SIGCHI Annual Report

July 2002 - June 2003
Submitted by: Joseph A. Konstan, Chair

This has been another year of great challenges for SIGCHI. The organization has stepped up to its challenges, however, and is building a stronger and leaner SIGCHI to take forward.

SIGCHI realizes that the core of its organization is its steady membership, its activity in chapters worldwide, its strong and diverse set of conferences, and the content that it publishes in its conference proceedings, TOCHI, interactions, and in the ACM DL. We have been moving to enhance and build on those core strengths.

CHI 2003, while suffering from the same attendance issues plaguing almost all conferences this year, was a successful conference with a strong technical program, including a highly selective papers program. 2003 also saw the introduction of a new conference, DUX (Designing the User Experience), co-sponsored with SIGGRAPH and AIGA. SIGCHI also had successful offerings in the continuing series of DIS, UIST, IUI, and CSCW conferences, as well as our other specialized conferences. SIGCHI works to keep a high quality bar on all of its conferences and place the proceedings from all those conferences into the Digital Library - two reasons why SIGCHI's contributions to the DL are the most frequently downloaded of any ACM SIG.

At the CHI conference this year we presented the latest recipients of the SIGCHI awards, including the SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award (John Carroll), the SIGCHI Lifetime Service Award (Lorraine Borman), and five new inductees into the CHI Academy (Thomas Green, James Hollan, Robert Kraut, Gary Olson, and Peter Polson).

SIGCHI continues to make progress on publications issues. This year, we have been working with the ACM Publications Board to investigate integration of video material into the ACM Digital Library. We also have moved our bi-monthly newsletter, the SIGCHI Bulletin, online and are integrating it more closely with the SIGCHI web site to remove duplicative efforts. The term for the current editor of TOCHI is nearing its end, and we have a committee actively working towards a recommendation for a new TOCHI editor. We are also participating in ACM's forthcoming Pubs Board review of interactions magazine--a magazine we continue to provide as a membership benefit to all SIGCHI members--and our volunteers continue to work hard to develop and edit content for interactions.

Additionally, we continue to develop and benefit from our aggressive chapters program. SIGCHI has more than 60 chapters in 30 countries on 5 continents. These chapters vary widely, from large regional and national chapters with hundreds of members and frequent meetings, to smaller chapters with more informal structures.

Still, there are serious issues that SIGCHI faces. As our newly-elected executive committee starts its work, it is focusing on six key issues:

1. The CHI Conference. As mentioned earlier, the attendance at our flagship CHI conference has dropped significantly in the past two years, resulting in significant financial losses. In turn this has depleted the surplus in the SIGCHI reserve fund balance. To address this, we have worked closely with ACM headquarters staff to re-engineer our conference planning to meet the lowered expected attendance without losing money, and the SIGCHI Executive Committee has slashed many customary expenses to stem any further losses. We are also looking at how our broader portfolio of conferences interacts with CHI conference attendance, and how they collectively can best serve our members and the field.

2. Membership Communications. In addition to the E-Bulletin and interactions issues described above, we are working more broadly to examine both how we reach our members, and how our members can in turn respond and discuss issues of importance. We are investing significant effort into web-based interactive discussion fora that we hope will create a closer tie between SIGCHI's membership and its elected leadership.

3. Volunteers. The troubled economy has made it difficult in some cases to locate a healthy supply of volunteers to maintain SIGCHI's activities. In addition, we must frankly admit that in the past we've been less-than-successful in recruiting, managing, and rewarding our volunteers. SIGCHI is responding in two ways. First, we are instituting a new focus on volunteer recruitment, development, and retention; second, we have submitted a set of bylaws changes which streamline some activities and give us more flexibility around how we organize our volunteer positions.

4. Publications. We are undertaking an evaluation of the CHI Letters experiment for branding archival conference publications. The SIGCHI Publications Board will explore the effectiveness of the CHI Letters brand, evaluate alternative mechanisms for achieving the same goal (better recognition for academics who are usually judged only by journal papers), and recommend (in collaboration with the ACM Pubs Board) the direction for future recognition of archival conference publications.

5. Local Chapters. With the tremendous success of our chapters program in providing regional opportunities for professional networking and interaction, we recognize that we need to build closer ties between those chapters and SIGCHI, and among those chapters. We are already developing a Concil of Chapters to formally address chapter issues within SIGCHI. We also are exploring methods of providing greater services to chapter members and of helping chapters more effectively contribute their expertise and energy to SIGCHI goals.

6. Financial Prudence. We are in a financially difficult time for SIGCHI. Each activity we undertake requires a careful evaluation of the costs involved and the benefits to our organization and our membership. We are already spending very conservatively, and will continue to implement plans to restore a balance to SIGCHI that will permit us to undertake larger investments in the future.

We are optimistic for the future of SIGCHI. Our steady membership and popular technical content tells us hat there is a strong demand for our area of focus, and we have taken steps to weather out the short-term issues and maintain long-term viability of the organization.

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