Yesterday I received word that the work-in-progress paper I submitted to CHI was not accepted. As it was not my idea to submit to CHI because I do not view it as a good view for design, I was not disappointed. However, I will gripe about the comments I received because they emphasize CHI’s lack of design understanding.

My paper was based on my thesis project work, which explores the idea of being able to prototype your identity in the physical world. I’m taking a research-through-design approach, which means I’m creating a solution to produce knowledge on how explore solutions. This is very much a design approach, using a design process and methods to develop insights and inform direction.

Overall, the three reviewers were interested in the work, but felt it was not fully developed (quite probably). I received an overall rating of 3 (of 5, I assume) from all the reviewers. The 3 translates to “Borderline: Overall I would not argue for accepting this paper.”

The first reviewer begins by stating that the motivation of my work is “not well motivated and embedded in psychologist’s work.” As my work is totally motivated by designer’s work, I completely agree. For the reviewer, it seems a more scientific approach would have been better received. Having gone to CHI last year and witnessed the emphasis on the quantitative and the lack of design, this does not surprise me.

The second and third reviewers share the first’s skepticism, questioning whether the findings could be applied universally and generalized. The third also states that “the conclusions drawn seem to be too subjective.” While it’s entirely possible that my findings were not well argued, thus appearing “too subjective,” I can’t help but wonder if there would have been any room for any subjectivity at all.

While I applaud CHI for attempting to bring more design into the conference (though I also wonder why), I question how design might find its way in if the reviewers do not seem to understand the approach and methods.

And speaking of CHI and design, today I received an ACM bulletin which states: “Each year the SIGCHI conference draws together engineers, designers, educators, and many others concerned with interaction design.” Interaction design? Really? Of all the things they could have said, why not human computer interaction? If making a claim about a conference that draws people together who are concerned with interaction design, it might be best to point to something like the IxDA conference. As someone concerned with interaction design, that’s where I’ll be.