J. Blustein

J. Blustein's Research

This document is not current.

Potential graduate students should read my Research Opportunities and Thesis Topic Suggestions webpage instead of this one.

Much of my research is conducted under the mantle of the HAIKU research group.

An outline of my research interests is in my homepage at Dal's FCS.


My overall goal is to help people find and use information more effectively, a goal I believe can best be achieved through collaborative research. I am especially interested in projects about evaluation. I must however limit my involvement in projects so that I can accomplish enough on each of them to publish worthwhile results.

I am now working on the following four projects:

Details about those projects and other projects and ongoing collaborations are below. A list of other topics I am interested in appears further below.

Specific Projects

Methods and Models of Navigation in Hypertextual Space


Through this project we aim to gain a better understanding of how people navigate in large information-rich websites, and use that knowledge to develop better hypertext systems and websites. The project has two closely related parts.

One part of the project is about breadcrumbs (a type of navigational aid in webpages) and how they people use (or don't use) them for navigating. We are experimenting with different types of breadcrumbs to see what helps people most and how people use them.

Another part of this project is about the relationship between spatial ability and success with hypertext. Briefly: several studies have found that there is an unexpected and unusual relationship between users' success with hypertext and a group of individual psychological factors known collectively as spatial ability. We expect that when we have a good understanding of how these factors affect understanding and navigation in hypertextual tasks we can develop better hypertext systems and tools.

breadcrumbs, hypertext navigation, lost in hyperspace, WWW, human-computer interaction (HCI)/human factors, individual differences, spatial ability, hierarchical menus
Major Collaborators
Keith Instone (of IBM and Usable Web)

New Browser Technology


This project is to support readers of electronic versions of discursive scholarly works, such as journal articles.

We aim to make using electronic versions of texts as effective and at least as easy as paper versions. When people read journal articles (and similar types of texts) they often: refer to external resources (such as dictionaries, and other scholarly texts); make notes on the text; and some make cross-references for contrast or clarification. We aim to support all of those tasks for electronic texts in a manner that is convenient for the reader.

We want to give readers the ability to work with electronic versions of texts as easily as they do with paper versions. Readers should be able to: add notes to their versions of journal articles, make cross-references that will act as hypertext links, make multi-destination links if they want, and use a glossary of terms relevant to the articles they are reading. We are interested in different ways of presenting readers' own hypertext links to them.

We are specifically not interested in automatically making links within a text. But we want to give readers a way to make such links for themselves. We are not interested in sharing annotations between users (although we might be interested as part of a follow-on project).

At this early stage of the project, we are

  • conducting user tests with different types of glossaries to determine what factors make the most impact on users success and satisfaction, and
  • developing annotation and linking interfaces in preparation for user testing.
hypertext, annotation, reading, dynamic documents, digital libraries, information seeking, sense making, tablet computing, glossary systems
Major Collaborators
This work fits nicely with my long-term collaboration with HyNIC (for more information about HyNIC see below)
The New Browser Technology project overlaps with the Interfaces for Computer Network Security and Monitoring project (see above) and my work with the HyNIC digital library working group (see below)
Recent Publications
  • Blustein & Noor (2004). Personal Glossaries on the WWW: An Exploratory Study (Hypertext). In ACM Symp. Document Eng. 2004.
  • Edmonds et al. (2004). A Personal Information & Knowledge Infrastructure Integrator. Journal of Digital Information 5(1), article #243.
For more details see
New Browser Technology project homepage

Tools for Assessing the Impact of Colour on Web Accessibility


The technology and knowledge exists to create an automated tool (similar to Nick Kew's Site Valet and Watchfire's (formerly CAST's) Bobby) for automatically assessing the effect of colour on webpage accessibility (for the text part of webpages). We aim to build the first such tool and make the programming interface sufficently open and well-documented that it can be extended (by ourselves and others).

human-computer interaction (HCI)/human factors, WWW, accessibilty, color/colour, automated accessibilty assessment, Web Content Accessibilty Guidelines, Section 508
For more details see
Web Usability project homepage

Other Research Projects

I wrapping up some other projects and participating in some one-off research projects. I try to limit my involvement in other projects so that I can commit enough resources to my main projects.

Major collaborators
Jack Duffy (of Dalhousie School of Management)
Ray Spiteri (of both Univ. of Sask. and Dalhousie (FCS and Dept. Math & Stats))

Other Ongoing Collaborations

Along with the collaborations listed amongst the specific projects (above), I am a member of HyNIC: ACM's special interest group on hypertext and hypermedia's digital library. My work with HyNIC dovetails nicely with my research project about using scholarly works in electronic form (see the New Browser Technology section above).

Future Research Directions

My past (and much of my present) research has been about specific topics. I expect that my future research will also involve these five topics:

See Also


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Created on 15 April 2003 by J. Blustein.
Last updated on 07 August 2003 by J. Blustein.
(Minor updates on 24 March 2005 and 29 May 2005.)