August 6, 2006

SIGIR ’06 – Day 0: Welcoming Reception

Posted in Conferences, sigir2006 at 11:47 pm by mj

After a fourteen hour drive shared with my wife, I arrived in time to check into my hotel, check in to the conference, and attend the welcoming reception. I’m sure I looked like a walking zombie.

First, let me say that I am a bit out of my league here. I did not go down the mathematical/theoretical route with my career, and I have, thus far, not been able to take Webshots’ search where I believe it should go. So I am a bit embarrassed introducing myself to the people here, since most of them are either researching in an academic environment or applying theory on a large-ish scale.

The first thing that has struck me is how heavily dominated by the GYM team this conference is. While it’s the largest SIGIR to date, my guess is most of that’s due to the GYM recruiting competition: by my count, 135 of the 653 official attendees are from Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft (that’s 20%!!!). The largest contingent, of course, being from Microsoft (maybe 70?). Every one of the grad students in attendence can look forward to a lucrative career. 🙂

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at the hotel, and my Webshots account is having trouble accepting mobile uploads from my phone. (See? Even Webshots engineers sometimes have problems. And yes, I did track down the issue. And no, I can not magically push the fix through in the middle of the night. What I can do is call customer support in the morning…) I have some grainy photos of the Microsoft and Google booths sitting side-by-side: a match made in, um, Seattle.

The welcoming reception was all right. I expected a half hour of socializing followed by two hours of (essentially boring) speeches, announcements, introductions, instructions, etc. Instead, we had a relaxing 30-minute bus ride to Boeing’s Future of Flight Museum, several hours of socialing/networking/recruiting in a party-like atmosphere, pretty good food, and five minutes of “screw it. we’re not going to bore you. welcome to sigir. now get back to socializing.”

But, as I said, I was a walking zombie and talked to only a few people. My natural shyness didn’t help, of course.

Tomorrow, the real interesting stuff begins. But for now, I need some rest in a real bed.

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