Brent Hecht
Assistant Professor
Social Computing
Human-Computer Interaction
Spatial Computing
Northwestern University

2240 Campus Rd., Evanston, IL
Frances Searle Building 1-144
bhecht[at]northwestern[dot]edu
Google Scholar
Twitter (@bhecht)
LinkedIn

News

June 2017: Happy to announce that I have been selected as the Chair of the ACM Future of Computing Academy! Feel free to contact me if you have questions, input, or would like to participate.

May 2017: I was one of 46 computer scientists around the world admitted to the inaugural ACM Future of Computing Academy. We've been tasked with developing "a coherent and influential voice that addresses challenging issues facing the field and society in general."

May 2017: New paper accepted into PACM IMWUT / Ubicomp 2017 on the externalities of geographic routing algorithms, e.g. which neighborhoods win and lose with different algorithms (awesome student lead: my Ph.D. student Isaac Johnson).

Mar. 2017: Two papers accepted at ICWSM 2017: One on the substantial interdependence between Wikipedia and Google, another on the role that textual context (doesn't) play in disambiguating the meaning of emoji. Extra big high-fives to student authors Isaac Johnson, Connor McMahon, Hannah Miller, and Daniel Kluver.

Mar. 2017: Our position paper on the role that human geography plays in collective intelligence systems will appear at Collective Intelligence 2017 (w/ Loren Terveen).

Feb. 2017: Article at accepted at ACM TOCHI on research that identifies the critical role that human geography (e.g. the "Big Sort") plays in the variable effectiveness of the sharing economy (awesome student lead: Jacob Thebault-Spieker, awesome collaborator: Loren Terveen).

Dec. 2016: Four papers accepted at CHI 2017 on work with awesome students (special shout out to first authors Isaac Johnson, Allen Yilun Lin, Jacob Thebault-Spieker, Ashley Colley, and Andrew Hall) and amazing colleagues (Johannes Schöning, Loren Terveen, Shilad Sen).

Nov. 2016: New blog post on the implications of the 2016 election for human-computer interaction (my primary branch of computer science).

Sept. 2016: New paper accepted at CSCW 2017 on accurately matching "parent" Wikipedia articles with their "sub-articles" (e.g. "United States" and "American Literature"). Congrats to my Ph.D. student Yilun Lin on his first first-authored CS paper!

Aug. 2016: Started at Northwestern University!

Apr. 2016: New blog post on our paper about emoji's potential for miscommunication.

Mar. 2016: My NSF CAREER proposal on "Understanding and Addressing Geographic Inequalities in Location-Aware Technologies" was funded!

Mar. 2016: Our paper on the potential for accidental miscommunication when using emoji was accepted at ICWSM 2016. Three cheers to the large GroupLens team behind the paper!

Dec. 2015: Three papers accepted at CHI 2016 (w/ my awesome co-authors Isaac Johnson, Allen Lin, Toby Li, Andrew Hall, Sree Sengupta, Aaron Halfaker, Marcus Soll, Philipp Naumann, Pavel Samsonov, and Johannes Schöning) More details as we publish the final drafts!

Nov. 2015: Gave a talk preceding the awarding of the Erasmus Prize to Wikipedia (and afterwards explained my research to King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands himself!)

Nov. 2015: Paper on structural biases in crowd-derived geographic information accepted at the AAAI Spring Symposium on Observational Studies through Social Media and Other Human-Generated Content (w/ my Ph.D. student Isaac Johnson)

Sept. 2015: Got married!

August 2015: New project funded by the National Science Foundation ("Human-centered Semantic Relatedness", a collaboration with Shilad Sen).

June 2015: Our paper on smartwatch cartography – StripeMaps: Improving Map-based Pedestrian Navigation for Smartwatches – has been given a Best Paper Award at MobileHCI 2015!

June 2015: We've launched a public beta of Atlasify ('Towards the Geography of Everything'), our research system published at SIGIR! Check it out at atlasify.com.

May 2015: Gave an invited talk at the "Social Pedia" workshop at ICWSM, organized by folks at Stanford and the Wikimedia Foundation.

Apr. 2015: Our work on using specialized domain signals to improve semantic relatedness estimation (low-level, but important!) was accepted at the International Joint Conference in Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI 2015), one of the top publication venues in that field (collaboration w/ Shilad Sen, my Ph.D. student Isaac Johnson, Matthew Wright, and several wonderful undergrads from a NSF-funded summer undergraduate research experience).

Apr. 2015: Our paper on a new approach to smartwatch cartography that linearizes routing guidance (no need to pan around that tiny screen!) was accepted at MobileHCI 2015 (w/ Dirk Wenig, Johannes Schöning, and Rainer Mailaka).

Apr. 2015: Went to CHI2015 in Seoul to see two collaborative projects beautifully presented by my colleagues Shilad Sen and Pavel Samsonov. Also gave a guest lecture at KAIST while I was out there (thanks to Alice Oh for the invite!)

Apr. 2015: Nominated for the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) GeoForAll Global Educator of the Year Award (w/ Shashi Shekhar) for our MOOC on spatial computing.

Mar. 2015: Check out our ICWSM 2015 paper, which finds that in Wikipedia, the most popular content is often not of the highest-quality (w/ Morten Warcke-Wang, Vivek Ranjan, Loren Terveen).

Mar. 2015: Our CHI 2015 paper on geographic disparities in the "localness" of user-generated content received an Honorable Mention at CHI 2015, indicating a Top-5% submission (w/ Shilad Sen, Heather Ford, Mark Graham, Oliver Keyes).

Jan. 2015: Received a CSCW 2015 Best Paper Award (indicates top 1% of submissions) for our paper on Mechanical Turk and gold standards (w/ Shilad Sen and seven awesome undergrads at Macalester College)!

Jan. 2015: Talk at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, CA.

Brent J. Hecht, Ph.D.

Brent Hecht is an assistant professor at Northwestern University. His interests lie at the intersection of human–computer interaction, social computing, and spatial computing. Two active areas of research include (1) location-aware technologies and (2) better understanding and improving the interactions between algorithms and society (see below for a full list of recent publications and research areas). He takes mixed methods approaches, with an emphasis on "big data" projects. Dr. Hecht advises students in the Computer Science Ph.D. program and the Technology and Social Behavior (TSB) Ph.D. program.

Quick Bio:

Dr. Hecht received a Ph.D. in computer science from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree in geography from UC Santa Barbara, and dual Bachelor’s degrees in computer science and geography from Macalester College. He was a keynote speaker at WikiSym (among other venues) and has received awards for his research at top-tier publication venues in human-computer interaction and geography (e.g. ACM CHI, ACM CSCW, ACM Mobile HCI, COSIT). He has collaborated with Google Research, Xerox PARC, and Microsoft Research, and his work been featured by NPR, Time Magazine, the Washington Post, MIT Technology Review, New York Magazine, Vox, El País, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, and various international TV, radio, and Internet outlets.

For Prospective Students:

I am currently looking for students excited about doing work at the intersection of human-computer interaction, spatial computing, and social computing. Undergraduate and graduate students who would like to join my group should feel free to e-mail me directly. Please include a little bit about yourself (e.g. your major, degrees, CV/resume) and let me know something about your research interests. I have worked with students with backgrounds in computer science, geography (with strong technical skills), data science, information science, and/or related disciplines.

Selected Recent Publications:

== 2017 ==

  1. PACM IMWUT / UbiComp 2017: Johnson, I., Henderson, J., Perry, C., Schöning, J., and Hecht, B. (2017) Beautiful…but at What Cost? An Examination of Externalities in Geographic Vehicle Routing. Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies (PACM IMWUT / UbiComp ’17) . New York : ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  2. AAAI ICWSM 2017: McMahon, C.*, Johnson, I.*, and Hecht, B. (2017) The Substantial Interdependence of Wikipedia and Google – A Case Study on the Relationship Between Peer Production Communities and Information Technologies. Proceedings of AAAI ICWSM 2017. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
    *Indicates equal contribution
    Best Paper Nomination (Top 1% of Submissions)
    PDF of Paper | Code | Slides

  3. AAAI ICWSM 2017: Miller, H., Kluver, D., Thebault-Spieker, J., Terveen, L., and Hecht, B. (2017) Understanding Emoji Ambiguity in Context: The Role of Text in Emoji-Related Miscommunication. Proceedings of ICWSM 2017. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
    PDF of Paper

  4. ACM MobileHCI 2017: Wenig, N., Wenig, D., Ernst, S., Malaka, R., Hecht, B., and Schöning, J. Pharos: Improving Navigation Instructions on Smartwatches by Including Global Landmarks. Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI 2017). New York : ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  5. ACM TOCHI: Thebault-Spieker, J., Terveen, L., and Hecht, B. (2017) Towards a Geographic Understanding of the Sharing Economy: Systemic Biases in UberX and TaskRabbit. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI). In press.
    Preprint PDF | Code

  6. ACM CHI 2017: Johnson, I., McMahon, C., Schöning, J., and Hecht, B. (2017) The Effect of Population and "Structural" Biases on Social Media-based Algorithms – A Case Study in Geolocation Inference Across the Urban-Rural Spectrum. Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017). New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper | Slides

  7. ACM CHI 2017: Lin, A.Y., Kuehl, K., Schöning, J., and Hecht, B. (2017) Understanding “Death by GPS”: A Systematic Analysis of Catastrophic Incidents Associated with Personal Navigation Technologies. Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017). New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper | Dataset

  8. ACM CHI 2017: Colley, A.*, Thebault-Spieker, J.*, Lin, A.Y.*, Häkkilä, J., Nunes, N., Wenig, D., Kuehl, K., Fischman, B., Nisi, V., Runge, N., Degraen, D., Hecht, B.**, Schöning, J**. (2017). The Geography of Pokémon GO: Beneficial and Problematic Effects on Places and Movement. Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017). New York: ACM Press.
    *Indicates co-First Authors, **Indicates co-Principal Investigators
    PDF of Paper | Dataset

  9. ACM CHI 2017: Hall, A., Roberts, S., Thebault-Spieker, J., Lin, Y., Sen, S., Hecht, B., and Terveen, L. (2017) Freedom versus Standardization: Structured Data Generation in a Peer Production Community Proceedings of the 35th Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2017). New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  10. ACM IUI 2017: Sen, S., Swoap, A., Li, Q., Jackson, B., Boatman, B., Dippenaar, J., Gold, R., Ngo, M., Pujol, S., and Hecht, B. (2017) Cartograph: Unlocking Spatial Visualization Through Semantic Enhancement. Proceedings of the 22nd International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI 2017). New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  11. ACM CSCW 2017: Lin, Y., Yu, B., Hall, A., and Hecht, B. (2017) Problematizing and Addressing the Article-as-Concept Assumption in Wikipedia. Proceedings of the 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2017). New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper | Datasets | Code


== 2016 ==

  1. AAAI ICWSM 2016: Miller, H., Thebault-Spieker, J., Chang, S., Johnson, I., Terveen, L., and Hecht, B. (2016) “Blissfully happy” or “ready to fight”: Varying Interpretations of Emoji. Proceedings of ICWSM 2016. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
    PDF of Paper | Blog Post | Datasets

  2. ACM CHI 2016: Johnson, I., Lin, Y., Li, T., Hall, A., Halfaker, A., Schöning, J., and Hecht, B. (2016) Not at Home on the Range: Peer Production and the Urban/Rural Divide. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2016) . New York: ACM Press
    PDF of Paper | Code | Slides | Maps and Demo

  3. ACM CHI 2016: Johnson, I., Sengupta, S., Schöning, J., and Hecht, B. (2016) The Geography and Importance of Localness in Geotagged Social Media. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2016). New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper | Datasets | Slides

  4. ACM CHI 2016: Soll, M., Naumann, P., Schöning, J., Samsonov, P., and Hecht, B. (2016). Helping Computers Understand Geographically-Bound Activity Restrictions. Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI 2016). Short paper. New York: ACM Press. New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  5. ACM MobileHCI 2016: Wenig, D., Schöning, J., Steenbergen, A., Hecht, B., and Malaka, R. (2016). ScrollingHome: Bringing Image-based Indoor Navigation to Smartwatches. Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI 2016). Short paper. New York: ACM Press.
    * Honorable Mention (Top 5% of Submissions)
    PDF of Paper


== 2015 ==

  1. IJCAI 2015: Sen, S., Johnson, I., Harper, R., Mai, H., Olsen, S., Mathers, B., Vonessen, L., Wright, M., and Hecht, B. Towards Domain-Specific SR: A Case Study from Geography. Proceedings of the 24th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI ’15). Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
    PDF of Paper | GeoSR Dataset

  2. ACM MobileHCI 2015: Wenig, D., Schöning, J., Hecht, B., and Malaka, R. StripeMaps: Improving Map-based Pedestrian Navigation for Smartwatches. Proceedings of the 17th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction with Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI 2015). New York: ACM Press.
    * Best Paper Award (Top 1% of Submissions)
    PDF of Paper

  3. AAAI ICWSM 2015: Warncke-Wang, M., Ranjan, V. Terveen, L., and Hecht, B. Misalignment Between Supply and Demand of Quality Content in Peer Production Communities. Proceedings of ICWSM 2015. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
    PDF of Paper

  4. ACM CHI 2015: Sen, S., Ford, H., Musicant, D., Graham, M., Keyes, O., and Hecht, B. 2015. Barriers to the Localness of Volunteered Geographic Information. Proceedings of CHI 2015. New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper | Geoprovenance Algorithm Code | Geoprovenance Evaluation Dataset |
    NEW: Interactive Version of Paper!
    * Honorable Mention (Top 5% of Submissions)

  5. ACM CHI 2015: Samsonov, P., Tang, X., Schöning, J., Kuhn, W., and Hecht, B. 2015. You Can't Smoke Here: Towards Support for Space Usage Rules in Location-aware Technologies. Proceedings of CHI 2015. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
    PDF of Paper

  6. ACM CSCW 2015: Sen, S., Lesicko, M., Giesel, M., Gold, R., Hillman, B., Naden, S., Russell, J., Wang, Z., and Hecht, B. 2015. Turkers, Scholars, "Arafat" and "Peace": Cultural Communities and Algorithmic Gold Standards. Proceedings of CSCW 2015. New York: ACM Press.
    * Best Paper Award Winner (Top 1% of Submissions)
    PDF of Paper | PluraSR200 Dataset | Semantic Relatedness Library

  7. ACM CSCW 2015: Thebault-Spieker, J., Terveen, L., and Hecht, B. 2015. Avoiding the South Side and the Suburbs: The Geography of Mobile Crowdsourcing Markets. Proceedings of CSCW 2015. New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  8. ACM CSCW 2015: Warncke-Wang, M., Ayukaev, V., Hecht, B., and Terveen, L. 2015. The Success and Failure of Quality Improvement Projects in Peer Production Communities. Proceedings of CSCW 2015. New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper


== 2014 ==

  1. ACM SIGSPATIAL 2014: Stockx, T., Hecht, B., and Schöning, J. 2014. SubwayPS: Towards Enabling Smartphone Positioning in Underground Public Transportation Systems. Proceedings of ACM SIGSPATIAL 2014. New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  2. WikiSym 2014: Sen, S., Li, T., Hecht, B. 2014. WikiBrain: Democratizing computation on Wikipedia. Proceedings of the 10th International Symposium on Open Collaboration (OpenSym / WikiSym 2014). New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper | API Website

  3. AAAI ICWSM 2014: Hecht, B., Stephens, M. 2014. A Tale of Cities: Urban Biases in Volunteered Geographic Information. Proceedings of ICWSM 2014. Menlo Park, CA: AAAI Press.
    PDF of Paper | Blog Post

  4. ACM DIS 2014: Schöning, J., Hecht, B., Kuhn, W. 2014. Informing Online and Mobile Map Design with the Collective Wisdom of Cartographers. Proceedings of DIS 2014. New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  5. ACM GROUP 2014: Wang, T., Harper, F. M., Hecht, B. 2014. Designing Better Location Fields in User Profiles. Proceedings of GROUP 2014. New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  6. ACM CHI 2014: Gao, T., Hullman, J., Adar, E., Hecht, B., Diakopoulos, N. 2014. NewsViews: An Automated Pipeline for Creating Custom Geovisualizations for News. Proceedings of CHI 2014. New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper

  7. ACM CSCW 2014: Oeldorf-Hirsch, A., Hecht, B., Morris, M., Teevan, J., Gergle, D. 2014. To Search or to Ask: The Routing of Information Needs Between Traditional Search Engines and Social Networks. Proceedings of CSCW 2014. New York: ACM Press.
    PDF of Paper