Gerrit van der Veer
As always, this year’s CHI conference was a peek into the life of our world. Over 2,700 attendees were able to choose from more accepted contributions than ever before. No, we did not lower the quality of our acceptance criteria. Yes, we did condense the presentations, giving authors shorter time slots to discuss their papers. Still, there was enough time for in-depth discussion; presenters simply had to focus more on their paper’s core message. And to help attendees decide which talks to attend, we had even more support systems, including the ultra-short daily madness acts, iPhone and Android apps, and IBM’s Event Map, to supplement the printed conference guide.
Local activities related to human-computer interaction have been developing around the globe. In North America and in Europe SIGCHI has a strong presence and is collaborating in various ways with the locals. In other parts of the world it still seems we do not communicate optimally. There are certainly language barriers, and there is a lack of mutual awareness as well.
Our standard model has been to support local chapters, communities of HCI folks that meet in their own geographic region (a city, state, or country) and are officially attached to SIGCHI. In the past we could provide these chapters with several goodies: CHI conference tutorials, full sets of tutorial notes, and free subscriptions to the paper bulletin. These perks are gone, and some chapters no longer see convincing reasons to stay connected, even if they are still part of the HCI community. We are going to do better: Beginning with next year’s CHI conference in Austin, we will ask course instructors for permission to distribute their course materials to other members of the SIGCHI community.
Another way in which local groups can have their own identity and, at the same time, be related to us is via the new model of communities, as developed by Dan Olsen. As with local chapters, it takes just a small number of SIGCHI members to start up a community, in which other people with the same focus or special interest can participate, all while gaining organizational support from SIGCHI and visibility into its worldwide network.
At the end of last year, we decided to pick a slice of the globe where HCI seems to be growing rapidly. We invited Zhengjie Liu and John Karat to start developing a network in Southeast Asia. They helped us set up a workshop in Beijing, where SIGCHI Executive Committee members met 25 regional HCI professionals representing groups in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. For three days we worked on understanding the local types of HCI in their diverse contexts. We learned about growth and the need for connections and support, the legitimacy of HCI in science and industry, and the feasibility of collaboration with SIGCHI.
This effort continued in Vancouver the day before the CHI conference, when most of the same people met and discussed how to develop a platform for contact, support, and the preparation of stronger structures. The group also discussed how SIGCHI could enable these types of meetings and subsequent organizational development.
The CHI conference has been moving around and will continue to do so. In fact, what some people once perceived as a mainly U.S.-based meeting will be in that country only occasionally: 2011 was in Canada, 2012 will be in the U.S., 2013 in France, 2014 in Canada again, and 2015 is intended to be in Southeast Asia. We really are a traveling circus now, and our tent is a town hall. This year we actually held a town hall meeting, with lots of sensible contributions from members: free and open discussions, well-received suggestions, and comments that made us reconsider the way we operate (as well as a much-appreciated boxed lunch). The town hall will travel with us to our future CHI locations. See you there next time (Austin, Texas).
Gerrit C. van der Veer
President, ACM SIGCHI
©2011 ACM 1072-5220/11/0900 $10.00
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