• Baym updates 'Personal Connections' with new research insights on communicating in the digital age

    Posted by George Thomas Jr.

    Nancy Baym

    Whether technology will diminish the intimacy of interpersonal relationships or in some way negatively impact humanity is an age-old concern. Opinions on the matter are as robust as the technological leaps occurring ever more rapidly in our history.

    But opinion can't trump research. It's been just five years since Microsoft's Nancy Baym (@nancybaym) published her research on the subject in Personal Connections in the Digital Age, but much has changed since then -- not just technology, but how we use it -- leading Baym to build upon her initial research and publish a second edition of Personal Connections released this week.

    Tom Standage, digital editor of The Economist, says Baym's "brilliant book explodes myths and challenges stereotypes," and Sonia Livingstone of the London School of Economics and Political Science cites Baym's optimism, "showing how we may yet build new, perhaps better, personal connections in the digital age."

    In the following Q&A, Baym discusses what's new in the second edition, the predictability and unpredictability of technology and how we use it, and where her research is headed -- at least as far as she can predict.

  • Making mobile phones more useful, and addictive

    Posted by Allison Linn

    Ranveer Chandra

    Mobile phones and devices have already crossed the line from convenience to necessity, and we will likely grow even more reliant on them in the future.

    Microsoft researchers are working on a number of ways to make these gadgets both more useful and more fun.

    They'll be presenting their latest research at MobiSys 2015, an annual conference on mobile systems, applications and services that is taking place this week in Florence, Italy.

    Here's a snapshot of some of the research being presented.

  • Collaborating to improve efficiency of the cloud in the increasingly connected world of big data

    Posted by George Thomas Jr.

    NSDI 2015

    The cloud is getting crowded.

    As more and more devices connect to the Internet and more and more data flows to and from the cloud, the networking fabric once deemed sufficient to handle such traffic quickly is getting stretched.

    To address such challenges, Microsoft researchers joined collaborators from multiple universities this week at the annual USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation. Their goal: To recommend solutions that push the architectural boundaries of network services.

  • From the boardroom to the operating room: Making human-computer interaction for an era of more personal computing

    Posted by Allison Linn

    Microsoft Research at CHI 2015

    About 70 Microsoft researchers are traveling this week to ACM CHI 2015, the premiere conference on human-computer interaction, to present research results and tools that can do everything from create an interactive, 3D map of your neighborhood to simply deliver you better web search results.

    Microsoft’s researchers will be presenting papers, participating on panels, organizing the doctoral consortium and leading plenary sessions at this year’s conference.

  • Probabilistic programming goes large scale: From reducing email clutter to any machine learning task

    Posted by George Thomas Jr.

    Probabilistic programming solves inbox clutter

    How is it you seem to be spending more and more time every day sifting through and prioritizing email messages? According to research by The Radicati Group, Inc., the legitimate emails you receive — already upwards of 100 per day — will only continue to increase. So how can you stem the tide of information overload without sacrificing more of your already precious time?

    That's where probabilistic programming becomes relevant to Microsoft's efforts to enhance productivity. In what is believed to be the first large-scale commercial use of this innovative programming paradigm, a recently released feature in Office 365 called Clutter intelligently learns which emails matter most to you and sorts them accordingly, filtering those less-urgent emails into a Clutter folder and allowing users to focus on the most immediately important emails.

    Probabilistic programming solves inbox clutter