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Czechoslovakia CHI

An interview with Pavel Slavik, Chair, Czechoslovakia CHI

Pavel Slavik describes HCI activities in the Czech Republic

  1. Can you give us some background about the state of HCI in Czechoslovakia?
  2. HCI activities in the Czech Republic are mostly linked with specific areas like computer graphics, speech communication etc. There exists couple of research groups in the country – mostly at universities. Speaking about companies – there are two distinguished examples: IBM with its speech communication research centre and Sun Microsystem with its usability research unit. Besides that there are a couple of university courses at universities in the country dealing with specific aspects of human-computer interaction (graphics, speech and also the “pure HCI topics”).

  3. When was the local CHI formed?
  4. The Local SIG was chartered in 1998.

  5. Are their other similar associations that are also very popular?
  6. No, this is the only association of its kind.

  7. How many HCI professionals are there are in Czechoslovakia?
  8. The number depends on the definition of HCI professional. When speaking about professionals who have some kind of qualification in the field of HCI (and not dealing with purely technical and implementation issues in the field of graphics etc.) then the number could be 30-40. These people work both at universities and also in the two companies mentioned above.

  9. Are their specialized HCI programes in the universities?
  10. There are some courses dealing with HCI topics. Mostly they deal with implementation issues and with some tools for UI implementation. Theory of HCI is taught (in my knowledge) at the university where I work (I have no information about similar courses at other universities) - Czech Technical University in Prague. We have two courses dealing with formal, cognitive, usability and accessibility issues.

  11. Can u tell us about the activities of the local chapter?
  12. Czech SIGCHI has been an organizer or co-organizer of several events during the past few years. The first type of these events was dedicated to multimedia and virtual reality. The second type was dedicated to distance education, which has growing importance in the Czech Republic (indeed, these events are now organized on a regular basis).

    The largest event of this type is an annual conference where teachers from basic and high schools gather together to discuss topics and experiences concerning the use of modern information technologies in education (including experience with the usability of the software used) . A special emphasis has been put on the use of distance education methods. A very important fact is that the number of participants is about 200. In this way, it is ensured that the information is distributed into every area of the country.

    From this point of view, this activity has been the most successful activity performed within the framework of the Local SIG. The schemes used should be applied to other HCI areas as well.

    Another very important activity concerns the cooperation between the Czech ACM Chapter - where Czech SIGCHI plays an important role - and governmental institutions. In 2000, a representative of the Czech ACM Chapter became a member of the Forum for Information Society, which is a governmental institution. This representative is responsible for topics in the field of distance education and life long learning.

  13. How many members do you have?

    The number of formal members is rather small – up to 10. Number of people who participate in various activities (workshops, meetings) is much higher (up to 100 – but the frequency of these events is low – once – twice a year).

  14. Do you have students interested in CHI activities?
  15. Yes – we integrate students in various HCI activities – mainly in organization of events. Also abroad – occasionally we have student volunteers participating in CHI conferences.

  16. Where do you all meet?
  17. In various places – where meetings and workshop take place. We do not have regular group meetings , something that I feel should be improved. We keep in touch using email.

  18. Do you have local industry and academic sponsorship for CHI activities?
  19. Yes – in cooperation with Sun Microsystem we established in the last month brand new usability lab (the first one in the country).

  20. How will the local SIG chapter help HCI professionals in Czechoslovakia?
  21. This is still pending issue – integration of local HCI professionals. We hope that the usability lab will help establish links between these people.

  22. What is your vision for the local CHI, in 5 years from now?
  23. Organization of activities that will spread the information about HCI among computer science professionals in the country.

Publications with more information about HCI activities in the Czech Republic:

HCI Research in the Czech Republic
2003, Matoušek V., Slavík P.
In: Human-Computer Interaction INTERACT '03. Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2003, s. 1085-1086. ISBN 1-58603-363-8.

HCI Education in the Czech Republic
2003, Matoušek V., Slavík P.
In: Human-Computer Interaction INTERACT '03. Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2003, s. 1067-1068. ISBN 1-58603-363-8.

HCI in the Czech Republic
1997, Slavík P.
In: CHI 97 Extended Abstracts. New York: ACM, 1997, vol. 1, s. 47-48.

How New Local Chapters Work: The Experience of Czech SIGCHI
2001, Slavík P., Mannová B.
In: SIGCHI Bulletin. 2001, no. 1, s. 7. ISSN 0736-6906.


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