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Reflections on UIST 2004

Attending ACM's User Interface Software and Technology Conference 2004: A First Experience.

A First Experience

Attending ACM's User Interface Software and Technology Conference 2004: A First Experience

The Seventeenth Annual ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology (UIST) was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, October 24 - 27. UIST is an important forum for researchers to gather and discuss innovations in software and technology of human-computer interfaces. UIST this year was particularly important for me for an entirely different reason - it was the first major conference that I attended as a graduate student.

Both artsy and comfortable, the Historical District of Santa Fe provided an excellent venue for the conference. The brown adobe architecture and the local food (especially fajitas from the trucks in Santa Fe Plaza) provided a great change of pace, scenery and flavor for me.

After quickly leaving my things in the hotel room and registering, I was ready to mingle. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights at the conference was the opportunity to catch up with friends and to meet other researchers. Besides spending time with friends from Berkeley, I had the opportunity to meet many interesting researchers from around the world. After the conference, I agree with those who say that networking and talking to friends are the most important parts of going to conferences.

Since UIST is an innovative research forum, I expected the presentations to spark many interesting ideas. UIST did not disappoint. From the opening plenary to the presentations to the demos, I was bombarded with both interesting ideas and new insights into what it means to conduct research in the field of human-computer interaction. I found the CrossY [1] and SHARK2 [2] talks to be particularly interesting. Both were on input techniques for pen-based computers, a field that I am not very familiar with. However, I got a Tablet pc just days prior to the conference and had begun to realize the difficulty of navigating and inputting characters with a stylus. The crossing interaction demonstrated by CrossY and the gesture on keyboard input technique from SHARK2 appear to be something that can really help me with my usage of the tablet.

Possibly because this was my first UIST experience, I also found the Town Meeting discussion to be quite interesting. Some of the issues, as I later heard, had been brought up before. However, it was interesting for me to hear what the community was thinking about in terms of ways to improve the forum. One person asked that physical prototypes be allowed to accompany paper submissions, a suggestion I found interesting. Another person recommended that UIST videos be available online.

When the conference ended, I was both sad and excited. I was sad to say goodbye to friends, but at the same time, I was excited to head back and apply some of the new ideas to my research. All in all, my first UIST experience was educational and positive and I strongly encourage anyone who has not yet gone to UIST to experience this intimate and innovative forum.

1. Apitz, G. and F. Guimbretière. CrossY: A Crossing-Based Drawing Application. Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, 2004, 3-12.

2. Kristensson, P. and S. Zhai. SHARK2: A Large Vocabulary Shorthand Writing System for Pen-based Computers. Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology, 2004, 43-52.


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