As anyone who stands still long enough to hear knows, I’m serving as a program co-chair for SIGITE/RIIT 2014 this year. While it’s a ton of work, it’s been a great experience so far. Seeing the entirety of submissions for two conferences gives me a lot more perspective on how conference programs are put together and on the type of research that’s being done in IT and IT education. I’m glad I volunteered to do it.
Of course there are aggravating things too, as anyone who’s helped with conference organization knows, and my latest annoyance is reviewing. Anyone who submits to conferences has their favorite story about the horrible and/or contradictory reviews they’ve gotten, but my current issue isn’t even that. I don’t think anyone but a member of a program committee knows how many people simply don’t do their reviews. It’s such a known problem that almost all conferences have a pool of emergency reviewers to handle the spillover from the slackers. But this year we’re adding meta-reviewing to the conferences, so many of the people we would have used for emergency reviews are already signed up to do that. As a result we as the program co-chairs are having to do an almost absurd number of reviews, which would have only been worse if the SIG chair hadn’t sacrificed part of his vacation to help us out. I think I’ll volunteer to recruit reviewers for the conferences next year to make sure the next program chair has an easier time of it.
But the biggest thing I’m taking away from the experience is a sense of gratitude for all those people who do the right thing when it comes to the small things in our jobs. I have a new appreciation for people who sign up to help with conference reviewing, the reviewers who complete their work on time, and even for the colleagues who answer their email in a timely fashion. The small things are easy to not take seriously, but it makes my life (and many other peoples’ lives) easier when someone does. So thanks to all of you who do the right thing. I hope it helps to know that someone is paying attention.