In the user is it – is it?: If you want to understand your users, you have to understand their situations


We have learned that a one-size-fits-all system is frequently not the ideal solution. So we want our systems to be intelligent. They shall intelligently adapt to the users, to each user individually. We want to learn from the users’ behavior to create one user model per user. Then we “understand” each individual user and the system can adapt to the individual user models. And so, our system is intelligent. No, it is not! Compared to a one-size-fits-all solution, an adaptive system considering user models may be more advanced and capable to address a wider scope of users more adequately. Yet, that is not the end of the story. While some user characteristics, preferences, or needs may be rather stable for a long period of time, others are highly volatile. Each user encounters various situations throughout a lifetime, even throughout a day. If we want to understand users, we need to understand their situations. And situational models could have more in common across users than our user-model thinking may suggest.


Christine Bauer

Christine Bauer is an Assistant Professor at Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Her research activities center on interactive intelligent systems and her work takes a human-centered computing approach, where technology follows humans’ and the society’s needs. A central theme in her research is context-adaptivity. Currently, she focuses on context-aware (music) recommender systems in particular. Her research and teaching activities are driven by her interdisciplinary background. She holds a Doctoral degree in Social and Economic Sciences, a Master degree in Business Informatics, and a Diploma degree in International Business Administration. In addition, she pursued studies in jazz saxophone. She has authored more than 95 papers, received the prestigious Elise Richter grant, and holds several best paper awards as well as awards for her reviewing activities. Furthermore, she is an experienced teacher and has been teaching a wide spectrum of topics in computing and information systems across 13 institutions. Further information can be found at: