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Colloquium to Explore Software that Knows "You"

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Posted on Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"Personal Encyclopedias and the 'Baptism of Russia:' Experiments in Interactive Learning  Software" will explore new possibilities in software Wednesday, Nov. 30, at 4 p.m. in the Hoyt Science Resources Center room 152.

 "If you were to visit the Bose store in Grove City you might hear about some very cool software that actually listens to your music and 'learns' your preferences so that, over time, it can automatically select tracks based on what you like," said Tim Smith, a software/psychology expert who is pursuing a degree through Westminster College's  Lifelong Learning Program.  "Similarly, if you visit and buy a few books, you would notice that Amazon's software agent would automatically begin to recommend titles which match and even extend your topics of interest.

 "Whether you find this trend scary or cool, it might lead you to think about ways to apply intelligent knowledge systems to the things you decided are useful," Smith said.  "What if we could build software which applied similar techniques to things you wanted to learn or remember, in a way you wanted to learn them?"

 Smith's presentation will explore questions like: What if this software could automatically find and explore knowledge that is important to you from the class notes that are entered or ideas in a journal?   What if the software could quiz on the class notes entered or comments from a book or article read online?  What if the software could help you find more information on the topics the user was interested in?  What if it could integrate and cross reference new knowledge with the old and help create connections? 

 Since 1996 Smith has worked at the Learning Research and Development Center of the University of Pittsburgh in the fields of psychology, cognitive psychology, neuroscience and computer science.  In industry he was a project manager for software development at Psychology Software Tools Inc., a Pittsburgh based research company.
Smith recently moved to New Wilmington with his wife Kathy Robertson, an assistant professor of biology at Westminster College. He continues to be the research development manager for Psychology Software Tools, while attending classes at Westminster College.

 Contact Smith at (412) 215-2690 or e-mail for more information.