The Virtual Sauna

Enter the club house of the 'Naked midnight jacuzi user group'.

On the perilous journey through the completion of my PhD, I've come across a few truly wonderful people. Conferences are aamazing meet people who seem to be ideal friends...or could it be that you only see them for a week or so before you get really pissed off with them...or maybe that the only time you met them socially, you/they were utterly inebriated. Anyway you feel that at the end of a week of seeing these people that they're the best of possible mates... and then never speak to them again. Until the next conference. It's quite addictive. I seem to have been to rather a lot of them now. I suppose I've got to ask myself: am I such a social inadequate that I need to meet all my friends through conferences? Well I guess it's something to do with the research student time for real friends (Boo hoo :(.

The first proper conference I attended was the ACM CSCW'94 conference in Raleigh/Durham, North Carolina (USA for all those geographical illiterates), held at the wonderful Sheraton Hotel (I think - small memory lapse). Here I shared a bed with the wonderful Steinar Kristoffersen and the rather more worrying /*/name deleted due to future employment reasons/*/ - who tried to force us to watch pornographic films on the hotel paychannel. He even tried hacking into the circuitboard to get free access - most disturbing. And I shared a bed with this guy? But I gotta tell you, Steinar was great :-) . Rodney Fuller also shared the room with us, but slept (and slept, and slept) on his own bed (pah! No fun! ;-)

We also met up with Aaron Tay, Egon Verharen, Birgitte Krogh, Beki Grinter, and Mike Capps. Eileen Kupstas ran the conference: she was amazing - a one woman taskforce. Magnus Ramage was there, although we didn't really meet then, as well as the rest of the Lancaster CSCW/COMIC group (God knows how many of them....).

What an amazing introduction to the conference scene. To be initiated as a student member of the Naked midnight jacuzi user group was more than one could have hoped for. And no, I am NOT revealing any more (but I suppose you could visit the club house).

I supose the next biggie was the CHI 1995 conference in Denver, Colorado (yep, back in the states again, oh stupid ones). I shared a room with Erik Altman and Tom Gross: separate beds this time - soooo disappointing :-). Here I met up with Birgitte Krogh, Dave Lees, Hans de Graaff, Constance Fleuriot, etc. I suppose I needn't describe this, because Hans has a wonderful description of this on his pages (here)

Here we reconvened the Naked midnight jacuzi user group - but in a sauna - they didn't seem to have a jacuzi. The most amusing bit was sneaking Birgitte into the mens changing rooms to get into the sauna. Anyway, it was a bit of a failiure - they turned the heat off before midnight. I suppose that you wouldn't normally expect people to be in there at 1 o'clock in the morning :-) . Any way I seemed to suprise some poor young (American) man sitting in the now rather cool sauna when I came back to collect some things...he seemed horrified that a man had seen his naked body! Eek! How traumatic! In a mens changing room too! Shocking. Oh, well. I suppose that's what you get from a religous upbringing. Most entertaining.

Well, then I went to the BCS HCI 1995 conference (Where I presented my first paper!!) and met up with Dave Lees again and Dave Cartwright (at the same institution - and it's not a coincidence that I call it an institution...:-). We also were bossed around by Devina Rathmundy (a lot).

Most disappointing feature of Huddersfield Uni - no sauna or jacuzi. Well, you can't expect everything.

Yeah, I suppose '95 was good for conferences - I also went to the ECSCW conference in Stockholm (yes...Sweden) - almost at the home of the sauna (NB. It's pronounced saow-nar, I believe). But again, disapointment - we never got round to it (darn. Must try harder next time). We met up with Magnus Ramage, Steinar Kristoffersen and Birgitte Krogh again. I also met Bazza Brown - wahey - someone interested in my topic area (distributed cognition! Yipee: I'm not the only one in the UK!). And the excellent Chris Schnurr (you've just gotta visit his web page: the 'get a life: fun and serious interests page' - see also the very cool Hug-o-rama) was kept under close orders by Devina Rathmundy.

That's about it this year. 'Hope to meet many more of you jolly CHI/CSCW/Cog Sci folk later this year...



Climb out of the sauna