Semaan and Co-Authors Win CHI 2015 Best Paper Award

By: Diane Stirling
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A paper co-authored by Bryan Semaan, assistant professor at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) and a co-director of the School’s BITS (Behavior, Information, Technology and Society) Laboratory, has been cited as one of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)’s “Best Paper” awards of 2015.

Called Designing Political Deliberation Environments to Support Interactions in the Public Sphere, the paper was selected from a total of about 2,100 submissions this year. Its naming as a “best paper” qualifies it as among the top one percent all submissions.

In the paper, Semaan and his co-authors discuss the topic of social media interaction in the public sphere regarding political discussions. The assistant professor wrote about his topic, “little is known about the challenges and successes people face when piecing together multiple social media to interact in the online public sphere when seeking information, disseminating information, and engaging in political discussions.” His project interviewed 29 U.S. citizens and conducted 17 talk-out-loud sessions with people who were using one or more social media technologies, such as Facebook and Twitter, to interact in the online public sphere.

“We identified a number of challenges and workarounds related to public sphere interactions, and used our findings to formulate requirements for new political environments that support the interactions in the public sphere,” Professor Semaan described. “Through evolving requirements generation, we developed a new political deliberation technology, dubbed Poli, which is an integrated social media environment with the potential to enable more effective interactions in the public sphere.” The paper discusses several questions and limitations to the tool that will drive future work, Semaan added.

His co-authors on the paper are Heather Faucett from the University of California at Irvine, and Scott Robertson, Misa Maruyama, and Sara Douglas from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Professor Semaan said it is “truly an honor to have received a SIGCHI Best of CHI Best Paper Award…especially since the CHI and Computer Supported Cooperative Work conferences are the premier venues for the Human-Computer Interaction community, and CHI is the most competitive.”

He noted that this year, CHI received more than 2,100 submissions and had an acceptance rate of about 21%. “As such, it’s always difficult to get work accepted at CHI and the best paper award is given to the top (less than) 1%—making the award that much more impactful professionally, and more importantly, personally. I am elated that my hard work was recognized, and that I have the privilege of representing the Syracuse iSchool family each and every day. I am especially thankful for the support of my wonderful colleagues in everything that I do.”

"We at the iSchool are extremely proud of Bryan's achievement,” said iSchool Interim Dean Jeff Stanton. “His research represents an important focus area for the school and this award signals the great success he is having in this area."

Semaan will accept the award at the annual CHI conference in Seoul next week.

The Association for Computing Machinery’s (ACM) CHI conference is the world's premiere conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, presenting a highly selective showcase of the very best advances across the disciplines of computer science, cognitive psychology, design, social science, human factors, artificial intelligence, graphics, visualization, multi-media design and other disciplines. For more than 30 years, the CHI conference has attracted the world’s leading researchers and practitioners in the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) from businesses and universities to share ground-breaking research and innovations related to how humans interact with digital technologies.