aim to facilitate appropriate coordination among caregiving roles. The visualizations provide a rich, evolving picture of the patient in their social and medical context. I am working on an interdisciplinary team to design and evaluate these tools. Research issues include design for disparate roles, collaborative visualization, privacy, and information integration.

Social Navigation for Big Data

The amount of data in the world is ever increasing. For people to harness it, they must navigate a maze of data silos, formats, and query mechanisms. I designed and implemented a user interface that enables users to uniformly navigate numerous heterogeneous data sources to find information of interest. Once found, this data can be combined with data from other sources to produce new, shareable data repositories. I am now building a query mining engine to provide social suggestions to users. As the user navigates, my code understands more about what they are seeking and introduces them to other users who have taken similar paths, allowing them to save time by leveraging the work of others.

Past Projects

Mobile Social Applications for the Developing World

Five of the the six billion people on Earth do not have access to computing technology. But that's changing. In Africa, for example, mobile phone subscribers have jumped from 10 million to 400 million between 2004 and 2009. What does it mean to make software that specifically targets these markets? Can social software empower the poor in new and meaningful ways? Social computing has the potential to play a transformative role in the developing world, but tapping that power will require a radical rethink of how we design, build, and profit.
project website . manifesto

Serious Games in Virtual Worlds

Workers are becoming increasingly distributed, from the far-flung collaborators of open source to worldwide corporations. As team members move further apart in space and time, they lose opportunities for face-to-face interaction and the rich possibilities for team building those interactions bring. This project looks at ways serious games (games that are truly fun and encourage learning) in virtual worlds (like Second Life) might help bridge the gap.
project website . nsf workshop . games on my blog

Social Visualization in Software Development

Many software development tools focus on supporting the primary technical work – writing code, managing requirements, filing bugs, etc. Yet with large teams, managing the social aspects of a project can be as complex as managing code. Visualizing social aspects of such projects can help make it easier to find problems and respond appropriately. Papers on this work have appeared in CHI and CSCW, and a key mechanism of the approach has been patented.
chi paper . cscw paper

Incentive Mechanisms and Online Community

Online communities, large and small, are pervasive yet we know little about what sustains them. I believe that novel incentive structures drive a great deal of work in such communities. But how are such incentives born? How do they evolve? How are they integrated into the fabric of communities? This research aims to explore these questions.
incentives workshop

Palaver Tree Online

An online community that supports kids interviewing elders on the Internet to build up a shared multimedia archive of oral history. This is my PhD thesis work. My advisor was Amy Bruckman. Numerous papers have been published on this work; see the project site for more.
project website

Babble & Loops

I spent the summer of 1998 building next-generation prototypes for the Babble/Loops project in the Social Computing Group at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center. Two patents have issued on this work.
babble paper

Audio Aura

I spent the summer of 1997 at Xerox PARC working with Beth Mynatt on the Audio Aura project. This work was published in the proceedings of CHI 98 and two patents have issued on it.
audio aura paper

Program Finder

Before coming to Georgia Tech, I worked at the University of Maryland in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab. There, I designed and implemented ProgramFinder, a dynamic query user interface for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice that assists in the placing of troubled youth in appropriate programs. This work was published in the proceedings of CHI 97.
programfinder paper


Biographical Sketch

Dr. Jason Ellis is a researcher and builder at IBM's Watson Labs in New York. His work focuses on the design, implementation, and study of social applications — particularly those that facilitate collaboration among diverse user populations. Examples include mobile collaboration in the developing world, online gaming communities, inter-generational communication, and distributed collaboration in open source development. His key strengths are the ability to create innovative solutions, lead technical work, and bridge work in technical (computer science), design, and evaluation (social science) areas. Dr. Ellis earned his PhD in Computer Science at Georgia Tech in 2003. He holds 10+ patents and has published in top-tier HCI conferences such as ACM CHI, CSCW, DIS, where he has also served on program committees.

Curriculum Vitae

Complete work history including projects, publications, presentations, awards and the like.

Contact Information

Dr. Jason B. Ellis
IBM T.J. Watson Research Center
P.O. Box 704
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

jasone (at) us.ibm.com // ibm related
jason (at) jellis.org // non-ibm

+1 914 945 2487 // voice
+1 914 945 4133 // fax