Thoughts on GROUP from a first-timer

Back in the lab from my first time at GROUP. I was there to present my work on Mobiphos, specifically this paper.

GROUP is a first-timer friendly conference. Breakfast on the first non-workshop day was held in a room with many tables. Attendees were assigned seating which immediately helps you avoid the social dilemma of "sitting at the wrong table." At the tail end of breakfast was the Madness Session. For those not familiar, a madness session is where each paper presenter gets 30-60 seconds to give a quick statement about why their presentation should be attended. This is a way to get people into your room for multi-track conferences. What I liked best about this was the informal nature. No standing in lines, no podiums, when your slide shows up, just stand up wherever you are in the room, say what you have to say and sit down. Finally, I was given a shell necklace which I was asked to wear for the rest of the conference to mark me as a first-timer. All facets of GROUP other than the paper presentations had a very informal and relaxing air, making it easy to approach people who are otherwise hard to "corner" in larger conference settings.

From a research perspective I was happy to find multiple papers from which I can draw inspiration for future work. For example: 

  1. Shared Identity Helps Partially Distributed Teams, But Distance Still Matters. Nathan Bos, Ayse Buyuktur, Judith Olson, Gary Olson, Amy Voida.
  2. Places for Lightweight Group Meetings: The Design of Come Together. Saul Greenberg, Yibo Sun.
  3. Speaking Through Text: The Influence of Real-time Text on Discourse and Usability in IM. Jacob Solomon, Mark Newman, Stephanie Teasley.
  4. Supporting Ad-hoc Replanning and Shareability at Large-Scale Events. Sarah Lindström, Mårten Pettersson.

As a presenter, I was happy with how interactive the audience was after I was done with my presentation. The limited time makes it hard to cover all of the results thus making it difficult to tell a complete story, however, the audience asked me some very interesting questions that allowed me to fill in the gaps. At the same time they avoided questions designed simply to denigrate the work. As Michael Muller later put it in the Townhall Meeting, GROUP audiences avoid "slashing attacks" and focus more on constructive questions.

I'd like to thank some of the higher-ups and fellow students with whom I had more one-on-one discussions with for their time. In no particular order:

I really hope to continue attending GROUP and having more insightful discussions.

Finally, I'd like to end with a bit of humor which I tweeted but I feel deserves to be present in a more permanent way. At the end of Jill Dimond's presentation, Mark Ackerman asked if she had any thoughts on implications her observations had for design finishing the question with "I'm of the belief that all ethnographic work should have implications for design", which got a rise out of Paul Dourish and a laugh out of the audience.