HCDE at CSCW 2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW) was held in Portland, Oregon, from February 25 – March 1, 2017. Students and faculty from the department of Human Centered Design & Engineering are regular attendees at CSCW, where they present their latest research and participate in panels and workshops.

This year, researchers from across University of Washington's Design, Use, Build (DUB) community, of which HCDE is a member, submitted 17 papers to the conference proceedings. The HCDE team of PhD candidate Dharma Dailey and Associate Professor Kate Starbird received a "Best Paper Honorable Mention" for their paper Social Media Seamsters: Stitching Platforms & Audiences Into Local Crisis Infrastructure. See other papers submitted by UW DUB authors on the DUB website


University of Washington students and faculty at the CSCW 2017 DUB reception.

With DUB and the UW's Information School, HCDE hosted a special CSCW reception for friends and colleagues at the Commons Brewery in Portland. HCDE Associate Professor Charlotte Lee, Co-Chair for this year's conference, said that it was a great experience hosting the premier event for computer-supported cooperative work in our home region of the Pacific Northwest and it helped to highlight the UW as a dynamic, top university in CSCW and Human-Computer Interaction. 


HCDE students were among the CSCW 2017 student volunteers. Volunteer t-shirts designed by HCDE PhD student Kiley Sobel.

Human Centered Design & Engineering doctoral students share their experience at CSCW, below.

Presenting my work at this year's CSCW was a valuable experience for me. I've been learning to communicate my research in a fast-paced way that weaves the facts with some of the human values I wish to uphold like emotional intelligence, self-control and humility. The generally positive feedback I received has given me confidence that I'm on the right track, while the constructive questions I was given have told me what I need to work on next. One of the key things that helped me was the sheer amount of support I felt from people around me including my advisors, lab-mates and fellow crisis-informatics researchers.

That alongside simply getting to know more people at CSCW has translated into a feeling that of belongingness to the CSCW community. For me this culminated in a fairly moving experience when the CSCW community made a stand in solidarity with people who have been affected by recent US political actions around immigration. It's an experience I hope to hold on to and relate to younger academics in the future.

The conference itself was, as always, intellectually stimulating. Kate Starbird said it's like being at "Disneyland for academics," which I think a very apt way of describing the roller-coaster, high energy feeling of being immersed in so many intellectual ideas and conversations at once. It can be overwhelming at first, but slowly the rhythm of workshops to after-conference parties can become quite energizing once you've got more people you know.

I'm looking forward to the next CSCW and hope to have a submission ready for it soon.

Late this February, I arrived at CSCW in Portland, my first ever research conference, with the objective of soaking up as much of the available information and culture associated with social computing research as humanly possible. I attended sessions related to my work - exploring content quality, crowdworkers, distributed mentoring and education. I also attended sessions that had no relation to my current work and was introduced to entirely new areas.

A remarkable part of the CSCW conference experience is the town hall. It was interesting to hear community members voice their opinions on various topics, like what to do about moving CSCW to the Fall and whether to have an online-only publication during the 18-month stretch. The conference organizers presented a tentative deadlines (pictured above) that were met with considerable pushback from certain members.

An open topic up for discussion was whether to locate upcoming CSCW conferences in the United States, given the current political climate. One social computing researcher recounted her experience of being stuck at the US-Canada border and interrogated with no access to food or water for hours, before being unable to return to her home in the United States for over a year. As she spoke, I reflected on my recent and eventless crossing of the canadian border this January after a ski trip, a stark contrast to her tale. When she was done speaking, dozens of researchers who were impacted by the president’s quest for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” joined her on stage. Those who wished to express solidarity were asked to stand, and in a striking moment, I watched as hundreds of researchers immediately jumped to their feet. 

With the help of the CSCW Doctoral Colloquium organizers and HCDE, I was able to attend the 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2017) in nearby Portland, OR. I spent an engaging 2 days in the Doctoral Colloquium getting to know peers in similar stages of the PhD and receiving valuable feedback from senior scholars in the field. I also had great fun organizing a workshop on "Imagining Intersectional Futures: Feminist Approaches in CSCW," with Amanda Menking (UW iSchool), Stephanie Steinhardt (Cornell), Anna Lauren Hoffman (UC Berkeley), and Shaowen Bardzell (Indiana University). In the last part of the day's program, we collectively produced a zine about our time together (look out for a pdf version coming soon)! Finally, it was also a great privilege to organize a panel on "Social Justice and Design: Power and oppression in collaborative systems," which featured Jill Dimond (Sassafras), Jean Hardy (University of Michigan), Lilly Irani (UCSD) and Shaowen Bardzell as panelists, and Michael Muller (IBM) as moderator.

Stimulating is the extrovert’s word for overwhelming. While CSCW was a social and sensory overload, I came away feeling inspired by the work of others in the field. After spending a few days alone and letting the business cards settle, I found myself recalling conversations from the conference and thinking of where I fit within the conversation. Working as a student volunteer added to the experience by giving me entrance into many of the sessions as well as the chance to meet with my peers. I was excited to see my mentor and my colleagues present their research. While the sessions were instructive not only for the content, but for learning what I will be doing in a few years (as well as the types of questions the audience asks), the interactions with other scholars during happy hours, dinners, and coffee breaks was the most rewarding experience. All things considered, it was a treat to spend my 29th birthday celebrating with my colleagues and new friends at the Portland Art Museum. 

Thanks to the Department of HCDE, I was able to attend the 20th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computer (CSCW 2017) in Portland, Oregon this year! This was my first time attending CSCW. At the conference, I participated in a one-day workshop (Imagining Intersectional Futures: Feminist Approaches in CSCW ­– one of the workshop organizers was fellow PhD candidate Sarah Fox!), presented a paper (EduFeed: A Social Feed to Engage Preliterate Children in Educational Activities), and served as a student volunteer (as my design was chosen to be on the student volunteer t-shirts).

I had a great time learning about the amazing work CSCW researchers are doing; one of my favorite talks was on a paper by Drew Cingel and Anne Marie Piper called How Parents Engage Children in Tablet-Based Reading Experiences: An Exploration of Haptic Feedback). I also loved being in Portland, and getting to check out the Portland Art Museum for the conference banquet. I’m looking forward to attending CSCW again in the future!

Attending the CSCW Conference in Portland, OR, February 25-March 1 2017 was, upon reflection, a very positive experience. By the last day of the conference my opinion was slightly different--it was an (at times) overwhelming and extremely tiring event--however, as I arrived back in Seattle and thought back over the last few days, I feel I have found a community that I want to be part of and contribute to.

The CSCW community were extremely welcoming, even to a new member such as myself. I was accepted to a workshop on the Sunday before the conference, and I was extremely nervous about attending. However, by the end of that workshop I had met several well-known people within the CSCW and CHI communities, worked with two of them, made some plans for future collaboration, and identified a couple of people I would like to speak to later in the week. My advice to any first year PhD students is to apply to workshop--if you are accepted it's a great way to break the ice with a smaller group of people, and you will have others to go talk to during the coffee  breaks.

Attending the actual conference was a great way to see a variety of interesting, relevant, and at times motivational talks by established and emerging researchers. Furthermore, the events that were organized by the conference and other institutions were fun and wonderful opportunities to speak to others--students, researchers, faculty--and this sense of community has definitely had a lasting impression on me.

I very much look forward to attending the next CSCW! Unfortunately that will be in my first year since there will be no CSCW next winter quarter. But I will be submitting my first CSCW paper(s) within a few weeks.

The primary agenda behind attending CSCW 2017 was threefold- (1) attending the workshop CCCCCCR (Conceptualizing, Creating, & Controlling Constructive and Controversial Comments: A CSCW Researchathon), (2) checking the present state of research in the domain of collaborative work to identify active and well-received themes to better situate my research agenda within the cscw community, and (3) interacting with people whose research I find relevant and interesting.

It was quite eventful to have four members from (my advisor) Kate Starbird's lab participating in the CCCCCCR workshop. I was a part of the team led by Kenny Shores and Libby Hemphill for identifying harassment instances on Reddit platform by probing the instances deleted by a moderator. Our team started investigating the dataset from Professor Eric Gilbert's lab. Unfortunately, the dataset wasn't clean enough for us to run scripts for identifying any underlying patterns. Despite of this, we cleaned up the dataset and made it ready for perusal by researchers in future. We were also able to trace a few instances of harassment by classifying the deleted posts using the Reddit deletion policies. Being a first year PhD student, although I could contribute in limited capacity, it was a good learning experience to think about a research problem from the perspective of a hackathon in a limited amount of time. We have already begun shaping the ideas that we discussed in the workshop towards further research.

I focused on the second important aspect of understanding the present state of cscw research topics by attending as many relevant talks as possible. I attended most of the presentations around crowdsourcing and social computing research especially from Michael Bernstein's lab at Stanford and Eric Gilbert's lab at Gatech. Two of my favorite papers from the conference include Troll research by Justin Cheng (Stanford), and Amy Zhang's (MIT) work about summarizing discussion feeds. 

CSCW 2017 had many people with research interests that resonated with my agenda. I acquainted myself with self-reported author experiences of coming up with some research ideas that I particularly like; these include Eslami's work about folk theory of social feeds, and Tanushree's work about comparing person-vs-process centric strategies to obtain quality crowd-work data. I was quite excited to meet and hear from Nathan Matias (MIT) about his recent work on nudging Reddit algorithms for adjusting the promotion of unreliable facts. Likewise, I had interesting discussion with Anand Kulkarni about how Crowdbotics emerged from a mere idea into a new venture. 

One of the highlights from the conference included the discussion during Birds of a feather lunch program. It was quite overwhelming to hear from the experts in the community how they look upto Kate's lab for solving the problem of misinformation.