Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Days 1 to 4 - The Conference - Work

I hope you already know that I am writing about my visit to Edinburgh for WWW - a description of Day 0 is here.

The World Wide Web conference was hosted in the EICC - a beautiful sandstone building situated in the middle of Edinburgh. My hotel was only a 5 minute walk, which was pretty lucky for me. The first day had a welcome by traditional bagpiper players wearing the kilt and all the necessary accessories, and there were also 2 dancers doing a Scottish dance wearing the female version of the kilt. (Not too sure if thats a skirt, cause it was the same colour, texture, pattern as of the kilt).

I attended a lot of interesting talks, but it was a little difficult to understand the accents of the researchers from Microsoft Research, Asia (which I felt very bad about). I also attended a tutorial on Web advertising by Yahoo! researchers Ricardo Baeza Yates, Andrei Broder, and Prabhakar Raghavan, which was pretty interesting and almost like a guest lecture in CS610 (the IIT web mining course conducted by Soumen). Thanks to parallelism in talks, tutorials and workshops, I could attend only 1 workshop which was on data logging, which was also pretty interesting.

Thanks to the popularity of WWW, it is now also pretty popular with the corporate world, due to which I got to attend some "non-tech" talks by the Ask.com Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President Tao Yang, and also a panel on "Creating successful Web based Business", and another one on "The Next Wave of the Web", which also had Tim Berner Lee as a part of the panel.

A major crib that I had was that thanks to a packed schedule, I didn't get any time to see a single poster :(, which I felt v bad about later.

I gave a talk as well on my paper, which was reasonably well received, thanks to all the advice that Soumen gave me, and all the practice talks which I gave to my friends @ IIT who gave me some pretty good advice.

A second major crib was the bad food that they served during the conference. Thanks to the fact that the English are not exactly well-known for their culinery skills, the conference had other cuisines instead for lunch. First day was Italian(pasta and some gravy), the second was Mexican(Chili corn and Mexican rice), the third was Chinese(macroni and some gravy), and the final day had traditional Scottish food (boiled potatoes and gravy). The common denominator was that the food was bad on all 4 days. Luckily, my hotel served breakfast so I could eat a heavy breakfast, and not mind eating a little bad food for lunch, but people who skipped breakfast due to budget constraints has a bad time. In spite of this, by the fourth day, I was frustrated enough to treat myself to some good food outside for lunch. However, I stupidly assumed that my lunch bills would not be refunded(since the conference people are providing lunch), so I didn't take a bill, only to find out later that of course, any expenses that I had made would have been refunded. :(

Even worse, the conference reception didn't have food - only drinks !! Now thats a dinner that only the Scottish can serve !

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