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XXV.4 July - August 2018
Page: 79
Digital Citation

GrCHI: Human-computer interaction set in rich heritage

Maria Roussou, Nikolaos Avouris, George Lepouras, Tuomo Kujala

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The Greece ACM SIGCHI chapter (GrCHI) is the only ACM professional chapter in Greece. Established in September 2008, our activities kicked off the following year with the HCI Theory and Practice of Design workshop, organized with IFIP TC13 and the Greek Computer Society. The event boasted a roster of international speakers, including Alan Dix, Jan Gulliksen, Joaquim Jorge, Janet Wesson, Julio Abascal, and Cecília Sikné Lányi.

Since then, we've been organizing networking gatherings and events each year, usually in conjunction with local and international conferences. Our most notable annual event is linked to World Usability Day. Usually two days long, it's co-organized with the Laboratory of New Technologies in Communication, Education, and the Mass Media of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (UoA NTLab). Our events take on different flavors depending on each year's theme; in 2010, an audience of more than 100 participants attended the Usability of Financial Systems event, with presentations from industry and academia focusing on information visualization. In 2011, for Education: Designing for Social Change, we gave the floor to 20 graduate and undergraduate students from eight different universities to present their theses.

We have also been honored to host events with inspirational speakers by leveraging the ACM Distinguished Speakers program. Gregory Abowd was the first speaker to come to Greece as an ACM Distinguished Speaker in 2013. His two talks, across two days—"Computing and Autism: How a Real Problem Drives Computing Research," and "Ubiquitous Computing and Health"—highlighted the Healthcare: Collaborating for Better Systems event, inspiring attendees who represented a broad range of fields beyond HCI. Alain Chesnais followed in 2014 with a talk on "Real Time Predictive Analytics for Social Media." In 2015, Alan Dix was back to engage us on the topic of long-term engagement.

A significant initiative of GrCHI is the recent establishment of a national Usability Observatory, which aims to pinpoint the shortcomings of public-service websites and products while offering best-practice usability and accessibility guidelines.

A unique area of activity for GrCHI has flourished in the context of our treasured surroundings: Our country's rich archeological and cultural heritage means that much of the HCI work done here explores techniques and applications that aim to enhance UX and visitor interaction with digitized cultural collections. Recently completed or ongoing research projects in digital storytelling (e.g., EU-funded H2020 EMOTIVE, the FP7 CHESS project with the world-renowned Acropolis Museum), cross-cultural connections and interpretations (e.g., H2020 CrossCult), and facilitating visually impaired visitors in museums, among others, all involve active members of the chapter.

GrCHI currently has around 100 members, a reasonable number for a small country, but not ideal. Our members are quite dispersed, spread among both urban and mountainous regions, and of course our numerous islands. There are no membership fees and our events are all free to the public. Organizing chapter events on a shoestring and convening in general are always challenges, as is the limited industrial involvement—very few businesses practice HCI methods in Greece. Nevertheless, the multitude of research projects and applications being developed that draw from the unique setting of our region's past lend HCI in Greece a bright outlook for the future.

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Maria Roussou is an assistant professor in interactive systems at the University of Athens. She has been working with immersive virtual reality and its applications in education and culture since the early '90s, and has been the chair of the Greece ACM SIGCHI chapter since 2011. [email protected]

Nikolaos Avouris is a professor of software technology and human-computer interaction and leader of the HCI Group at the University of Patras in Greece. One of the founding members of the Greece ACM SIGCHI chapter, he currently serves as the vice chair. [email protected]

George Lepouras is a professor in human-computer interaction at the University of Peloponnese. He is a senior member of ACM and has served Greek ACM SIGCHI from various positions since its establishment. [email protected]

Tuomo Kujala is ACM SIGCHI vice president for local chapters. [email protected]

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The Digital Library is published by the Association for Computing Machinery. Copyright © 2018 ACM, Inc.

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