Saturday, October 25, 2008

Prospective Academic Communities and Publication Places

As a phd student who want to enter academia, it is necessary and helpful for me to identify my academic communities that I maybe part of some day.

The first community I would like to refer to is ACM Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI). Human Computer Interaction is the youngest of nine core areas of computer science as defined by the Association for Computing Machinery(ACM). This community began at 1982, and has provided a forum for the discussion of all aspectis of HCI through a series of conferences, publications, web sites, email discussion groups, and other services. My advisor Jack Carroll is the Editor-in-Chief of its journal ACM Transactions of Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI). And its annual conference ACM CHI(conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems) is the top conference in this area. It was my dream place for publication when I was in IBM but all my three submissions were rejected. The rankings I got from the reviewers were 1 (strongly reject) for the first paper, 2 (reject) for the second one, and 3 for the last one. This year I submitted another paper to it, according to this arithmetic progression, I guess it should be rated 4 and thus be accepted. :p

The Association for Information Systems (AIS) is another community I am interested in. Actually I got acquaited to this community just in this summer because I needed to distribute my online questionnaire via various HCI related mail lists. Its Special Interest Group on Human-Computer Interaction (AIS HCI) may be the one most closed to me. It is starting a transactions on HCI (THCI), which is most likely a high-quality place to publish. Probably I will submit a paper on social ties accustomized from my candidacy paper to it. It will be so cool if I can have a paper in the No. 1 Issue 1 of a high quality journal.

There is another notable community outside the USA, the community centered on the biannual European Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (ECSCW) , which was started in 1989, and committed to grounding technological development and systems design in an understanding of "the specifics of practical, situated action". The european scholars in HCI are generally more theoretical, I guess this conference may reflect some of their orientation in ethnographic study, situated action, and the like. I like such trends, I hope I can have at least one publication in it before my graduation.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Dejin Zhao is a 4th year phd student in our lab. He works on informal communication at work place. He is now studying how people use microblog and its potential impacts on collaborative work. His work involves in interdisciplinary fields such as collaborative work,  infomal communication, social networking in organization, web 2.0, and end-user programming.

He has attended four conferences including HICSS, ACM CHI, ACM CSCW, and AMCIS. He gave presentations in HICSS, AMCIS, and ACM CSCW. He was the volunteer of the ACM CHI and ACM CSCW. He is prolific in his research. He published many papers in high-quality conferences and journals including AMCIS, HICSS, VL/HCC, HCII, JSPE, AUIC, etc.

He views himself as a HCI researcher and designer of collaborative and communication technologies. He believes informal and social interactions powered by enterprise 3.0 technologies will have dramatic impacts on future of collaborative work. 

I hold some similar ideas with Dejin. I also value informal communication in collaborative work. For example, I did studies a couple of years ago on lightweight collaborations in the workplace scenarios such as project mangement, exploring how to utilize context information by supporting the ad-hoc, loosely-coupled interaction activities. 

I am also interested in and did some studies on enterprize and organization issues such as project and portfolio management, merger and acquisition, and telecommunication in international organizations when working in IBM. However, I think I focus more on social and psychological aspects. Compared with Dejin whose background is computer science, my background is psychology. So I take less technical view than him.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Advisor II: The Academic Dr. John M. Carroll

Jack Carroll is one of the founder of HCI. I think he is the best theorist in this area. Below is the introduction from SIGCHI when Jack won the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003:

"Jack is one of the pioneering thought leaders developing the intellectual foundations for HCI. His work, which ranges over philosophy, cognitive science, social science, systems theory, and design theory, is a creative integration of theory and practical methods, such as his work on scenario-based design methods. His work on the Blacksburg Electronic Village is one of the most successful and longest-running community participatory design experiments. Jack is probably the most prolific researcher in HCI - in addition to well over 300 papers, he has written and edited 14 influential books, including the just-published "HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks". Jack's multitude of contributions to our understanding of the nature and practice of HCI is profound."

Jack's influences are profound and his contributions are versatile. He proposed minimalism in information and instruction design in 1980s, which has been accepted as common knowledge now in this area. Jack also proposed senario-based design in 1990's, which has been widely accepted in application and interface design. In early 1980's when users could first know personal computer, Jack conducted a series of studies revealing that users are active and creative adventurers in learning computer. He designed instructions such as "minimal manual" and and applications such as "training wheel" to help learning. He proposed task-artifact framework in HCI. He raised a very famous and influencing debate with other two big guys Newell and Card (fathers of GOMS) on the "soft science" vs. "hard science". I think the time tells he was right. He also had a lot of establishing and penetrating work in usability engineering, design rationale, participatory design, and community informatics.

Similar with his versatile contributions, Jack's background includes mathematics, information sciences (Lehigh Univ.), psychology (Collumbia Univ.), and linguistics (MIT). He worked with the famous linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky for several years, and said the only thing he was sure there was that his interest did not lie in linguistics. Actually nobody respect Chomsky as he does. And actually he published a linguistic psychological paper in Science when he was a PhD student, which pointed out the radical problems and weak point of psychology. So he said he was not just a psychologist, but better than a psychologist.

Probably you can call Jack a psychologist, an information scientist, a linguist, or a philosopher. But he was never a computer scientist. But interestingly, he had been the head of the department of computer science in Virginia Tech for several years.

He is a very supportive academic advisor. Although he is so insightful, he is never directive to students. He said it is because when he led the legendary User Interface Institute at IBM he found other researchers usually took his temporal opinions or ideas for discussion as authoritative orders. He never push students, he just set himself as an example for the students. I like his style very much.

Jack has a lot of editorial services. He is one of the founder and the editor-in-chief of ACM Transactions on Computer- Human Interaction (TOCHI). He is in the advisory boards of International Journal of Human- Computer Studies, Human- Computer Interaction Series, Advances in Human- Computer Interaction Series, Handbook of User Interface Design, Handbook of Computer Science and Engineering, Human- Computer Interaction and Organizational Informatics, Handbook of Human-Computer Interaction, Kluwer Series in Human- Computer Interaction. He is the founding member of some of them. He is also in the editorial boards in almost 40 other famous journals in information science, cognitive science, psycholinguistics, psychology, communication, software, and the general journal Science. He teach classes such as IST 522 (HCI Theories, Models, and Frameworks) and IST 402 (Community Informatics).