I went to the HCIC '09 Workshop in Fraser Colorado last week. It was a really great experience. UW's dub institute was recently admitted to this member only organization and the keys to this workshop are the small size (~75 attendees), top researchers attending (about half are top/senior folks in the field and the other half are the top graduate students that their departments have chosen to send), and the sessions are 90 minutes to cover ONE paper (yes one! -- see Leysia Palen of the U. Colorado ponder The Future of HCI at left). It also includes a lot of time for informal discussion while walking, taking a break, or skiing. I hadn't been since graduate school and forgot how great a venue it is. I had great chats with lots of folks, including my own former PhD advisor (Brad Myers --on left below).
Part of the excitement of the meeting for me was to see so many of my former graduate students taking an active part in the organization (Scott Klemmer), the talks (Jason Hong), and the discussion (Mark Newman, Jeff Heer, Scott, and Jason). It was also great to see one of my current students (Jon Froehlich) take it all in and see how he might be just like these former students soon. I felt like a proud father seeing his son ski down a hill for the 1st time (which I did indeed experience with both of my sons in a major way on this trip -- nothing like a 3 year old skiing and a 7 year old challenging himself on intermediate runs!)
It was great to present my talk on Activity Based Design to this group of strong researchers. I doubt the work would have had that good of an audience had I presented at CHI or another major conference due to the parallel tracks.
Some comments and questions about HCIC. If you made the workshop more open to others, then you'd lose some of the keys to the size. If you added more talks so that more of the folks there could participate, you would lose these great 90 minute sessions that you simply don't get at conferences. I guess we shouldn't muck with it. Any ideas?