Using Information: New Technologies, Ways & Means

A blog for people interested in contributing to the HICSS-40 minitrack on Using Information: New Technologies...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

How to Have a Great HICSS Experience

Guidance for someone used to ACM conferences

HICSS is more interdisciplinary and topically diverse than ACM conferences. With an acceptance rate of ~45%, HICSS includes both polished papers and some aimed at discussion and feedback en route to journal publication. With over a dozen parallel sessions, you can’t scan the program just before a session begins to decide what to attend. However, an hour’s preparation can yield an experience that is as consistently interesting and high quality as at ACM conferences where papers are more tightly screened by program committees. If your interests are eclectic, a HICSS experience can be better, due to the topic diversity.

Tools
The Program booklet has a high-level calendar of events, papers organized by sessions with Best Paper Nominees starred, and a list of all authors who registered early (one author for each accepted paper must register early). You also get a book of abstracts and a CD with the papers.

Method
First I mark each registered author whom I recognize, independent of their area. This takes advantage of a “fish-eye lens” effect – someone I recognize from an unrelated field is likely to be good. On the high-level calendar I mark the sessions each of their papers are in, then examine the other papers in those sessions. If a session looks interesting as a whole, I indicate that on the calendar; otherwise I just note whether the paper will be presented first, second, or third. When done with all the authors, I do the same thing for Best Paper Nominations. These papers are likely to be polished. Because of the diversity of HICSS, most of them are not of interest, but a good many individual papers and sessions look intriguing. Finally on the calendar I mark the minitrack or minitracks that have high priority. Last time that was two of the Digital Document minitracks and Kevin Crowston’s Open Source minitrack.

For almost every time period, I ended up with one to three possibilities of interest. Sometimes I attended one session for the first paper and another session for the next. Last year one session had nothing, so I talked with some people, then spent time with my accompanying family.

Conclusion
With lower selectivity, HICSS takes off the “parental controls” enforced by ACM program committees. You can’t wander into a session and expect the polished if sometimes boring quality found at CHI. But you’re given the tools to design a great conference experience. And I haven’t even mentioned the fact that with lunches and evening social events included every day, there is a huge opportunity for conversations.

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