Document and Conversation Summarization Website; Impact of Social Media Platforms on User Behavior and Design Trends

King, Zachary, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Forelle, MC, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

My STS and technical projects offer a unique perspective on the relationship between technology and human behavior. My technical project provides a practical solution for harnessing Microsoft's summarization capabilities, while the insights from the STS project have the potential to influence future UI design decisions made by social media platforms that play a pivotal role in modern communication and information consumption. My interest in UI design was inspired by the work done during my internship, where I learned more about the process of creating a website. This work inspired me to learn more about evolving UI design standards, specifically within social media platforms that I interact with frequently.

During the summer before my third year at the University of Virginia, I had the incredible opportunity to intern at Microsoft in Seattle, WA. Microsoft is one of the world's largest technology companies, providing hardware and software solutions for consumers impacting millions of users around the world. My role was within the AI Platform division, whose core mission was to enhance Microsoft's existing summarization technology by harnessing machine learning algorithms and natural language processing techniques to generate summaries for various document and conversation types. My team needed a user-friendly way to present their advancements in generative summarization technologies to customers. To address this, two other interns and I developed a website to showcase both document and conversation summarization using extractive and abstractive methods. I worked in both a Software Engineering and Product Management role during the project, performing tasks for frontend and backend development, determining task priorities, creating design mock-ups for features, and meeting with team members to determine the most important features to implement into the website. The website was successful, serving as a useful tool for the team to showcase advancements in summarization technologies. Creating the site provided customers with a better understanding of how to apply Microsoft's summarization technologies to address their own company's specific needs.

In my STS paper, I investigate how changes in UI design trends have shaped social media platforms, specifically focusing on how user engagement, content discoverability, and user retention were impacted. I perform a literature review covering the history of UI design from its origins in the mid 1940s to the establishment of standards through conferences and legislative efforts. I used the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) framework to identify the important stakeholders involved in shaping social media platforms. I analyze the social media sites MySpace and Facebook, two case studies that highlight contrasting design approaches. I identify features in these sites that have persisted, where in the popular social media platforms these design choices were adopted and explore areas in which they succeeded or failed. These cases allow me to determine the impact of sociotechnical factors on the development and evolution of social media sites. The case studies also show how the features integrated into the sites are influenced by a variety of stakeholders, as well as how web design standards have adapted to fit these stakeholder’s needs. I also note the importance of ethical guidelines focused on user privacy as it relates to UI design as technologies continue to develop.

By working on both of these projects simultaneously, I was able to have a unique perspective on UI design. During my time at Microsoft, I was able to gain insight into how large companies operate when developing products. As I reflected on my internship experience while writing my technical report, I was able to take this knowledge and incorporate it into my STS project when I discussed the stakeholders involved and how developers look at UI design today and in the past. My internship project was tailored specifically to the needs of my team but sparked my interest in UI design more generally. When working on my STS project, I was able to shift the focus towards something aligned more directly with my interests while also discussing the impact that UI design can have on users.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
UI, Internship, SCOT, Social Media, Computer Science

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

Technical Advisor: Rosanne Vrugtman

STS Advisor: MC Forelle

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