Things I learned at CHI 2006 in Montreal

  • In a small community such as HCI, everyone knows everyone. This is one of the biggest examples of how the world is getting so much smaller.
  • Because I don\’t do txt msging regularly, I will always miss it when I receive one
  • Girls in their teens need privacy. Both uk and the Us. Obviously.
  • Don\’t lose your program the first day. Although if you do, make sure you find someone you know in every session to ask to borrow it.
  • As a citizen of Montreal, you are required to go to a French-speaking school if one of the parents are French. Otherwise, English. English is perceived as more useful for worldly jobs.
  • Montreal music is great – listen to Plants+Animals and Orilla Opry
  • Andrew Rose is still so awesome
  • Have a lot of business cards available (as well as resumes)
  • Ever thought about working for the department of defense? Think so now!
  • Intimacy between two lovers can be established through the use of slippers!
  • If none of the authors can make it to the conference for their paper presentation, they can always ask the primary author\’s fiancee even if she was never involved in the work. And it will be a great talk.
  • Gotta have a plan B if any technical problems arise
  • Scott McCloud knows comics. And pretty much that.
  • We all know that Georgia Tech pulled that fire alarm because they wanted to shift people from the Hyatt to the Fairmount. Right? Right.
  • Universities such as UToronto can hold (college-style) parties in a hotel room
  • If you know someone who works in the company (and you can make a sad puppy dog face), you can always get into the party even if you\’re not on the list
  • Interactive exhibits from Singapore are always so weird. Interactive chickens? Space invaders on the floor?
  • In HCI, you can really research things you enjoy. Like studying the social dynamics of WoW. Playing mobile games. Or your own life.
  • When asked a difficult question after a talk or at your poster, always answer \”Absolutely!\” or \”That\’s a great question!\”
  • Security toolbars don\’t always prevent phishing attacks. They must be well-designed and unintrusive.
  • the student design competition is still hard to figure out
  • 2$ and 1$ coins are actually quite useful
  • always crash the SV parties. because when you\’re in a room of graduate students, things can go crazy
  • people will remember the girl with blue hair and roller blades
  • i <3 coffee/tea breaks
  • i also <3 flickr
  • the best part of CHI is not the presented research, but always, always the people you meet and get to know

Back in Pittsburgh! After a nice 10 hr drive. After Niagra Falls. A summary to come! Photos! There are some outings I totally missed due to a photographer\’s anxiety.

I have about 50 more of these. Want one? Hire me?


Like last year at CHI, I meet a lot of interesting people. Although this year, surprisngly, I reconnected with people I had seen both at Berkeley, CMU and CHI 2005. People who I recognize, but don\’t know why I know them. People I must have stared at, but never talked with.

There was a David from Berkeley who I finally formally introduced myself with. Then several CMU people from non-hci depts like Mike and Rachel. Then I met a lot of people from UW as well as a number of people who worked at Yahoo and Ebay. And people who was also competing in the student design competition. They were cool.

I think I should have met more people from the industry. But hey there was one time I went out to lunch with a few professors from stanford, a guy from NSF and a guy from PARC. So at least I got that in!

Right now, I just stepped over three people\’s feet so that I could attend a talk I believed was going to be great.

I think I need to find a better way to decide on which talks I should attend. Great papers don\’t always mean great talks unfortunately.

I think I inherited the sleepy-when-sitting-for-long-periods-of-time from my dad.

He fell asleep when watching Terminator 3 after all.

I have been sleeping from 4-6 hours/night for the last week.

So I am attending these amazing talks on social slacking in online communities, classroom learning, gaming & performance, space invaders as well as panels about think-aloud protocols and design communication. Yet, after 5-10 minutes in a talk (especially after a filling lunch), I am overcome with sleepiness. So right now, I am sporadically writing to keep myself awake. And having the speaker swear a bit also will keep me awake. How embarrassing though to be struggling to stay awake during research that I like learning about. Furthermore, it would be incredibly bad form around the great hci academics and the companies that I am interviewing with.

At least, I try not to sit in the front. And that I don\’t snore. According to what my roommate says.

Because of high international roaming charges on my cell phone, I have been using txt msging to communicate with people. So this is rather common in Asia. After a few days of doing this, I just can\’t stand it. I can\’t get in touch with people right away and I can\’t trust that people will actually check their phones often enough for the sms.

Strange how we used to live in a world without cell phones. Our culture and way of living has changed completely to adopt a mindset of swarming–the idea that we\’ll figure out what we\’ll do as time and location gets closer. Planning is unnecessary. And even when a phone call costs 69 cents/minute, we still can\’t change our current ways to plan.

My first day at CHI was awesome.

Because I know people here and there, somehow the world has become so much smaller. I remember talking to a phd student last year who said he was tired of CHI, because he kept seeing the same people over and over again.

But, to me, that\’s almost the greatest part. I make friends easily across the world. And I see them once a year. Enough to make me want to return every time.

I don\’t know why, but I always have trouble sleeping in new places. At least for the first day. So I woke up today suddenly at 6:34 am after going to sleep at 1 am.

The sky outside is already bright, probably due to the higher latitudes in this part of the continent.

I am staying at Le Square Phillips in downtown Montreal. Yesterday, we arrived around 8 pm after a nearly 12 hr drive (with many rest stops). Amazingly, I didn\’t get car sick along the way even though I was working on my laptop most of the time. It was rather an interesting, productive drive.

There\’s going to be 6 of us in this two bedroom suite. It\’s incredibly huge with a full kitchen, dining table (complete with two place settings), one king sized bed, one queen sized bed and a couch pullout. An apartment like this anywhere? No way! Thank god, I decided to go with this rather than the hostel.

Today I leave for Montreal.

One month until I turn 24! OMG!

It\’s interesting how my lists have changed over the years:
� 2005 � 2004 � 2003 � 2002 �

And now I present my (pretentious) wishlist of this year:

1. presence (presence > presents!)
2. a job that provides the experience I seek
3. a trip to NYC, Boston, and Seattle this summer
4. a trip to New Zealand, Asia, or Europe
5. a chance to see great live music
6. to finish my list of things to do before leaving Pittsburgh
7. an opportunity to publish my writing
8. more webspace for my websites
9. Airport Express
10. Macbook
11. The Joy of Cooking (yes, THAT cookbook)
12. Alan Cooper\’s The Inmates Are Running the Asylum : Why High Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
13. SigCHI membership
14. more moleskine notebooks

Printing posters 3 ft x 4 ft is such a pain even though CMU SCS has attempted to make it easy. I seriously believe that there could be a better interaction (and interface) for printing.

Perhaps, the interaction should be like this:
1. transfer the document to a box or some kind of document-like object
2. set the results visually through touch and manipulation of the object
3. take that object and tap it against the printer
4. and boom magical printout!

That\’s the kind of interaction that should be used instead of the pain of drivers, networking, connections, miscommunication of the printout.

I am just complaining because yesterday when we tried to pick up the printer at 8:00 pm, nobody opened the door. Elena left two (nasty) messages. They finally called back. We asked them about their hours and they said, \”We\’re open 24 hours!\” *cough*

The CMU carnival is here! But unfortunately I am leaving for CHI in Montreal tomorrow morning. If anybody else is going to CHI, I will be participating in the student design competition with 3 other students which has its poster presentation monday evening as well as tuesday morning. Then if we get to the second round, the talk will be on Wednesday at 11:30 am. I am also presenting the poster of a works-in-progress paper with da azn bish on Wednesday morning. Find me! Although I am not sure if I want to be using my cell phone while roaming internationally…