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CSCW 2020 is Going Virtual

Matthew J. Bietz
Apr 29 · 4 min read

CSCW 2020 will be a virtual conference. In light of current uncertainty about SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, and in consultation with our Organizing Committee, the CSCW Steering Committee, SIGCHI, ACM, and the UIST chairs, we have come to the conclusion that the best course of action is to transition from the physically co-located conference to a completely virtual format for CSCW 2020. By making this decision now, we will have the opportunity to redirect our organizing activities toward producing an outstanding conference experience.

Why We Made This Decision Now

October will not be safe for an in-person conference. While there is significant uncertainty about the future shape of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a growing consensus among public health experts that we cannot expect everything to have returned to normal by October.

We are a worldwide community. Even if some or most of the CSCW community is no longer facing travel restrictions in the fall, it is likely that restrictions won’t have eased everywhere. International travel is likely to be difficult if not impossible.

We recognize that the impacts of coronavirus are distributed unequally. The health, economic, social, and other burdens of the coronavirus impact some members of our community more than others. Having an in-person conference would create the biggest challenges for those who already face significant barriers to their participation.

You need time to plan. We know that many of us are already planning for the rest of our year and need to know what will be happening with the conference.

We need time to plan. We want to have the best conference possible. While we may have greater certainty in a month or two, every day that we delay making this decision impacts our conference planning and preparation.

Our Commitments

CSCW 2020 will happen. We are making this decision now so that we have ample time to organize our virtual conference. We expect CSCW to happen on the same dates, although daily schedules may need to be adjusted.

CSCW and UIST will be virtually co-located. The organizers of CSCW and UIST have been working together for over a year to create a co-located conference, and we have worked together to come to this decision. We are committed to maintaining the spirit of our co-location and creating opportunities for our communities to interact.

Papers will be published as expected. Because we are now published through the Proceedings of the ACM, publication will continue as planned for all papers. Papers will still be published even if authors are unable to attend the conference.

Papers will be presented at the conference. We are still figuring out what it will mean to present a paper at a virtual conference, but we are committed to making sure that the papers remain at the center of the program. As was already planned, any paper accepted in the Oct 2019 and Jan 2020 cycles will have a slot to present. We will assess our ability to accomodate presentation slots for June 2020 acceptances in the coming months.

We will continue to have a non-archival program. The CSCW program has always included more than papers. While the forms and formats may change, we expect to have keynotes, posters, panels, workshops, and other non-archival venues as an important component of CSCW 2020. We expect non-archival submissions to be due in mid June, but that date may be pushed back as our plans take shape and taking into account the need to advertise and recruit participants.

We will endeavor to be a social conference. One of the most important reasons to attend a conference is to interact informally with other attendees. We will create opportunities for informal and social interaction at our virtual conference.

We will be an international conference. We want participants from around the world to attend and feel welcome in our virtual conference. While we cannot erase differences in time zones, languages, or available infrastructures, we will do our best to reduce their impact on our conference.

We will strive to reduce barriers to participation. We have been working to ensure that CSCW 2020 would be the most accessible, sustainable, and welcoming CSCW to date, and we stand by that commitment. There will be a registration fee for the conference, but we expect it to be significantly lower than for an in-person conference.

What We Ask of You

Let us know what you think. Please share your questions, concerns, and ideas with us, through your comments or by emailing us at chairs2020@cscw.acm.org. We are just beginning to work out the details of what this decision will mean. Having your input will help us shape the conference to be what our community wants and needs.

Help us organize. We will likely be looking for additional organizing committee members to help with the transition to a virtual conference. If you are interested in helping out, please fill out this form. If you have relevant expertise you can lend, please share those details, even if you’re not available for a typical organizing committee role!

Attend CSCW 2020. Going virtual will be a challenge. We ask for your patience and understanding as we move forward. But most importantly, we ask that you show up. CSCW 2020 can’t be a success without you!

We are CSCW!

“How will technological innovation affect the way large-scale group activity is organized in the future?” — from the introduction to the first CSCW Conference Proceedings

In all of our recent discussions and planning, we have held one constant refrain: if anyone can have a successful virtual conference, CSCW can! We have spent 30+ years studying how to work together when we are physically distant. We know what it means to engage socially and professionally online. This is an opportunity to apply what we know and, in the process, to learn even more. This is a novel situation, but it’s also one that we have been preparing for since 1986!

Thank you for your patience and support as we take this unexpected but necessary step. We look forward to hearing from you and working with you in the coming months!

See you at CSCW 2020!

Matthew Bietz & Andrea Wiggins
CSCW 2020 General Co-Chairs

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