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You are here: Home 1997 Vol. 29 No. 4, October 1997 Columns Local SIGs: Coming Together & Learning from Each Other
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Local SIGs: Coming Together & Learning from Each Other

Richard Anderson

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How does one "design" a local SIGCHI chapter? How can you make your local chapter more successful or sustain its present level of success? What should your local chapter be doing? What will solve your local chapter's problems? To what do you need to attend if you are hoping to start a local chapter?

The opportunity to explore and generate answers to these and related questions drew representatives of numerous chartered and prospective chapters to a full day meeting at CHI 97 entitled, "Designing a (More and/or Continually) Successful Local Chapter of ACM SIGCHI".

"But the Model of `Local Chapter as Social Organization' Doesn't Apply in Our Case"

The above paraphrase of some input from IHM Toulouse representative David Novick communicates an important flavor of the day's interaction. Revelation of and discussion about the many differences that exist among local chapters, their past efforts, and their constituencies helped workshop participants understand what might and might not contribute to their own chapters' success.

Led on a tour of key issues by SIGCHI's Local SIGs Chair, workshop participants described details specific to their own situations and, both as a large group and in small group sessions, further analyzed issues and generated ideas about how to solve different chapters' problems.

Issues Examined

Issues examined included:

  • key elements of the "social design" of a local SIG
    Guided by analyses of numerous organizations, we looked at what it takes to build a sustained and appropriately focused community. (See the April '97 Local SIGs column for more on this topic.)
  • ways of fitting into and creating a culture
    We looked at the influence of culture -- the culture of a chapter's constituency and the culture of the chapter. (See the January '97 Local SIGs column for more on this topic.)
  • the activities, services, membership benefits, ... of a local SIG
    What do/should/might local SIGs offer, and how do/should/might they do this? What should local SIGs not offer?
  • ways to "run" a local SIG
    We looked at components of local SIG administration, including election of officers, the steering committee, soliciting and keeping volunteers, the kinds of records of value to a local SIG, becoming and remaining chartered, ...
  • dealing with change
    We looked at examples of change that affect, or should affect, local SIGs. (See the July '97 Local SIGs column for more on this topic.)
  • reaching and being reached by your target audience
    In what ways can you publicize your chapter and its offerings? In what ways should you, chapter information, and chapter activities be accessible?
  • the relationship between your local SIG and: 1) ACM; 2) SIGCHI; 3) other local chapters; 4) other organizations
    What can/should/might your local chapter get from and give to its relatives and potential relatives?

The day's collaboration produced a better understanding of factors that influence a chapter's success along with a multitude of ideas on how to design or alter the design of existing and future chapters.

Continuing the Collaboration

The day's collaboration also began collaboration among local chapters that has continued to this day. And the stage is set for its further continuation and expansion.

The meeting's output is being shared with chapters unable to participate at CHI 97; workshops are planned for future CHI conferences; other working get-togethers -- some in person and some in cyberspace -- are either underway or lie ahead; ...

The rapid increase of local SIGCHI activities around the world reveals a rapid increase in their importance. Hence, we will build upon this biggest step yet in achieving a "coming together and learning from each other" to achieve even greater interaction, understanding, collaboration, and support.

Workshop Participants

Many, many thanks to all who participated in the workshop.

Chartered Chapters

Ottawa, Canada (CapCHI): Norman G. Vinson
Toronto region, Canada (ToRCHI): William Hunt
Toulouse, France (IHM Toulouse): David G. Novick
Italy (Italy SIGCHI): Maria Francesca Costabile
Moscow, Russia (MosCHI): Victor Kaptelinin
Greater Boston, MA USA (GB/SIGCHI): Dan Workman
Los Angeles, CA USA (LA SIGCHI): Sandra L. Newsome
NC Triangle, USA (TriCHI): Diane E. Wilson
Northern Utah, USA (NUCHI): Julie T. Daily
Puget Sound, WA USA (PSSIGCHI): W. Joseph (Joey) King
San Francisco Bay Area, CA USA (BayCHI): Donald R. (Don) Patterson

Prospective chapters

France: Michel Beaudouin-Lafon
The Netherlands: Eddy Boeve
Switzerland: Patrick Steiger
Austin, TX USA: Amanda McCoy & Perry Arnold
Central Iowa, USA: Lisa Dieken
Kansas City, MO USA (KC-CHI): Alp Tiritoglu & Richard Branham
St. Louis, MO USA: Joe Grant

At-large

Wendy E. Mackay

Local SIGs Chair

Richard I. Anderson

ACM Program Director, Local Activities

Lina Iacarrino

SIGCHI Chair

Mike Atwood

This workshop was sponsored by ACM and ACM SIGCHI.

And What About the Fabled CHI Conference Challenge?

A CHI conference challenge to various "Atlanta Olympic-like" competitions was issued this year by Marilyn Mantei (who else?) in the name of ToRCHI, the Toronto Region chapter. However, the usual debate over the challenge winner is this year accompanied by a puzzling debate over whether the challenge even occurred.

Of course, those "in the know" certainly know which Local SIG won (or would have won, as the case may be). ;-)

As the Local SIGs workshop participants know, a "coming together and `playing' with each other" -- as one might describe our enjoyable dinner the evening preceding the workshop -- is an important part of a "coming together and `learning' from each other".

Richard I. Anderson
Local SIGs Chair
rianderson@acm.org

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