Du, F., Plaisant, C., Spring, N., Shneiderman, B.
To appear in Proc. Of ACM CHI'2017
People often seek examples of similar individuals to guide their own life choices. For example, students making academic plans refer to friends; patients refer to acquaintances with similar conditions, physicians mention past cases seen in their practice. How would they want to search for similar people in databases? We discuss the challenge of finding similar people to guide life choices and report on a need analysis based on 13 interviews. Our PeerFinder prototype enables users to find records that are similar to a seed record, using both record attributes and temporal events found in the records. A user study with 18 participants and four experts shows that users are more engaged and more confident about the value of the results to provide useful evidence to guide life choices when provided with more control over the search process and more context for the results, even at the cost of added complexity.

Project page: PeerFinder
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