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SIGCHI Annual Report July 1997

Mike Atwood

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SIGCHI, the special interest group for computer-human interaction, has set for itself the following goals for the 1995-1997 term:

  1. increase the value and visibility of SIGCHI for its members
  2. create an environment to draw from all areas of the HCI community
  3. make SIGCHI the focal point for HCI in the world
  4. be the heart of SIGCHI members' professional network

These goals have guided our decisions during the past year and will continue to guide them during the coming year.

SIGCHI concludes this review period with 5480 members (June 1997), approximately a 5% increase over the past year. Our conferences and publications remain successful. Our finances are in excellent shape and our fund balance is well over the ACM-recommended level. We continue to define new programs that will address the goals outlined above.


The SIGCHI Bulletin continued to publish four issues of about 96 pages per issue. The publications we began in partnership with ACM also continue. Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI) is in its fourth year of publication and interactions magazine increased from four issues a year to six. About 40% of SIGCHI members subscribe to the "CHI Plus" membership plan that provides them with three conference proceedings per year. This is a slight decline from the past year. As the number of conference publications increases, we need to consider alternate plans for distributing proceedings.

The SIGCHI Bulletin is made available electronically through ( simultaneously with print copies distribution, with the most current issue being available to members only.

Special Projects

Our conference proceedings and other publications continue to be widely recognized as having a visible and significant impact on the technical community. In addition, through the efforts of our Adjunct Chair for Standards and other SIGCHI members, SIGCHI is active in various HCI standards activities such as the ANSI/HFES HCI Standards committee, ISO TC159/SC4, and ISO C159/SC4/WG5. These activities include standards on graphical user interfaces, multimedia, and accessibility for disabled computer users.

We continue to support the SIGCHI Development Fund, which allows our members to request support for activities they feel advance the field of HCI and the communication of information to SIGCHI members. This year, we awarded funds to the Development Consortium of CHI 97 which will bring people to our CHI conference who would not normally be able to attend our flagship CHI conference. For CHI 97 the focus is on professionals from "soft currency" countries. For CHI 98, the Development Consortium will support teachers of age groups 9-18 who are attempting to utilize computers as an educational tool within their classrooms. Funds were also awarded to Andrew Sears to lead an initiative to identify and disseminate HCI education resources. This initiative led to the formation of the SIGCHI Educational Resource Development Group.

For several years, SIGCHI has supported the formation of local SIGs. Interest in local activities is increasing extensively and is reflected in an explosion of inquiries and investigations from/by people around the world into local SIGs over the past year. To provide a forum for leaders of current and prospective local SIGs to exchange experiences and ideas among themselves and with other SIGCHI leaders, a meeting titled "Designing a (more and/or continually) successful chapter of ACM SIGCHI" was held at the CHI 97 conference. Subsequent collaboration and communication among local chapters and their leaders has increased because of this workshop and the active leadership of Richard Anderson, our Adjunct Chair for Local SIGs. SIGCHI's local SIGs provide ongoing benefit to their members and the field of HCI and are an area of rapid growth for SIGCHI.

Conferences and Workshops

Our flagship CHI conference was held in Atlanta this year. CSCW '96 was held in Boston. Other conferences held in 1996 in which SIGCHI was a sponsor or in-cooperation with include AVI '96, Society and the Future of Computing '96, VRST '96, UIST '96, and Participatory Design '96. Conferences for 1997 include DIS '97 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), VRST (Laussanne, Switzerland), UIST '97 (Banff, AB, Canada), The Fifth Annual ACM International Multimedia Conference (Seattle, WA, USA), IUI '98 (San Francisco, CA, USA), The Industrial Summer School on Human-centered Design of Organizational Memory Systems (St. Lary, France).


At CHI 97, six SIGCHI Distinguished Service Awards were awarded; John Bennett for his support, advice, and service on the Advisory Board; Allison Druin for her leadership of the CHIkids program; Clare-Marie Karat for her leadership of our financial operations; Gene Lynch for his leadership of our Conference Management Committee; John "Scooter" Morris for his support and leadership of our conference programs; and Gary Perlman for his leadership of our publications and electronic presence programs.


We continue the Doctoral Consortium as part of the CHI conference. The Development Consortium at CHI 97 focused on HCI professionals from soft-currency countries; the Development Consortium at CHI 98 will focus on teachers for age groups 9-18. A report from the SIGCHI Educational Resource Development Group (funded by the SIGCHI Development Fund) was prepared for distribution in the SIGCHI Bulletin. This report focuses on identifying resources that would empower educators to establish dynamic HCI curricula and degree programs; and on identifying mechanisms for the dissemination of such educational resources. "Student kits", containing information about ACM and SIGCHI, as well as recent publications, were made available to educators and students in computer science programs. The HCI Bibliography was moved to ACM machines.

International Activities

SIGCHI is a worldwide organization. As communities of HCI professionals are developed throughout the world, we find our activities continue to expand outside the U.S. We have local SIGs either operating or being formed in ten countries (Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, France, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland, United States).

Our executive vice-Chair is leading a task force to develop recommendations for actions in support of SIGCHI's internationalization efforts and to define the roles and responsibilities of an International Advisory Board. This task force currently has members from over a dozen countries and the initial issues being addressed include:

  • plan for working with cooperating societies
  • plan for international research cooperation
  • SIGCHI sponsorship of traveling tutorials
  • CHI tutorials on different research traditions
  • local SIG support
  • CFP and review guidelines
  • submission mentoring
  • Web page translation

Our elected and appointed committees include members from North America and Europe, and we hold committee meetings outside as well as within North America; our August '96 Executive Committee meeting was in Toulouse, France; our December '96 meeting was in New York City; our April '97 meeting was in Monterey, California; our August '97 Executive Committee meeting will be in Portland, Oregon; our August Conference Management Committee meeting will be in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands. Our nominations committee for the past election consisted of two members from North America, two from Europe, and one from the Pacific rim.


The trend toward multi-SIG co-sponsored conferences continues. We view this as healthy since many conference topics cut broadly across the domains of the SIGs as they are currently defined. We also view this as a challenge to understand how to effectively manage conferences with many co-sponsors.

Membership Activities

Our membership is reasonably stable, but first-year retention is very low, but comparable with other SIGs. However, we have never concentrated on membership retention and have had no major membership promotion campaigns. Last year, we initiated an extensive market research program with current members, former members, and potential members. This year, we plan to work with our Program Director to use this data to define and implement a membership retention program.

Financially, we are in excellent shape. The good news is that we are more effectively managing our conference finances. The bad news is that our volunteer leadership is too busy to carry out many of the programs that we have agreed to fund. We expect the recent appointment of a full-time Program Director will provide us with some additional resource to carry out additional programs.

Moving forward, we see three challenges. The first is how to maintain a pool of volunteers capable of leading SIGCHI. This becomes more of a challenge as our members get less and less support from employers for volunteer activities. The second is how to extend the partnership between the volunteers and the professional staff that we have actively focused on and developed over the past few years. An effective partnership between our volunteers and our professional staff is crucial to our continued success and we are evaluating ways to enhance this partnership.

The final challenge is work with the other volunteer organizations of ACM to define and implement ACM Societies. We are convinced that the status of Society is crucial if we are to be able to effectively manage our organization, attract and maintain leadership, and continue to serve the interests of our members. In addition, we believe a Society should have a dedicated professional support staff. We have worked to effect this change over the past year and will continue to do so in the future. We believe this change is in the best interest of all ACM members and all current ACM SIGs.

Equipment Purchases


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