I am a sociologist of communication technology and human-computer interaction, exploring remote and hybrid work in the Collaborative Intelligence theme at Microsoft Research Cambridge (UK).
My research group
I currently lead the BREW (Blended Reality Encounters & Workflows) research group. We investigate how remote/hybrid teams can feel present and achieve goals throughout the workday, from meetings and events to ambient awareness and spontaneous encounters.
My training is ethnomethodological, drawing on video-recorded conversations and ethnographic data, and analysing that data using qualitative methods such as conversation analysis and membership categorisation analysis. I specialized in field research but also conduct interview, diary, and survey studies, as well as lab-based studies of prototypes. Increasingly, however, I combine qualitative with quantitative approaches, such as surveys and telemetry, to answer questions at scale.
I have been a member of 5 global category first-place winning projects in Microsoft OneWeek Hackathons, including one global Grand Prize winner. You can read about one of these that became a feature in our Garage Wall of Fame post Mobile Sharing and Companion Experiences for Microsoft Teams Meetings. One day I might even be able to say what the other ones were! 😉
I received my PhD in 2010 in the field of Sociology specializing in Communication, from the University at Albany, State University of New York. My dissertation was chaired by Professor Emerita Anita Pomerantz with committee members Professor Teresa Harrison, Professor Glenna Spitze, and Professor Ronald Jacobs.
Prior to working at Microsoft, I was a Lecturer in Strategic Communication at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
I have been a PC member of CHI and CSCW several times and review for many major HCI, communication, and technology journals and conferences. I was the Senior Editor of the Communication Technology section of the online Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication. I have guest-edited special issues of Human Computer Interaction, the Electronic Journal of Communication. and the Australian Journal of Communication. I co-chaired the Microsoft 2020 New Future of Work Symposium (with Gloria Mark) and the 2012 conference of the Australasian Institute of Ethnomethodology and Conversation Analysis (with Richard Fitzgerald).
I am the former Chair and a former Board Member of Electronic Frontiers Australia, a non-profit group advocating for digital access, freedom, and privacy.
Social Presence in Virtual Event Spaces - 2022 - Pre-CHI workshop talk series (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/social-presence-in-virtual-event-spaces/)
Speaker: Sean Rintel, Microsoft Research
Abstract: The current hype around how the VR revolution in “presence” will improve online meetings and encounters is exciting, but we’ve been here before. Not only have we been here before about VR itself, but we’ve been here before about prior communication technologies, from the telephone, email, chat rooms, videoconferencing, and more. If we’ve been here before, why are we still seeking it? This overview of the research and commercial technology history of mediated presence, and some recent concepts, will interrogate the pursuit of mediated presence. The link between presence and fidelity to being in person is interesting, but both not as strong as we might assume, and only a piece of the communicative puzzle. Ultimately, goals should drive media choice. As we build new VR/AR experiences, we need to ensure that new systems don’t treat presence as an end-point, but as part of the broader achievement of goals.
Hybrid meetings—meetings in which there is a mix of remote and in-person participants—aren’t a new phenomenon, but the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought their opportunities and challenges to center stage. The Microsoft approach to hybrid meetings is informed by our long history of videoconferencing and workplace research, especially social successes and failures and technical configurations, as well as what we have learned during the pandemic. However, it is also clear now that current systems were not ready for hybrid to be the primary meeting modality. It's also come to light that the future of hybrid meetings—including those in future mixed and virtual reality technologies—will need to reconsider each remote and local room participant's perspective on the meeting as unique. In this session, a panel of Microsoft and external researchers, along with Microsoft Teams developers, will explore the nature of perspective in hybrid meeting technologies.
Learn more about the 2021 Microsoft Research Summit: https://Aka.ms/researchsummit
Sean Rintel, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research Cambridge
Shiraz Cupala, Partner Group Manager, Microsoft
Abigail Sellen, Deputy Director, Microsoft Research Cambridge
John Tang, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research
Jaime Teevan, Chief Scientist, Microsoft Research
Carman Neustaedter, Dean of the Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology, Simon Fraser University
Mobile Sharing and Companion Experiences Video meetings traditionally limit each person to one device, hindering the ways that people can participate, share, and interact. Microsoft Teams empowers users to achieve more by using their computer and phone together as companions…