Aligning the Research Interests of System Administrators and CHIMIT Researchers
It has long been understood that the inclusion of end users in HCI studies is the ideal to which most, if not all, investigations should strive. While some studies target end users who are plentiful, straightforward to access, or easy to proxy (e.g., the use of undergraduate students to represent administrative assistants), HCI researchers interested in the management of IT face many challenges when recruiting subjects, namely system administrators (sysadmins). First, sysadmins perform work that is complex and high risk, creating situations and environments that cannot be easily replicated in a laboratory experiment or outside of their native work environment. Second, studies have argued that sysadmins are different from other computer professionals (such as computer programmers); and as such, proxies cannot accurately approximate their interactions and behaviors in experiments. Finally, studies suggest that it is particularly difficult to gain access to sysadmins for study, for reasons that include distrust of outsiders, overwhelming workloads, and disinterest in research.
To encourage and promote collaboration among researchers and sysadmins, we are holding a one-day LISA workshop on Monday, December 5, to be held in conjunction with CHIMIT ’11 and LISA ‘11. LISA is one of the largest USENIX conferences and attracts sysadmins working with large infrastructures. Participants will include researchers interested in research involving sysadmins, and senior sysadmins in the field interested in participating or providing access to research data. This workshop will provide an opportunity for in-depth discussions between CHIMIT researchers and highly experienced system administrators. The expected outcomes include:
- the identification of key areas of future research/collaborations
- initial action plans, and
- future joint conference submissions for CHIMIT and/or LISA.
Interested researchers should briefly describe their interest in research and identify 2-3 key issues that they would be interested in investigating in cooperation with sysadmins. Workshop attendees will be selected from interested CHIMIT participants. There will be a $50 surcharge in addition to the regular 1-day CHIMIT registration fee. Approximately 10-20 attendees will be admitted to the workshop based on the proposals. We also anticipate 10-20 senior sysadmins as participants; these sysadmins will be selected based on their interest in participation in research and their ability to offer feedback, access, and data for the projects identified during the conference.
Position papers should be sent to: email@example.com.
Benefits to CHIMIT participants include:
- Admittance to the LISA workshop, which will include lunch and two catered breaks.
- Opportunity to meet and talk with sysadmins and get feedback on current/future projects;
- Opportunity to mingle and snack with sysadmins during breaks (the important “hallway track”).
- Access to USENIX publications, including LISA proceedings.
- Better understanding of issues and problems facing sysadmins today.
- Opportunity to design and conduct engaged research with sysadmins.
For $50, selected researchers will be admitted to the LISA workshop, which will include lunch and two catered breaks. In addition, reimbursement for one night of hotel stay (up to $200) will be provided. Attendees staying at the LISA conference hotel may be able to have their extra night paid directly by the organizers.
This special cross-conference workshop will be facilitated by Nicole F. Velasquez, Adam Moskowitz, and Paul Anderson.
Nicole is an Assistant Professor at Pepperdine University and is a recognized sysadmin researcher in both academic and industry circles. She was chair of CHIMIT ‘10 and has served on two LISA program committees. Her homepage is nicolefv.com.
In addition to two years as CHIMIT chair (2010 and 2011), Adam is a long-time LISA participant who has served on ten LISA program committees, was program chair of LISA ’09, and has facilitated the LISA Advanced Topics Workshop since 1997.
Paul Anderson is a member of the “Centre for Intelligent Systems Architecture” at the University of Edinburgh. He has a background in practical system administration and he is currently interested in applying intelligent systems techniques to practical configuration problems. Paul was programme chair for the 2007 LISA conference, and author of the SAGE booklets on System Configuration, the LCFG configuration tool, and a range of papers in the systems administration field. His homepage is http://homepages.inf.ed.ac.uk/dcspaul.