Jakob Nielsen, SIGCHI Vice Chair for Publications
Steven Pemberton, SIGCHI Bulletin Editor
John "Scooter" Morris, SIGCHI Information Chair
When discussing possible SIGCHI ventures into electronic publishing, it is important to keep in mind that the content providers have provided SIGCHI with their original intellectual property in order to have it widely disseminated. Thus, we need to consider electronic publication as a way of providing access to the materials for a larger audience and of giving this audience better ways of finding the HCI materials they need. In other words, we cannot consider electronic publishing as a profit center to generate additional revenue by restricting access to the information or by maximizing access charges. On the other hand, we realistically have to consider that there is in fact some cost associated with the conversion of heterogeneous source materials into a high-quality integrated hypertext, just as it will cost money to run and maintain the server and its network connections. In the long term, we will have to resolve the conflict between these two opposing views and find ways of generating sufficient revenues to cover the cost of supplying SIGCHI information electronically.
Possible cost recovery mechanisms include the following:
There are different technological solutions to electronic publishing, including the following:
Given the trade-offs, we think Internet publishing is the most promising approach for our first experiments.
Given that we want Internet delivery, we will need a server. There are four possibilities:
We recommend using acm.org for our initial experiments.
The plan for implementing SIGCHI electronic publishing is divided into three parts, covering the short term (this year), the medium term (the next two years), and the long term. We know concretely what we want to do this year, and we have a fairly good grasp of what the technology will support over the next two years. For the long term future, our plans should only be seen as preliminary and the concrete plans will depend of developments in the hypertext field and the Internet.
Convert those issues of the SIGCHI Bulletin that exist in FrameMaker format into HTML hypertext for delivery over the World Wide Web, served through acm.org. Initially, this service will be free to all Internet users. Desirable advanced features of this project would be automated searching through WAIS or other means as well as the establishment of tools to convert future issues of the Bulletin from Frame format to HTML format for integration into the online hypertext. We expect to need no more than 10-20 megabytes of storage space on the HTTP server for this limited project.
Conversion will most likely take place as a student project at CWI, supervised by Steven Pemberton. It is proposed that the costs be paid by SIGCHI out of its development funds.
Action items: Steven Pemberton: Find out what financial support would be needed to get a student to do this (and start thinking about who might want to do it). Scooter Morris: Find out when acm.org can be expected to have an HTTP server and what (if anything) SIGCHI will be charged for putting material on the server.
The proceedings of CHI'95 and CHI'96 are published electronically on the World Wide Web in HTML form, including some non-traditional media types. Additionally, the future issues of the SIGCHI Bulletin are placed online as they are published, and we should experiment with converting at least one old volume of the CHI proceedings into online format. Some form of search mechanism will definitely have to be implemented for this medium-scale collection, most likely using WAIS, Latent Semantic Indexing, AppleSearch, or some similar information retrieval-based paradigm. The storage space for the medium-term project will likely be less than a gigabyte.
Major parts of the conversion effort may be outsourced to staff recruited through the Moscow chapter of SIGCHI, taking advantage of the temporary disparity between the quality of the available personnel and their cost when local salaries are converted into western currency.
If needed, we might experiment with access to our online materials for people who have email but no Internet connection. Depending on technical developments, we might also experiment with non-WWW Internet access.
Most likely, this material will be made available for free to all Internet users, but it may be necessary to restrict access to SIGCHI members in good standing, depending on the cost structure of running the acm.org server. For the medium term period, we do not envision the use of explicit access charges, so the most we can do is to recover some of the costs through membership dues and restrict access to the members. All of the conversion costs as well as most of the costs of running the server should probably be covered through SIGCHI development funds given that the work is scheduled to take place during a transitory period where Internet servers are comparatively expensive and without well-established charging mechanisms.
All proceedings of major SIGCHI conferences are available online in an integrated manner (e.g., with hypertext links for cross references), including not just text and traditional printed materials but also dynamic media like animation and video. The SIGCHI Bulletin, conference announcements, and other materials are also available. Older information is converted to as large extent as possible, hopefully including all CHI conference proceedings since 1983. Advanced search tools are provided, possibly using agents, information filtering approaches, readwear, or other paradigms that go beyond standard information retrieval. Also, features like group annotations and ephemeral interest groups may be supported in addition to the traditional publication of original source materials supplied by the initial content providers. The required storage space for the long term project will likely be ten gigabytes for the converted materials plus an additional three or four gigabytes for each year of new materials, growing to maybe five or ten gigabytes per year as more content providers take advantage of the new multi-media possibilities.
Mechanisms need to be put in place for the conversion of SIGCHI publications to whatever standardized online format is chosen. In the long term, it will not be possible to rely on having this conversion performed by cheap labor, so as much as possible of the conversion will need to be automated and we will need established mechanisms for paying for whatever manual work remains.
SIGCHI electronic publishing will need to be a financially sound proposition, so we will need to determine funding mechanisms that do not depend on development funds. During the medium term period, viable financial models have to be developed and experiments carried out to determine how and what users are willing to pay. By 1997, there will almost certainly be mechanisms in place on the Internet for various ways of charging users (by the hour, by the megabyte, or as a subscription fee).
During the short-term and medium-term periods, we envision to have all publications published in a paper format in parallel with their electronic versions. The only exception is the multimedia companion materials to the conference proceedings, which might be published on videotape in parallel with the online version, but which most likely will only be published electronically. After 1997 it may be possible to eliminate paper copies of some publications, but most likely, SIGCHI will continue publishing paper versions of most publications until after year 2000. A target date for the elimination of paper publishing might be 2010.