By Julie Vera, HCDE PhD student
CHI 2022 was scheduled to take place in New Orleans, LA, and online due to the ongoing pandemic. For many reasons, I chose to attend virtually. This was my first time attending an academic conference ever, so it was fun (and maybe even a little overwhelming) trying to get a sense of the social norms, especially as the format, normally in-person, had flipped to a hybrid model.
I’ve attended a handful of industry conferences online over the past two years and had a wonderful time. So, I expected far fewer problems with the audio-visual setups at CHI. Of course, there are numerous (and expected) challenges with hybrid conferences. Nevertheless, I didn’t let buggy audio feeds, late-arriving presenters, or incorrect Zoom links ruin my fun. I’m grateful that many of the successfully-recorded presentations were posted to the CHI portal for later review.
As an aside, I hope that our major conferences continue to occur in a hybrid format. We don’t often think of this option as providing further accessibility. Many more people were able to attend and interact because it was hybrid.
The Discord community, while noisy, was a fantastic way to connect with other researchers. I especially enjoyed some of the Doctoral Consortium chat sessions getting recorded for future reading! There were some great side conversations from participants in the Discord chat following each presentation and some informative Q&A about handling collaborations as a PhD student.
There were so many interesting papers this year. I think my favorite one was Coordination and Collaboration: How do Volunteer Moderators Work as a Team in Live Streaming Communities by Jie Cai and Donghee Yvette Wohn. I liked the qualitative approach and I thought the researchers pulled out some interesting insights about how moderators contribute to channel moderation standards, understand Twitch guidelines, and coordinate to form channel rules. Also interesting was Understanding Emotion Changes in Mobile Experience Sampling by Soowon Kang, et al. I’m not sure how much emotion will play into my work with online communities in the future, but it’s highly relevant to a project I’m working on now regarding TikTok and emotion.
Lastly, I enjoyed simply being able to attend this year without worrying about presenting anything. I’m learning how other researchers communicate complex ideas in a short amount of time. Overall, I was impressed with the breadth of content at CHI this year and hope to re-connect with a few folks who share my research interests. I’m looking forward to attending next year.