The CSCW 2004 conference this week was a nice change of pace for me from full time work with a client. It also provided me a venue to think and talk about what I am doing as a knowledge management consultant with a crowd that generally understands the concept. My description is still a lot longer than "I'm an engineer" that used to garner some immediate understanding.
My interests in knowledge management and other consulting work intersect with CSCW in several ways. The whole concept of how our technologies shape how we work is very interesting, from personal effectiveness to the effectiveness of the larger organization. In my consulting, I have taken the line that organizations need to consider how and why they are working with their collective knowledge (transfer, transform, translate), regardless of any technology. With that understanding, we can then move forward with thinking around what to do with it. I am also very in tune with the idea that collaboration is crucial to much of the business the world conducts. I am mostly concerned with how to help people move in the right direction, but obviously working the technical end and seeing what is possible is a big help. The area where I haven't focused as much attention is the behavioral realities behind why people operate they way they do. The CSCW community is loaded with sociologists that think directly about these things.
Given that this particular conference is a new venue for me, it offered a new group of people to get to know and a new style of research to read and hear. CSCW is fairly academic in nature, so the style of the conference was familiar from my days at the academic chemical engineering conferences. And after the first few papers, a "style" became evident with the way research was presented. (Not terribly insightful, but it helped to understand the larger picture of what was being presented.)
We ended up not doing a bloggers dinner because the Tuesday reception was a fully catered shindig at the Art Institute. Of course, there were other bloggers, besides those I mentioned earlier. These popped up in conversation or in my Feedster search for mentions of CSCW:
Azzari Jarrett of hardscrabble and Northwestern
Richard Hodkinson of hurtling.com
Joe McCarthy of Gumption
Jennifer Kurkoski of Did someone say dissertation? and Berkeley
and others who mentioned blogging, but I didn't get their names and/or they didn't point to their blogs.