Carnegie Mellon University-GSIA
Pittsburgh PA 15213. USA
Universidad de las Américas-Puebla.
Cholula, Puebla. 72820. México
Raquel O. Prates
Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro
R. Marquês de São Vicente, 225
Gávea Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil 22453-900
ACM-SIGCHI has been working towards fostering internationalization,
and has created the International Issues Committee (IIC) (Novick, 98).
The IIC has detected a series of challenges for increasing international
collaboration. Working around various differences
among communities from different countries represents one of these challenges.
Major differences are related to such areas as intellectual and
research traditions, perception of HCI, industry involvement, infrastructure
for research, and economic situations. We believe that
one way to foster international cooperation is to create "cultural clusters,"
that is, groups that share similar culture, problems and other characteristics.
Although Latin American countries are both ,
very similar and very different, most Latin American countries share language,
religion, political and economic
systems. Thus, we believe that bringing Latin
Americans together the and creating a Latin
American HCI community may will
allow us to join our efforts and find solutions to common
challenges and problems.
The first step taken towards creating such a community was to bring
physically together in
the context of an CHI Conference. Latin Americans involved in HCI
research and development met for the first time during the CHI99 conference.
An informal interest group (SIG) took place and discussed collaboration
and participation in HCI research and development among Latin American
countries, as well as with other countries (Gonzalez, Sanchez and Prates,
Twenty-seven people participated in the SIG. Participating Latin American
countries were: Argentina, Aruba, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica,
Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, El Salvador and Venezuela. Other
people delegates from the
USA, and The
Netherlands and France also participated. During the 90 minutes provided
available for this meeting we presented the
challenges for international collaboration identified by the IIC, and invited
the participants to an open discussion leading towards the identification
of the possible solutions to those challenges in our own countries. Next
we present the major results from this meeting:
Research Traditions and Infrastructure
HCI as a field is very new in Latin America. For instance, only two
Latin American Countries have a local SIG (http://www.acm.org/sigchi/local-sigs/).
Nevertheless, HCI research is not new. Several institutions and universities
work on projects and teach courses in HCI. Most projects however, are not
recognized identified as
HCI, but rather classified as more traditional Computer Science research
areas, such as Software Engineering and Artificial Intelligence.
Major requirements raised in order to foster the development of a research
tradition in HCI in Latin America are: (1) to increase HCI awareness in
the universities and industry, and (2) to achieve critical mass. The necessity
to disseminate knowledge in Latin America about HCI is very important.
Many people still
do not know what are
not aware about HCI is and its role in software
design. Recently, several universities in Latin America have incorporated
general courses in HCI into the Computer Science curricula. However, we
require an effective way to disseminate knowledge and motivate both universities
and industries to get involved in HCI as a field. We believe we have critical
mass, however we don't have the necessary infrastructure to reach people.
For instance, Mexico and Brazil are two very large and intellectually diverse
countries. Meeting people face-to-face in on
a regular basis to discuss HCI research is almost impossible. Thanks
to technology and intellectual initiative, Mexico has started a set
series of "virtual meetings" to discuss various
topics in the CHI-Mexico group. However, regular face-to-face meetings
are still necessary.
Doing research in Latin America is a difficult endeavor. Latin American researchers and developers are faced not only with the natural difficulty that research work imposes, but also with frustration due to lack of equipment, material, infrastructure and financial support for doing research.
Economic disparity in Latin American countries is a key factor for participation and international cooperation. Latin American countries are frequently rated according to their participation and publications in internationally recognized association and journals. However, economic disparities make this evaluation very unfair. Membership costs for any international computing association are too high for any average university professor, and they are almost impossible for students. People are interested but do not have the resources to pay for travel and conference expenses for CHI or other SIGCHI conferences.
Economic support is required to help Latin American researchers develop
infrastructure, and to bring HCI knowledge and development. Several approaches
the economic disparities
might be considered. For example, the professional
societies (such as ACM/SIGCHI) might could:
apply different membership costs fees
based on the country of residency; sponsor
scientific projects to group research with internationally recognized institutions;
sponsor speakers to go to Latin America's conferences and meetings;
provide technology and information like the ACM's digital library
for Latin American researchers' use at preferential
rates. These, as well as other ideas to support research and development
of HCI in Latin America would help in building local HCI communities and
improving cooperation among them.
During the meeting we decided that we needed an identity
easy and cheap ways inexpensive
means to improve communication among Latin American HCI researchers.
Initially, we agreed to create a discussion list for people interested
in HCI in Latin America. This action task
has been undertaken. If you Anyone
who would like to join the discussion list , please just
needs to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
with a line: "subscribe chi-latina". To send a message to
reach all subscribers, messages
can be sent write to email@example.com.
We have also created a directory of people interested in HCI in Latin
America, organized by country.
You can see this www site at the
URL: This directory is available at http://www.acm.org/chapters/chimex/LatinA.html.
If you would like your name to be added to this directory, please send
a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
believe we have started a network for Latin American
communication and collaboration in HCI research and development. There
is still a long way road
ahead, and we know it is not an easy one. But thanks to available
technology and ACM/SIGCHI's support we believe we can start disseminating
HCI knowledge in our countries and work towards
building local HCI communities and cooperation among ourselves to solve
common problems , which are our main goal.
Gonzalez C., Sanchez A., Prates R. O. Encouraging CHI Collaboration in Latin America. Proceedings of the CHI99 Extended Abstracts. Pittsburgh PA, May 15-20. pp. 353.
Novick, D (1998). The SIGCHI International issues committee: taking action. Proceedings of the CHI98 summary conference, page 374.