The two main conferences that I go to were both in May this year, so May felt like a huge networking event. At CHI2012, I presented a paper on how habit explains behavior in a peer-production community and a case study about Ewhaian.com as an example of a sustainable college social network site. My colleague Dan also presented our paper on governance in a peer-production community. Aside from being busy with student volunteer duties for the conference, it was really nice to be able to re-connect with other smart people that I rarely meet in person other than at these events. The CHI community is very exciting for me because I bring in different perspectives as a social scientist and sometimes I feel that the people at CHI are more fascinated by my work than people in my own discipline. At the same time, as I am neither a computer scientist nor designer, there is a “weird” feeling of being on the far edges of the community.
Unfortunately, I did not have much time to see Austin, which was where the conference was located, but there was a local festival taking place the day before the conference that was just a couple blocks from the convention center, so I had a little taste of the quirky city. There was definitely a very vibrant live music scene, but it also felt very touristy.
ICA is completely different from CHI. The sessions- even those with prominent scholars- are less well-attended compared to CHI (perhaps because the papers being presented are not archival- there are no published proceedings) and the whole event feels like a huge reunion. I happened to meet an old colleague from the newspaper I used to work at (he graduated several years ago and is now teaching in New York) which reminded me of how small this world is. At ICA, there is a one degree of separation from Michigan State– everyone is somehow related to, or knows someone related to Michigan State, so it feels more like family.
It was a very busy conference- I had three presentations, was the chair for one session, and also had to attend presentations of co-authors and colleagues by day, and attend receptions at night. It was exhausting but I didn’t really I was tired until I got back from the conference; perhaps I was on an adrenaline rush, I felt like a Medic in StarCraft on the stimpack.
Again, I was unable to do any sight-seeing (a shame considering the Grand Canyon and Sedona were not that far away) but the Phoenix Comicon was taking place in the convention center two blocks away. The constant stream of people dressed in unique costumes was extremely amusing. I took a bunch of photos with my iPhone but accidentally wiped all the data :*(
CHI student volunteer photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/arcticpenguin/sets/72157629616351720/