Commentary: Democratizing SIGCHI
Editorial from the SIGCHI Bulletin editor on the need to improve the SIGCHI organization. This editorial specifically discusses the need to make SIGCHI more responsive to its members.
It has been said that SIGCHI is an aloof organization where the decision process is hardly democratic: one may ask how can this be? The reality of the situation is that SIGCHI is made up of a membership of around 5,000 people. To make the organization and conferences possible, 100's of our members volunteer 100's of man-years in time to keep our operations and conferences working. There is quite a significant widespread involvement by members in SIGCHI. So what's the problem?
The problem is we need more and deeper involvement by more members. The barrier to this happening is a lack of communication between the organization and our valued membership. Nothing defeats a democratic organization more than a lack of communication. To address this lack of communication we changed the SIGCHI Bulletin into the communication channel between the SIGCHI organization and its members.
This new e-mail bulletin format has allows direct communication with the SIGCHI officers and volunteers directly to the membership. Indeed in this issue you can learn a lot about the latest developments and issues confronting SIGCHI. But this is the last e-mail version of the SIGCHI Bulletin. Because starting next issue, you will be able to not just receive direct communication from SIGCHI, but also participate in the debate and decision making process via a web site dedicated to the SIGCHI E-Bulletin. Starting next issue you will receive an email outlining a brief overview of the available articles and can link to the articles on the web site.
Want your voice heard? Respond to the article by posting a reaction via new discussion links. As in this issue, the most recent EC minutes will be on every issue so you can see what issues are being discussed even if there is not an article about them. Starting next issue you can directly pose questions and suggestions to this and any other article in the E-Bulletin. This functionality may be simple but it can be very powerful, if you use it. As need arises we will be updating and enriching the site based on your usage and feedback.
In many ways this puts the pressure on the EC to communicate what they are doing. They will be accountable for whether they communicate to the membership or not. However, the members are now equally responsible for their participation in SIGCHI. SIGCHI can only survive with your involvement.
If you care about a certain topic in SIGCHI you can certainly make your voice heard either in discussion sections about articles, or by writing your own. Just remember the SIGCHI Bulletin is for articles about the SIGCHI organization, whereas articles about HCI practice should be submitted to interactions magazine.