About BostonCHI

ABOUT BOSTONCHI

BostonCHI is a non-profit, volunteer-only association of professionals from the New England area in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI or alternatively CHI). We are a chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) special-interest group for HCI. Our members represent HCI’s diverse interests: graphic arts, documentation, usability, psychology, user interface design, human factors, industrial design, ergonomics, computer science, training, education, and many others.

What We Do

The ACM’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (SIGCHI) is a forum for the study of human-computer interaction (HCI) and includes research and development efforts leading to the design and evaluation of user interfaces. The focus of SIGCHI is on how people communicate and interact with computer systems. SIGCHI serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas among computer scientists, human factor scientists, psychologists, social scientists, systems designers and end users. For more information about ACM, see below.

BostonCHI is the Boston area chapter of SIGCHI. Our members, from throughout New England, share ideas and experiences on the rapidly growing and changing area of how computers and people interact. 

We have monthly gatherings in the metro Boston area, which are open to both members and non-members at no charge. In addition, members receive a monthly e-mail newsletter. If you’re not yet a member, we encourage you to become one!

Additionally, we’re always looking for good speakers. If you would like to be considered or if you have someone to recommend, please make a referral.

Contact Us

As a virtual volunteer organization we have no employees, office locations or phone numbers.

For questions or other matters, please email the most appropriate or relevant Steering Committee member from the list in the next section below.

BostonCHI Steering Committee

  • Chair: Todd Chapin – chair@bostonchi.org
  • Vice Chair and Speakers & Programs : Wendy Lucas –  vice-chair@bostonchi.org
  • Treasurer: Michelle Leger – treasurer@bostonchi.org
  • Membership: Priyama Baru– member-chair@bostonchi.org
  • Publicity: Todd Chapin – publicity@bostonchi.org
  • Web Master & other digital bits: Laura Harley – web@bostonchi.org
  • Video Production: David Adler – video@bostonchi.org
  • HotJobs Coordinator: Melanie St James – hotjobs@BostonCHI.org
  • Academic Liaison: Haijing Hao –  academics@bostonchi.org
  • Social Media: Aditya Ponnada  – socialmedia@bostonchi.org
  • At-large Members: Evo Ivanov, Rachel Kern, Joe Sniezek

ACM Information

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is an educational and scientific society of the computing community, and is dedicated to the development of information processing as a discipline, and to the responsible use of computers in an increasing diversity of applications. Through its publications, special interest groups, chapters, and committee activities, ACM promotes and provides for the dissemination of technical and non-technical computing information to its members and the public. The address is: ACM, 1515 Broadway, New York, NY 10036. Their website is http://acm.org.

GBSIGCHI (BostonCHI) By-Laws

1. NAME AND SCOPE

The organization shall be called the Greater Boston Association for Computing Machinery Special Interest Group on Computer Human Interaction. It will be referred to herein as ‘the Local’. The acronym for the Local will be GBSIGCHI. The scope of the Local is the study of the human-computer interaction process. The Local will support within the Greater Boston area activities that are complementary to ACM SIGCHI and the ACM.

2. PURPOSE

The Local is organized and will be operated exclusively for educational and scientific purposes in the Greater Boston area and in furtherance thereof. Its activities will include the following:
• Collecting and disseminating information through a newsletter, announcements and other publications
• Sponsoring meetings, discussion groups and workshops
• Serving as a source of information for its members, other subunits of ACM, and the general public.

3. CHARTER

The Local is formed and will operate under the sponsorship of the ACM and ACM SIGCHI. The Local can be dissolved by consent of its members, or by joint action of the I ACM’s Local Activities Board and the ACM’s SIG Board.

4. MEMBERSHIP

The Local is an open Local SIG. Anyone who supports its purpose may join the Local. A person becomes a member by enrolling and paying any required dues. Voting members shall be those members of the Local whose dues are paid in full at the time of an election or other official ballot

5. MEETINGS

The Local shall conduct at least one meeting each year. All activities of the Local shall be open to the public and shall be held only in places that are open and accessible to all members of the ACM.

6. OFFICERS

The Local’s officers are
• the Chair
• the Treasurer
• the Vice Chair

Officers shall normally serve 1 year beginning July 1. All officers must be voting members of ACM, ACM SIGCHI and the Local.

7. SELECTION OF THE OFFICERS

Officers shall be elected by the voting members of the Local.

8. DUTIES OF THE OFFICERS

Chair

The Chair is the principal officer and is responsible for leading the Local and managing its activities. Duties of the Chair are:

• Conducting the activities of the Local in accordance with the policies of the ACM and ACM SIGCHI
• Ensuring that all reporting requirements to the ACM and ACM SIGCHI are met.
• Monitoring the financial status of the Local.
• Performing other duties as required for the administration of the Local.

Treasurer

The Treasurer is the chief financial officer of the Local. The duties of the Treasurer are:

• Managing the finances of the Local according to the financial accountability policies of the ACM and ACM SIGCHI
• Keeping full and accurate accounts of receipts and expenditures of the Local.
• Performing such other duties as may be assigned by the Chair.

Vice-Chair

The duties of the vice Chair are:

• Assisting the Chair in leading the Local.
• Serving as acting Chair in the absence of the Chair.
• Performing such other duties as may be assigned by the Chair.

9. VOTING PROCEDURES

Procedures for election of officers of the Local or for the modification of the Local’s bylaws or for dissolution of the Local shall be publicized in advance and shall be open to observation by all members of the Local. The date(s) and procedures for the formation of a ballot and for the voting on that ballot shall be announced by the officers of the Local at least two months in advance of their occurrence. This announcement shall be received by the current membership of the Local and by the Chairs of ACM and ACM SIGCHI. All proposed changes to these Local bylaws shall have been approved by the Chairs of ACM’s Local Activities Board and ACM’s Constitution and Bylaws Committee before being presented to the Local membership for a vote. Voting of the membership shall be conducted on ballots received by all eligible members of the Local at least two weeks in advance of the deadline for their return to the Chair of the Local.

10. DISSOLUTION OF THE LOCAL SIG

Dissolution by consent of the local members shall consist of unanimous agreement of all its officers, together with a majority vote at a meeting which has been publicized in advance for the purpose of taking this vote to all members of the Local. Joint action of the ACM’s Local Activities Board and the ACM’s SIC Board shall not be taken without at least presentation of cause to membership of the Local. On dissolution of the Local, its treasury shall be used to repay any outstanding debts. Any remaining assets shall be transferred to the ACM and shall be supervised by the ACM’s Local Activities Board.

The History of BostonCHI

It’s not surprising that the first local chapter of SIGCHI was formed in the Boston area. Two of the first five national CHI meetings were held here, in 1982 and 1986. During that period the manufacturing of minicomputer hardware and software was largely focused in the local area. Companies such as Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Wang, Data General, and Prime were developing minicomputers with proprietary operating systems and applications software. Lotus Development Corp. had released 1-2-3 in 1983 and had a growing facility in Cambridge on the Charles River. The MIT Media Lab opened in 1985.

Working in these organizations was a talented group of pioneers of the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) movement. A large group at DEC were proselytizing about human centered development, including Harry Hersh, Dick Rubinstein, Dennis Wixon, Karen Holtzblatt, and Michael Good. The first book length discussion of HCI, The Human Factor, was published by Harry and Dick in 1984. Joe Dumas was writing his book, Designing User Interfaces for Software, which would be published in 1987.


It is interesting to look back at the HCI issues these people were working on. Dennis was part of a DEC group working on the relative usability of command, menu, and GUI interfaces. Deborah Mayhew was at Wang working on a new GUI to its suite of office automation software. Gary Perlman was teaching software engineering at the Wang Institute. Joe Dumas was working on a contract with the Air Force studying how dictating equipment, fax machines, and optical scanners were enhancing productivity. Kate Ehrlick was working on human factors guidelines at Honeywell.


The 1986 CHI conference was the stimulus for a group of us to get together to share ideas more often. Why wait a whole year when we had so many local people doing human-computer interaction work? Some groups had been meeting informally but we felt that there was enough interest for a local chapter. A small group of about 8-10 of us started to get together for dinner to plan how to organize. There were no local SIGCHI chapters, but the national organization was encouraging and several of us were involved in SIGCHI activities.
When the group had a plan of action, it gathered together a mailing list of local people who were members of either SIGCHI or Human Factors Society. There was no email at the time. A meeting was held in Cambridge at a company called Thinking Machines. Kate Ehrlich and Wendy Mackay chaired the meeting, explained how it came about and asked whether the group would be interested in forming a local chapter to be called Greater Boston SIGCHI.


Here are Joe Dumas’ recollections of that meeting, “At the first meeting, I did something very unusual for me. I volunteered to participate in the formation of the chapter. I became the “Program Chair”, which meant that I invited speakers and hosted them at each meeting. The person, by chance, I sat beside at that first meeting was Dennis Wixon. We have been colleagues since.”


Harry Hersh and Gary Perlman designed a logo for the new chapter:

That evening and the first few years of the chapter were special for all of us. Friendships were formed that still are active. Sharon Smith and Linda Evers, who are still great friends met and started writing and snail mailing our newsletter. Deborah Mayhew has this to add, “I made so many professional friends through my involvement with GBSIGCHI over the years. Not to mention the great opportunity to share experiences and learn from others.” . Deborah later became part of the organizing committee for the 1986 CHI conference in Boston. At that same meeting, Gary Perlman was the student volunteer chair, which he says was his “last management position.” Dennis became the program co-chair of the 2000 CHI meeting and Wendy Mackay later became Chair of the national SIGCHI and Kate was secretary/treasurer of the executive committee 1985-1987.
A final thought from Dennis, “It was the start of a life long career and a series of close friendships that have lasted 30 years. I think we all can consider ourselves most fortunate to have been there at the beginning. As the song says “thanks for the memories”.

Harry Hersh and Dick Rubinstein
Deborah Mayhew
Kate Ehrlick
Joe Dumas

The Human Side of Tech