Last Updated: June 12th 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed many lives and impacted many people around the world, including members of the CHI community. The organisers of CHI 2021 recognise this has disrupted day to day life, interrupted research activities worldwide, impacted CHI 2020 and the family of SIGCHI conferences and introduced a large degree of stress and uncertainty with respect to future conference submission and events scheduled for 2021.
In this post we want to let you know how the CHI 2021 volunteers and organisers are responding.
Typically the organisers for a CHI conference visit the venue in the months and years leading up to CHI. A number of the general, TPC, local and other chairs have visited the venue in 2019. However, the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to most physical visits since March of 2020. The main site visit with our accessibility chairs, vendors, volunteers is now scheduled as a virtual visit on June 2020. A number of local chairs will bring dozens of people through the site remotely so we can map out the accessibility options, walking guidance, space use, catering ideas, flow etc. Over the course of 2 days, people from a dozen countries will attend remotely to visit Pacifico Yokohama to help map out the space and tasks associated with a hybrid conference event.
Hybrid Conference Model
The organisers for CHI 2021 are exploring a hybrid conference model. This would consist of a physical (aka “real-world conference”) coupled with an “online conference” event with both in-person (local) and remote delegates. CHI has already taken steps in this direction with recording some talks and streaming sessions in previous years.
For 2021 we aim to go further with the hybrid model which will allow CHI to be more inclusive and welcoming to a larger community who cannot attend in person due to travel, health, budget or other restrictions. This means supporting remote and in-person conference delegate attendance. Of course, in exploring more hybrid aspects, we aim to preserve the diversity, inclusion and accessibility of any physical event.
Any physical restrictions in place in May of 2021 will dictate how much of a physical/online event versus entirely online event will take place. SIGCHI conferences are expected to break-even, so the question of registration costs will also need to be carefully considered to ensure a viable event.
We are learning from the ACM Virtual Conferences Guide to Best Practices, ASPLOS 2020 (see CACM March 31, 2020), IEEE VR 2020, Augmented Humans 2020 and Interaction 2020. However, the CHI community is very imaginative, creative and resourceful so we welcome all your ideas, feedback and suggestions on this. If you have ideas or experience with organising on-line or hybrid events please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The organisers of CHI 2021 know that in-person user studies for validating research artefacts will be impossible to conduct in many countries and regions. However, user studies are not the only possible means of assessing a research contribution. We ask authors to consider the many ways in which the validity of your submission’s contribution can be evidenced. For papers submission, our “Guide to a Successful Submission” describes how to ensure results are valid, and importantly user studies are only one of the approaches to demonstrating validity. Members of the CHI community are actively asking the question, How to do HCI research if your users are off limits?, with pointers to resources. If you are aware of more resources in this area, please let the general chairs know so we can enhance this blog post.
CHI 2020 At CHI 2021
Some CHI 2021 tracks offer specific guidance for authors with work from 2020.
- Workshops, SIGs, Panels or Courses in 2021 ask authors if this is a re-submission of work that was accepted to CHI 2020. They note that such submissions will be given special consideration but are not automatically accepted. Importantly, a re-submission that was accepted to CHI 2020 is encouraged to update the submission taking into account the changed landscape since 2020 and the ACM Author Rights.
- The Student Game Competition chairs are exploring making space for authors of an accepted CHI 2020 Game Design Competition submission to briefly demo their game at CHI 2021.
- The interactivity program is determined to help authors display their accepted CHI2020 Interactivities that were not shown due to COVID-19 please visit the call for interactivity for more details.
However, given the limited space at the conference venue, it is difficult for us to provide opportunities for all authors from CHI 2020 to present their work at 2021. The venue for CHI 2021 was planned and has been contracted several years in advance and each year CHI receives thousands of submissions across many tracks. Fitting everything in each year is already a challenge, so doubling what is presented is not possible given the space constraints.
CHI 2021 offers authors a number of ways to publish and present work, to interact, discuss and learn, along with dedicated opportunities for students. Authors should be mindful of the different CHI 2021 deadlines and the CHI conference selection process which applies to each track.
By Yoshifumi Kitamura and Aaron Quigley, CHI 2021 General Chairs