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Trip Report from CHI 2006

Holly Witteman, a first timer at CHI, offers her perspectives on CHI 2006

Perspectives on CHI 2006

Some Highlights

  • CHI Madness. Listening to most of the day’s presenters make a 45 second pitch for their talk was an informative and entertaining way to begin each day. These sessions led me to attend some great presentations that I might otherwise have missed.
  • Opening Plenary Session: Scott Cook, Intuit: Creating “Game Changing” Innovation. Scott Cook is an engaging speaker who presented a convincing argument for his preferred methods of encouraging innovation, namely, listening to customers and empowering employees.
  • Panel: Institutionalizing HCI: What Do I-Schools Offer? The panel presented a variety of views on the evolving place of I-Schools (schools of information, informatics, information studies and information sciences) within universities. For the academics at the conference, it was wonderful to have a discussion about positioning HCI within academia.
  • Paper: Why Phishing Works. Rachna Dhamija, Harvard;  J. D. Tygar and Marti Hearst, University of California, Berkeley. This paper opened the Security papers session on Tuesday afternoon and provided some excellent demonstrations of how users are fooled by phishers, as well as some commentary about why they are fooled.
  • Student Volunteer Program. Participating in this program was a great way to meet other students in the CHI community and to defray the cost of attending the conference.

Good Buzz

  • Conference Reception on Monday night with performers from Cirque du Soleil, Job Fair on Tuesday night, Hospitality Events on Wednesday night and Student Volunteer Party on Thursday night. I was unable to attend any evening events, but heard from other students and conference attendees that they were well worth attending.
  • Panel: Add a Dash of Interface: Taking Mash-Ups to the Next Level. This Wednesday morning panel about consumer-friendly mash-ups was a popular session and was the topic of much discussion for the rest of the day.
  • The $200 muffin. Some students had a small bake sale during the conference to help fund their conference and travel fees. Gregory Abowd from Georgia Institute of Technology gave them a $200 cheque for a blueberry muffin.

Quotable Moments

  • “Do you ever make phone calls in your closet? Teenage girls do.” – Girls, Technology and Privacy: Is My Mother Listening? Wendy March, Intel; Constance Fleuriot, Featherhouse, UK.
  • “Especially when you’re swinging for the fences, expect no more than .500.” – Scott Cook, Intuit, on celebrating, “learning from failures.”
  • “The role of a consultant is to make themselves unnecessary.” – Susan M. Dray, consultant, Dray and Associates.
  • “Single-tasking is so 1980’s.” – Comment in slides from Maxime Beland, Ubisoft, in Expert Design Critique: XBOX 360.
  • “Intuition is often wrong and theoretical modeling can help show this.” – From the conclusions of Trackball Text Entry for People With Motor Impairments. Jacob Wobbrock and Brad Myers, Carnegie Mellon University.
  • “We could build an anti-spoof browser, but we would have to remove everything that makes the Internet rule so hard right now.” Mike Beltzner, Mozilla, in discussion following Why Phishing Works.
  • “Usability testing is the most popular usability method because it allows the usability professional to hide behind the participants.” – Joe Dumas, Bentley College, in Panel: Does Think Aloud Work? How Do We Know?


  • CogTool. Bonnie John spent some time with the student volunteers demonstrating a tool that aims to predict how a skilled user might interact with a system.
  • Peekaboom. Playing this “game with a purpose” provides valuable data to HCI researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

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