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CSCW 2012 Update (Guest post by Jonathan Grudin)

January 3, 2013 Leave a comment

A guest post by Jonathan Grudin.

A summary of events since CSCW 2012 as we head toward CSCW 2013.

The publication culture of computer science received unparalleled attention in 2012. Experiments in conference reviewing and a new ACM policy signal that past approaches aren’t seen to be working well. Some changes are more radical than the CSCW 2012 revision cycle, which has been used in at least four other conferences such as SIGMOD.

How is CSCW 2012 looking? Downloads and citations are imperfect measures of impact, but they are the available lamppost. ACM’s CSCW 2012 downloads exceed 25,000, more than CSCW 2011 has accumulated over two years or CSCW 2010 over three years. This is a dramatic increase in conference impact. (In comparison, CHI 2012 has about half as many downloads as CHI 2011.)

Citations accumulate more heavily in the second and third years after a conference. That said, there are now five times as many ACM-recorded CSCW 2012 citations as CSCW 2011 citations a year ago (with a higher per-paper citation rate than CHI 2012, though the latter was a couple months later). In a couple years, frequency distributions will provide a more nuanced sense of the effects of doubling the CSCW acceptance rate to 40%.

A panel at the biennial Computing Research Association conference at Snowbird discussed conference-journal and open access issues. In November, 30 senior researchers attended an invited three-day Dagstuhl workshop on the same issues. ACM released a policy aimed at preventing certain kinds of conference-journal hybrids and encouraging others. CACM published many commentaries on these topics, including one this month by Gloria Mark, John Riedl, and me that describes CSCW 2012 and other experiments. I have an essay in the current Interactions that suggests an evolutionary biology analogy. Links to all this stuff are below.

Some core CS areas can experiment more easily than SIGCHI because their prestigious conferences are smaller and they have members who like building tools. At Snowbird and Dagstuhl there was appreciation for the CSCW 2012 experiment and negligible concern for acceptance rates. Some conferences maintain low acceptance rates primarily to maintain a single track conference; their organizers realize that they reject high quality work, at a price. My view is that low conference acceptance rates are a cancer with a higher mortality rate than most of us survivors realize, but not all of our community agrees.

I hope to see you in San Antonio. — Jonathan

Below are links to event materials and documents. The first two papers will be freely accessible at http://research.microsoft.com/~jgrudin/ when ACM Author-izer permits, in about a month.

Conference-journal hybrids. Grudin, J., Mark, G. & Riedl, J. January 2013 CACM. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2398356.2398371

Journal-conference interaction and the competitive exclusion principle. Grudin, J. Jan-Feb 2013 Interactions. http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2405716.2405732

Snowbird panel (6/24/2012) on publication models in computing research. http://www.cra.org/events/snowbird-2012/

Dagstuhl workshop (11/2012) on the publication culture of computing research.  http://www.dagstuhl.de/12452

List of CACM articles with links (2009-2013) on publication issues, and other resources. http://research.microsoft.com/~jgrudin/CACMviews.pdf

2012 ACM policy on conference and journal reviewing practices. http://www.acm.org/sigs/volunteer_resources/conference_manual/acm-policy-on-the-publication-of-conference-proceedings-in-acm-journals

Categories: academia, conferences, CSCW

“Zones of Domination”

December 4, 2010 1 comment

In 2000, science fiction author Neal Stephenson gave an inspiring talk at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP) conference. He entitled it “Zones of Domination.”  In the talk, he told the story of a whistleblower at the Hanford Nuclear Reactor. In the “big brother” model of authority, there is one entity and it is irredeemably evil. In Stephenson’s story, he followed our heroic whistleblower as forces from one federal government agency tried to frighten and falsely entrap him, but then the police and courts (local and federal) helped him resist and prevail. Stephenson’s point is that there is not one authority, but many. None are irredeemably evil. And the interesting activity is in the areas of overlap.

Roger Clarke posted some notes on the talk. He summarizes:

Big Brother Threat Model	The Domination Systems Threat Model

one threat			many threats
all-encompassing		has edges
personalised			impersonal
abstract			concrete
rare				ubiquitous
fictional			empirical
centralised			networked
20th century			21st century
irredeemable			redeemable
apocalyptic			realistic

(Roger Clarke, http://www.rogerclarke.com/DV/NotesCFP2K.html#Steph, 2000)

In much of the rhetoric about the Wikileaks incident, it seems to me that people are using a naive “Big Brother” model of government. The Government is one thing, and it is irredeemably evil. We can come to a more nuanced understanding of the situation by adopting a Zones of Domination model. There is not one univocal government–there are many interacting entities. None are irredeemable. The enemy is bureaucracy and opacity. The key to achieving just ends is increasing accountability and transparency within and between branches of government.

In the end, what we have is the hardest research problem in Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) one could imagine. And the most important. How do we increase transparency within and between branches of government? How do we do that and at the same time keep sensitive information secure? The presence of the Bradley Manning’s of the world makes this critical problem orders of magnitude harder.

Categories: CSCW, ethics, privacy
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