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XXX.4 July - August 2023
Page: 66
Digital Citation


Neha Kumar, Andrew Kun

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The #reCHInnecting was real. CHI this year saw 3,888 attendees on-site in Hamburg, Germany, with another 782 online, representing 79 countries in total, according to numbers shared by General Chairs Albrecht Schmidt and Kaisa Väänänen at the opening plenary. The diversity across the conference was a delight to behold, as was the warmth that emanated from first-time and nth-time CHI attendees alike, with many of them seeing friends and colleagues for the first time after extended periods of online interactions.

CHI is the flagship conference that brings the SIGCHI community together. Connecting virtually has become second nature to many of us, ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started to shape our lives, but in-person, on-site connection remains a joyful endeavor, as many of us found at this conference. For the SIGCHI Executive Committee (EC) in particular, CHI is a nice marker of the end—and thus also the beginning—of a year of dedicated service to this vibrant community.

Members of the EC were on their toes throughout the week of CHI, as they focused on engaging with the SIGCHI community, listening carefully for pain points and noting just as carefully our successes. The SIGCHI Welcome Reception on Sunday evening offered a festive start. Live music by Abby Vogue and the SIGCHI Bingo created a relaxing environment where attendees could mingle with friends and strangers alike. The Bingo game invited CHI attendees to recognize the many volunteering roles that exist across SIGCHI, in appreciation of the effort that volunteers put in throughout the year to keep the organization running, and to more comfortably break the ice. We think it helped! We especially appreciate the dedicated efforts of Ignacio Avellino (first prize) and ACM President Yannis Ioannidis (second prize) in participating.

We are committed to working toward a SIGCHI that is safe for every member of our community.

For the EC, this CHI was very much about renewing our outreach efforts. We distributed SIGCHI tshirts to our volunteers as a way of saying thanks for "doin' the work!" We held Equity Office Hours and introduced first-timers at CHI (and some second- and third-timers too) to volunteering opportunities with SIGCHI. Our Sustainability Committee gave out stickers to bring the carbon emissions that conference travel entailed to attendees' attention. And as we did all of the above and got to know our community better, our CARES representatives remained on duty throughout, responding to concerns raised on account of unwelcome behaviors by some community members. These served as a somber reminder that safety remains our highest priority, and we are committed to working toward a SIGCHI that is safe for every member of our community. There will be more developments on this soon, and we hope we can count on you to help.

ins01.gif SIGCHI EC members at CHI 2023. From left: Kash Todi, Catia Prandi, Abhinav Thukral, Naveena Karusala, Hao-Chuan Wang, Katta Spiel, Naomi Yamashita, Nic Bidwell, Matt Jones, Adriana Vivacqua, Simone Kriglstein, Neha Kumar, Andrew Kun, Pejman Mirza-Babaei, and Susanne Boll.

Throughout the week of CHI, multiple SIGCHI Awards sessions highlighted the accomplishments of noteworthy members of our community, seeking to chart the future even as they celebrated the past. We organized panels featuring the SIGCHI Academy inductees, Societal Impact awardees, and the Outstanding Dissertation Award winners. A full auditorium listened with rapt attention as Gregory Abowd presented his Lifetime Research Award talk, and enjoyed the hybrid fireside chat between Loren Terveen and Elizabeth Churchill, our Lifetime Service Award winners, and Geraldine Fitzpatrick and Aaron Quigley. We typically also host a Lifetime Practice Award talk, but this year's awardee, Deborah J. Mayhew, was unable to join us. Wednesday night at CHI featured an awards dinner for new and past awardees, which we livestreamed for the second year now, to accommodate virtual participation by friends and families of the awardees.

On Tuesday we organized a lunchtime SIGCHI panel, moderated by Adrian Friday, on sustainability in/and HCI, with panelists who have also engaged on this topic in various capacities: Kathrin Gehrling, Jason Jacques, Ann Light, Matthew Mauriello, Gözel Shakeri, and Robert Soden. Sustainability—how we research it and how we practice it—is of growing concern across our community, and the EC was keen to make space for conversations covering a broad set of topics, highlighting how the implications of HCI regarding sustainability are wide-ranging. We have created a mailing list for friends of the Sustainability Committee and invite you to subscribe by emailing [email protected] if you are interested in participating in the ongoing conversation.

Wednesday's lunch session featured the SIGCHI Town Hall, starting with Yannis Ioannidis, who shared his vision for "ACM 4.0." ACM is in the process of setting up task forces to target a more global presence, greater career stage diversity across its ranks, a review of its bylaws, and more. SIGCHI, as one of ACM's largest and most active SIGs in terms of members and conferences, annual budgets, and SIG initiatives, will remain in communication with ACM leadership to offer input and leadership across these areas.

The EC ran two SIGs as well: one on improving our understanding of hybrid conference programming and the other on growing our global presence. The lessons from these SIGs will help shape EC priorities for months to come, as we emphasize the importance of distributing our conferences and seeking participation from HCI communities around the world, as well as ensuring that this participation can be sustained through robust hybrid formats. We continued these conversations at our Chapters and Regions Breakfast and the meet-and-greet for conference leaders, both events that we hope to organize at future CHIs as well.

Ours is a rich and active community, and we are honored to lead it. We are thankful to the CHI 2023 leaders who created such a wonderful atmosphere at this year's conference, and look forward to many more occasions for joyful celebrations and engagements in the safe and welcoming environments we build together as SIGCHI. As always, our doors are open, and we invite you to volunteer and contribute. Auf wiedersehen, SIGCHI!

back to top  Acknowledgments

Many thanks to the CHI organizing and steering committees for the wonderful conference, all EC members who supported the events above like rock stars, Jillian Skelly for her superhuman project-management skills, and Simon Robinson for designing the Bingo for us on very short notice.

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Neha Kumar is an associate professor at Georgia Tech, where she works at the intersection of human-centered computing and global development. Her research engages feminist perspectives and assets-based approaches toward the design of technologies for and with underserved communities. She currently serves as SIGCHI president. [email protected]

Andrew Kun is a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of New Hampshire. He focuses on emerging trends in human-computer interaction for work. He currently serves as SIGCHI executive vice president. [email protected]

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