My primary research areas are human-computer interaction (HCI), computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW), and ubiquitous computing (ubicomp). Below are some of the themes I commonly address in my work.

HCI at the End of Life

As the technologies we use become increasingly personalized, system designers are beginning to contend with how to handle the death of a user. In my Ph.D. thesis, I am exploring how technology intersects with the unique needs of the bereaved. In so doing, I coined (with Andrea Charise) the notion of thanatosensitivity to refer to a design approach that engages with these profound circumstances in a dignified and respectful way throughout the software lifecycle. I am elaborating this process through the creation, deployment, and evaluation of Besupp - a website that offers online bereavement support groups.

Beyond the process of thanatosensitive design, I am also interested in how computing plays a role at the end of life more broadly. I am also interested in how this emerging subfield of HCI can contribute to larger interdisciplinary discussions surrounding death, dying, and bereavement.

Related publications:

  • Massimi, M., Dimond, J., & Le Dantec, C. (2012, accepted). Finding a new normal: The role of technology in life disruptions. CSCW 2012.
  • Massimi, M. & Baecker, R. (2011). Dealing with death in design: Developing systems for the bereaved. Proc. CHI 2011, 1001-1010. [PDF] [ACM]
  • Massimi, M., Odom, W., Banks, R., & Kirk, D. (2011). Matters of life and death: Locating the end of life in lifespan-oriented HCI research. Proc. CHI 2011, 987-996. [PDF] [ACM]
  • Massimi, M. (2011). Technology and the human lifespan: Learning from the bereaved. interactions 18(3), 26-29. [PDF] [ACM]
  • Massimi, M. & Baecker, R. (2010). A death in the family: Opportunities for designing technologies for the bereaved. Proc. CHI 2010, 1821-1830. (Best paper award nomination) [PDF] [ACM]
  • Massimi, M., Odom, W., Kirk, D., & Banks, R. (2010). HCI at the end of life: Understanding death, dying, and the digital. Proc. CHI 2010 Extended Abstracts, 4477-4480. [ACM] [Website]
  • Massimi, M. & Charise, A. (2009). Dying, death, and mortality: Towards thanatosensitivity in HCI. Proc. CHI 2009 Extended Abstracts, 2459-2468. [PDF][ACM]

Digital Memory in Support of Human Memory

New forms of "off the desktop" technology can provide support for those with memory difficulties. In my earlier work, I developed mobile phone software for seniors concerned about their memory. I've also worked with SenseCam and ambient displays to develop an in-home support system called Biography Theatre intended to help individuals with Alzheimer's disease to engage with their past.

Related publications:

  • Crete-Nishihata, M., Baecker, R., Massimi, M., Ptak, D., Campigotto, R., Kaufman, L., Brickman, A., Turner, G., Steinerman, J., & Black, S. (2011, to appear). Reconstructing the past: Personal memory technologies are not just personal and not just for memory. Human Computer Interaction.
  • Massimi, M., Berry, E., Browne, G., Smyth, G., Watson, P., & Baecker, R.M. (2008). An exploratory case study of the impact of ambient biographical displays on identity in a patient with Alzheimer's disease. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation 18(5/6), 742-765. [PDF]
  • Massimi, M. and Baecker, R. (2008). An empirical study of seniors' perceptions of mobile phones as memory aids. In Mihailidis, A., Boger, J., Kautz, H., and Normie, L. (Eds.), Technology and Aging (pp. 59-66). Amsterdam: IOS Press. [PDF]

Security and Privacy in New Domains

As computing becomes more personal and more available, new issues concerning privacy and security continue to emerge. Throughout my research, I have been interested in how end users can ensure their privacy is maintained in these new environments. Past and ongoing studies have examined how the bereaved inherit digital artifacts, how to develop usable security systems that permit long-term storage and distribution of such assets, and how to deal with privacy in ubiquitous computing environments where recording devices aren't always easily noticed.

Related publications:

  • Locasto, M., Massimi, M., & DePasquale, P. (2011). Security and privacy considerations in digital death. New Security Paradigms Workshop 2011.
  • Massimi, M., Truong, K., Dearman, D., & Hayes, G. (2010). Understanding recording technologies in everyday life. IEEE Pervasive Computing 9(3), 64-71. [IEEE] [PDF]

HCI/CSCW Methodologies and Approaches

As designers and developers, we sometimes face challenges in understanding the implications of the things we build. I am interested in empirical methods that we might employ to assist in this understanding. To evaluate usability concerns of mobile systems for collaborative problem solving, I developed the Scavenger Hunt method and demonstrated that it finds more usability flaws than standard mobile testing methods. I am also interested in participatory design and how to engage stakeholder groups with rich embodied experiences, including seniors and those with amnesia. My colleagues and I have also demonstrated how the prototypes that we show to different stakeholder groups can generate different forms of feedback.

Related publications:

  • Sellen, K., Massimi, M., Lottridge, D., Bittle, S., & Truong, K. (2009). The People-Prototype problem: Understanding the interaction between prototype format and user group. Proc. CHI 2009, 635-638. [ACM]
  • Wu, M., Birnholtz, J., Richards, B., Baecker, R., & Massimi, M. (2008). Collaborating to remember: A distributed cognition account of families coping with memory impairments. Proc. CHI 2008, 825-834. [ACM]
  • Massimi, M., Baecker, R., & Wu, M. (2007). Using participatory activities with seniors to critique, build, and evaluate mobile phones. Proc. ASSETS, 2007, 155-162. [PDF]
  • Massimi, M., Ganoe, C., & Carroll, J. M. (2007). Scavenger hunt - An empirical tool for collaborative mobile problem-solving. IEEE Pervasive Computing 6(1), 81-87. [PDF]