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Scott Carter, Univeristy of California, Berkeley, USA

Demonstration: Demonstrations 1

!hobgoblin is, in short, a museum, containing various high quality modern and contemporary artworks, mostly from Scandinavia, that adjusts itself to reflect the decisions, and therefore character, of the user. The works themselves range from simple photos of modern designs to contemporary web-based pieces to more mundane service sites that nonetheless reflect quintessential Scandinavian design practices. The museum also includes contemporary web-based artworks that may or may not have been produced in Scandinavia but that transcend national boundaries. New works are being added to the database on a regular basis.

How it works

When a user launches !hobgoblin, a new window appears on which are three images and four parameter bars. When a user scrolls over an image, more information about that piece appears.

The four parameter-pairs reflect the system's approximation of the user's taste. Their meanings are as follows:

simplistic/expressive: Is the layout of the site itself simple and functional, or is it expressive, flashy and graphic heavy? This qualifier has more to do with the attributes of the site itself than its contents.

pragmatic/artistic: Do the contents of the site serve pragmatic ends? Or does the site exist as an independent artwork? Sites that themselves contain several artworks will tend towards the middle of the scale.

virtual/real: Does the site or page display representations of real objects, or is the content virtual? Sites that contain real objects or data but are not themselves real objects (e.g. museum Web sites) will tend to be rated around 50.

container/object: Is the site a container for other works or other projects? Or does the site stand on its own as a piece of art (or, is the 'site' a page describing a tangible artwork)?

When a user clicks on one of the images several events are set in motion: the site referred to appears in the main window, and the !hobgoblin interface reloads, updates the parameter-pairs based on the user's input and displays three new images that link to sites some way related to the sites the user has thus far viewed. Besides the three new images, smaller representations of the last five sites visited appear in the !hobgoblin window, but may be buried beneath the three new possible choices. All of the images in the !hobgoblin window are draggable, however, so a user can by moving images around the screen 'rediscover' a previously visited site.

New choices will always link to sites different than the sites the user has most recently visited, but may start to repeat sites viewed in the not-so-distant past. However, a user may at any time reset !hobgoblin, effectively erasing the user's history, and begin again.

Also, the user may click on any one of the parameter names to increase that parameter's importance.