jofish22: (Default)
So I went to pay my CHI Registration fee today, so that it was done and out the way. The price is frankly ridiculous: the student, early registration fee is $425. I've seen some discussion about this in email: I know I'm not the only one who finds these fees expensive -- and I'm a graduate student at a well-funded school in a technical program in a rich country. God forbid you're from some non-first world country -- or from the humanities, or anthropology or sociology. In the words of the technical chair:

"CHI2006 is introducing a number of innovations to help the CHI conference appeal to a wider audience. We have made significant structural changes to encourage the broader participation of CHI's communities of practice and to provide new ways to bring interesting work to the conference."

Hmm... how does.... doubling the prices strike you for "encouraging broader participation"? Doubling? Well, from last year, student price is up $200, an 88% increase, and the member price is up 38%, also a $200 increase. From two years ago, it's UP 142% and **214%*** from 2003, when it was $135. (Note I'm presenting these as increases, not just comparisons: 2006's fee is **314%** of the 2003 fee.) By comparison, the member fee is 'only' up 41% on the year before, and 49% up on 2003.

Well, let's look historically. Here's a graph of the last ten year of CHI fees. See that big upswing? Jaesus.

So is it unreasonable? You know, cost of living increases, and we're in Montreal, which is a big expensive city, right? Well, 2003 was Vienna, the 16th most expensive city in the world, last year was Portland, the #112th most expensive city in the world, and this year it's Montreal... the 107th. Hmm. Well, this year, it's a day longer. Ok, I'll give you a bit of room for an increase there. But this is ridiculous. And don't even try to claim inflation.

Frankly, it's just outrageous. SIGCHI has real, real problems, and I'm continually dismayed at the lack of transparency to its members, of which this is a prime example. I don't know if there's anything to be done for this year -- although I bloody hope so -- but there's an awful lot of people I know about boycotting. I feel like as a grad student, co-chairing a workshop and presenting a paper and an alt.chi submission, I can't afford to not go. But having no choice about it doesn't make it any better. Without getting paranoid about this, it's hard not to feel that it's a concious choice: if you're an ambitious student, you have to show up at the conference, you have to present, you have to be seen. If you're a tenured faculty member, hey, skip a year, go to another conference, that's fine, who cares. You're establihed. But I don't feel I've got that choice.

February 2010

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