Response to Open Letter Regarding CHI Format
On 9 October 2021, an Open Letter was given to the organizers of CHI2022 entitled “CHI 2022 Should Be a Virtual Only Event.” The letter was signed by 36 people. Issues in the open letter were addressed at two town halls scheduled to maximize time zone access, both in October of this year.
The authors of this letter have successfully advocated for many changes to the CHI conference over the years, which has made it more just. We thank them for bringing their concerns about these issues to us.
In the specifics of the letter, some things are under our purview while others are more under the auspices of the Steering Committee. Some are new problems caused by the pandemic, while others are long term issues we will continue to address no matter what. However, the broad point of the letter is much more important than the sum of its parts. My reframing of the letter is this:
“Deciding to hold an in-person event for CHI 2022 puts some people at risk, and historically excluded and marginalized people bear more of that risk than is just.”
We acknowledge that, and while the move to hybrid we hope increases equity, there are still gaps to overcome. We are of the mind that the future of CHI, for many reasons, is hybrid. The sooner we start trying out different hybrid formats and assessing their success the better able we will be to create meaningful hybrid experiences as a conference series.
Once again, we appreciate the authors and signers for bringing this issue to light, and for challenging us all to reconsider our options and decisions. Continually iterating on our decisions and the ethics around those decisions is the only way we will make forward progress as an organization.
CHI2022 General Chairs