Xi Rao bio photo

Xi Rao

I’ve been thinking for the last three months about what would the conference look like. And I could not help stoping thinking because this is my first time to participate in such a great academic conference even though I am just presenting a poster here. This is a start point for me and I’ve been imagining for a lot of times. This trip finally offers me a physic, real, lively impression of academic conferences.

Check out my poster in the Proceedings here!

San Francisco, an expensive place. If you’re not able to book a room in the conferencec hotel, then it would be the situation that you stay at some hotel really far away from the conference and will probably spend two hours in the traffic, especially in the big city with complicated public transportation system and tall buildings that block your Google Map signals. (Unless, you use Uber a lot.) Hotels are very popular during this time. Oh, be sure that your hotel offers Internet. For me, I arrived at SF on Sunday. My hotel was nearby the SF International airport while 1 hour+ away from the conference. While 20 bucks for Uber can save you around 40 minutes when the traffic is not that bad. As I arrived my hotel, I headed to the conference. There’s a welcome reception in the evening. And the conference looks as the picture below.

CSCW conference at Hyatt Regency

I went there and got Dr. Hemphill. And that’s the first day of my CSCW conference. Oh, I forgot to mention. That day is also the Oscar day. I watched a little with Dr. Hemphill and her roommate, an organization management scholar from New Jersey. I was really just looking around and making sure I could find the correct place so that I won’t be lost on the next day since I’m always in a mess when finding places. And through talking with Dr. Hemphill, I realized that even it was the conference time, you may spend time as your normal working days when you’re not participating any sections. For example, I was working on our lab projet with Libby as I arrived at the conference and found nothing to do at that time.

Everyone gets a small brochure about the conference with its schedule. You can always plan and see which section you’d like to go. Best paper and honorable mention award are both marked differently so that it also helps with your plan. I went to different sections: paper, panel, poster, etc. I saw people who rejected my PhD application, people whose paper I had read a lot, people I had heard their names for several times, and people from all over the world. I think it’s really fun and excited to see so many people are working on the topics that I’m interested in! Their passion and intelligence greatly encourage me. It is very lucky and wonderful to see and communicate with these amazing people here.

CSCW brochure CSCW paper section

Poster Time!

Monday night is the interactive poster time. So basically the rule is, I stand there and wait for people to walk by. When people are showing interests about my poster, I introduce my research to them and ask for suggestions, questions and comments. Here I actually have already thought of what I’m gonna get from this section.

My research is about Asian American Chicago Network (AACN). We have retrieved all posts and comments in the FaceBook group of AACN. And it is also a start for our larger project about civic engagement. Our lab is trying to understand how local communities use social media to improve their group. We want to learn their behaviors, their needs, and their identities. I am eager to get some suggestions on several different aspects: the method to study social media especially FaceBook groups; the method to study local communities; the direction that our research can go to; the possible questions that we can ask and answer. Therefore, I actually have pretty clear clue about my “customers” comments. And I have a bunch of topics to talk with them.

Before the section, I heard different catching ways to attract audiences. However, I didn’t plan to do that. Because I’m thinking I just need suggestions from people who are interested in my field. I guess it’s a right decision because at the end of the section, I was so tired and my throat felt like burning. I felt good that I didn’t waste my energy on keeping bothering some people who have little interests. All I did is standing there and observing. When someone came up and looked at my poster for ten seconds. I offered them an introduction and asked for comments. I always tried to understand what this person’s field was and discuss my study from his or her perspective. I guess at the end I had 6 or 7 people came and I had long (more than 10 minutes) talk with each of them. People who are interested in crossing culture study, people who are editors of technical communication journal, people who are doing research with social media, and even people who work for FaceBook! These people give me different inspiration from different perspectives. I start to rethink my study from various views. These discussions are part of my most precious experiences during this trip.

CSCW poster section

CSCW Dr. Hemphill and Josh are talking with others about their poster CSCW My poster about AACN Facebook group and I

This meeting is a lot of fun! Some people who can not come, they send a robot which can walk around to represent them! Look! This person was in Brazil. The real name of the robot is “Beam”.

CSCW beam

Moreover, I talked with the FaceBook UX team and everything sounds just awesome there! Qualitative method, quantitative method, participatory design..just like what we are doing in the CaSM Lab! I wish I could have a chance to do an internship there, and experience the culture and the operation of such a super social media company! What’s more, I noticed that not only universities but also companies such as FaceBook and YaHoo! also participated in this conferences. And their papers are slightly different from ours from the academic associations. Usually ours focus a lot on research meaning while theirs care more about a specific feature of their products. One interesting thing crossed my mind was that, it must be very easy for them to get the data since they already own it! I was a little jealous honestly.

CSCW Facebook is recuiting

Meanwhile, I also spent some time appreciating the sunny city.


It’s a great experience and I wish I could publish paper here soon! Only one thing I felt pretty regretful was that I didn’t get a chance to let Dr. Hemphill introduce some of her wonderful colleagues to me. I blame the traffic! It was a pain so that I had to leave early. But in all, I enjoyed CSCW 2016 a lot.