Some thoughts on the NordiCHI 2016 conference

I’m now on the train which till take me back to Stockholm, after five very rewarding days at the NordiCHI conference hosted by Chalmers. I arrived in Gothenburg already Saturday evening 22/10, since I attended a full day workshop during the Sunday which I wrote about in an earlier post. The main conference took place Tuesday – Thursday (today). Overall, it was a very well organized conference both when it comes to the paper and poster sessions and the social events. I have no intention of summing up all the parts of the conference here, but rather add some remarks about the conference as a whole. I hope this post will be clear enough, despite the fact that I managed to catch a cold during the conference dinner…

One thing that was unusual with this version of NordiCHI was that the proceedings were not handed out in a printed book. The proceedings will only be accessible online and published in the ACM digital library. I think this is was a very good idea since I guess those printed books that are usually handed out are not used much after the conference (only a few papers are relevant for each specific participant). Having the proceedings online is a much more sustainable solution.

Following the same theme, this was also the first conference I attended where the participants did not get one of those cute little bags which usually include paper, pens, proceedings, information and possibly one of those “stress balls”. There were instead stacks of folders with information which participants could pick from and place in their own bags (it’s quite unusual that participants will not show up with their own bags). Again, this is something I really liked – everyone could pick what they really needed and in that way the organizers did not need to give one version of everything to each participant. And how many uses the stress ball anyway?

The sessions (at least the ones a attended myself) were well organized and with very few exceptions the session chairs did a very good job of switching between presenters and keeping time. When it comes to overall organization I especially enjoyed the very last session about sustainability and wellness, where Jan Gulliksen was the chair. He took that role very seriously and after most of the presentations he gave his own general comment (often bringing in a slightly different context than the one the presenter used) before opening up for questions. The questions prepared in advance were also of a very high quality. This is an example that every chair should take after!

The social events, and then especially the conference dinner, were very well prepared. The food was of high quality and a music performance given by an old master’s student, based on home-made instruments, was extraordinary! Of all conference dinners I have been to during my years as a researcher this one definitely takes the first price. The get together at Kuggen was also well organized, but it was a shame there was a lot of construction work going on in the building during the conference.

The only thing I had a problem with during the conference were the length of the lunch breaks – they were 1.5 hours long. Since the food, which was of good quality, was served just outside the main lecture hall, there was almost one hour of waiting before the first afternoon session started. There were of course posters to look at, demos to try out and many people to talk to during this time, but an entire hour seemed quite a lot especially since it is possible to look at the posters also during the shorter coffee breaks.

These were just some remarks on NordiCHI 2016 as a whole. More details can be found on the conference site: I hope I will be able to attend the next version of the conference in Oslo 2018 and that it will be just as well organized as the one I just attended in Gothenburg!