Fernanda Viegas and i wrote a paper for HICSS called Digital Artifacts for Remembering and Storytelling: PostHistory and Social Network Fragments and the draft was accepted. This means that we now need to edit it based on the reviewers’ comments and resubmit for publication.
I’m quite excited about this because i think that we’re getting at some interesting points in that paper. Basically, we stepped back from the two email visualization projects and reflected on their value. We realized that we have all of this social interaction in digital spaces without meaningful artifacts for remembering. Photographs are such valuable tools for sharing events in real life, but those same elements don’t exist online. When we created SNF and PostHistory, we realized that they ended up providing that opportunity accidentally. This is interesting because it makes us reflect on the value of such artifacts for social interaction. While digital communication allows us to have all of the archives of our experience, it doesn’t give us the quick coarse snapshops that let us reflect in a meaningful manner.
One of the things that i love about submitting to HICSS is that the reviews are always so meaningfully critical. Needless to say, all of the reviewers commented on our failure to evaluate our tools. And they are right: we didn’t. Of course, i still think that the value in what we built was more in the thought element than in any suggestion that this is a meaningful tool for distribution. Or maybe that’s just my excuse for not having had time to evaluate. But i really am not sure what a meaningful evaluation for SNF would’ve been. I certainly don’t think that it is a distributable tool (even if people keep asking to download it). Another common thread in the reviews was that they didn’t understand why anyone would want to use this tool continuously. This makes me think that we didn’t make our arguments strong enough. Just as people don’t use photographs regularly, they wouldn’t want to use any such tool as a means of information retrieval. Instead, these are artifacts to bring out during times of sharing or curiousity, not as a daily ritual. Aside from these two common threads, everything else in the reviews was inconsistent. Some reviewers loved our writing; others despised it. Some thought we were on to something; others thought the tools were pointless. Still, the various perspectives were quite valuable and certainly motivate me to want to publish there more often, even if attending the conference is a *huge* dent in the pocket.