Notes from the SIGDOC Chair

Brad Mehlenbacher

Dear SIGDOC Members,

Coordination and planning continues for ACM SIGDOC 2011, the 29th ACM International Conference on Design of Communication ( being held in Pisa, Italy, this upcoming October 3r to 5th, 2011. I’m hoping that our Program Chairs, Carlos Costa (Department of Information Science and Techology, Lisbon University Institute / ISCTE) and Carlo Meghini (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche Instituto di Scienza e Tecnologie dell’Informazione), have received your conference submissions by now and am assuming that they’re already busy organizing Program Committee reviewers for each manuscript.

ACM SIGDOC 2011’s Program Committee consists of an unprecedented 70 communication design, information development, human-computer interaction, and information technology specialists. The Program Committee’s composition is impressive and notably international: 13 members are from Brazil, 3 from Canada, 4 from France, 1 from Finland, 2 from Germany, 7 from Greece, 2 from Italy, 4 from Portugal, 7 from the UK, and 27 members are from the USA. Questions about getting involved in the conference planning are welcomed and can be directed either to me ( ) or to the conference Chairs, Aristidis Protopsaltis ( or Nicola Spyratos ( If your are in Italy or near Pisa and want to get involved in the conference on-site planning, feel free to contact Francesca Borri (, our Local Arrangements Chair.

As always, ACM SIGDOC members receive a discounted rate for this year’s conference ($125 less than non-members). We have tried to keep the conference registration fee reasonable, realizing that, for those of you in North and South America, international travel is difficult given the current economic conditions. Next year’s conference will be held in Seattle, WA, and the ACM Board is currently discussing how to balance regional conference activities with ACM goals for international outreach and collaboration. These issues are important to us, as a SIG, given our slowly dropping membership numbers and our goals of supporting and enhancing your professional and disciplinary goals.

Finally, I encourage you to take a look at the June 2011 issue of “Communications of the ACM,” 54 (6). Two articles that should be of particular interest to communication design professionals include Marina Krakovsky’s “All the News That’s Fit for You” (pp. 20-21), about personalized news strategies, challenges, and issues, and Massimo Franceschet’s “PageRank: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” (pp. 82-101), about the history of search engines and biometric, sociometric, and econometric approaches in search engine development. If you’re interested in exploring alternatives to Google (imagine that!), you might want to try out Bing (, dogpile (, IceRocket (, ixquick (, or kartoo ( As well, in the spirit of sharing interesting and/or thought-provoking URLs, I recommend that you take a moment to explore the following:

– Paleo Future: The Future that Never was (
– The Jobs of Yesteryear: Obsolete Occupations (
– the Internet Archive: Digital Library of Free Books, Movies, Music & Wayback Machine (
– Prelinger Archives: Free Movies: Download & Streaming (

I’ve been reading a lot about the history of computing, including our own R. John Brockmann’s (ACM SIGDOC Chair, 1989-1993) “Twisted Rails, Sunken Ships: The Rhetoric of Nineteenth Century Steamboat and Railroad Accident Investigation Reports, 1833-1879” (Baywood’s Technical Communications Series, 2004) and, so, the inherent rhetorical tension between technical facts and statistics and engaging stories and details has me searching for websites that are designed to report on or present historical developments.

Or, if you’re in a more mischievous mood (but still language sensitive), I’d recommend that view Stephen Fry’s “Kinetic Typography” ( or Taylor Mali’s “Like, You Know” (

Looking very forward to seeing you in October!


Brad Mehlenbacher
Associate Professor, Distance Learning (LPAHE),
Allied Faculty Member, Ergonomics (PSYCH),
Affiliated Faculty, PhD in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media (ENG/COMM), and the Digital Games Research Center (CSE)
NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-7801
919.515.6242 (ph) (e-mail) (url)

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