Blog Category: Events

Twitter and disasters waiting to happen

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The recent earthquake in Haiti has attracted attention from Twitter users and researchers. Twitter has been used to collect donations, to contact people on the ground, to coordinate relief efforts, etc. Recently, U. Colorado’s EPIC Group proposed a hash-tag-based syntax on top of Twitter messages to help automate the parsing of actionable messages, and to do so effectively and reliably. This is a noble effort, but as Manas Tungare points out, the proposed syntax is too complex for its intended users, who have more pressing issues than dealing with hash tags.

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Oops. Offline for a day.


Sorry for being AWOP (away without posts).   We upgraded the underlying OS on this server, and in the process we made the machine non-bootable.  It was booting from a logical volume, which is illogical.  And after the upgrade, not a valid drive.   And since this isn’t “mission critical”, we didn’t have a hot spare.   So, this is now the backup of WordPress restored to a wiped-clean and re-installed machine.   I think it is close to back-to-normal.  Never upgrade a machine if you don’t remember exactly how and why it was set up the way it was (random chance or old poor decisions?).  Thanks to my anonymous colleagues for fixing it.

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Workshop: Virtual Worlds in 2020

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A quick pointer to a workshop sponsored by SDForum’s Virtual Worlds SIG  (which I co-chair along with Bob Ketner of The Tech and  Eilif Trondsen of SRI-BI):

The “Virtual Worlds in 2020” Workshop
Palo Alto, CA
Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2009

From the program description:
This is the 3rd annual “Future of Virtual Worlds” session – the Virtual Worlds in 2020 Workshop. This year it’s an interactive workshop where you can bring ideas, input, and questions for a rare, long term view of virtual worlds, at the Virtual Worlds SIG.

In just a few weeks we enter a new decade equipped with abilities that existed only in science fiction a few years ago. Although plans for using using graphical, collaborative virtual worlds predate the internet itself by many years, many advances in productivity remain unclaimed. It’s time now to take a look ahead. This workshop will produce a set of inputs showing what might be possible – along with a list of challenges to be overcome along the way over the next decade. Continue Reading

Getting a CLuE

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An NSF-funded cloud computing event is coming to the Bay Area.

In October 2007, Google and IBM announced the first pilot phase of the Academic Cloud Computing Initiative (ACCI), which granted several prominent U.S. universities access to a large computer cluster running Hadoop, an open source distributed computing platform inspired by Google’s file system and MapReduce programming model. In February 2008, the ACCI partnered with the National Science Foundation to provide grant funding to academic researchers interested in exploring large-data applications that could take advantage of this infrastructure. This resulted in the creation of the Cluster Exploratory (CLuE) program led by Dr. Jim French, which currently funds 14 projects. See this NSF Press Release for a short description of all the projects funded under the CLuE program.

The event will be held on October 5th in the Computer History Museum (the current home of the Babbage Difference Engine No2 Serial #2), and will feature a great lineup of researchers reporting on their accomplishments in a variety of disciplines, including indexing for search, data processing, machine translation, text processing, databases, visualization, and other cloud computing topics. You can get more details about the schedule and the speakers here, and click here to register.

A tale of two islands

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ECDL 2009 is taking place this week, and those of us who could not make it to Corfu will have to settle for the island experience of the Second (Life) Kind. Just as JCDL 2009 did earlier this summer, the ECDL 2009 Poster Session is available for viewing online through SecondLife. The real Poster Session will take place Monday, September 28th,  (7-9pm EET, 12:00-14:00 EST, 9-11am PDT), with a parallel session in SecondLife that will continue long after the real one ends.

The complete list of posters is available here; I am looking forward to “Improving annotations in digital documents,” “Searching in a book,” and “Workspace narrative exploration: overcoming interruption-caused context loss in information seeking tasks.”

There are some interesting papers at ECDL as well, including

NPUC vs. SCofC


Every year since 1993, IBM Almaden has organized a one-day research/technology conference called New Paradigms in Using Computers (NPUC). This year’s theme, organized by Jeff Pierce and John Barton,  is “The Future of Design and Software Development” Featured speakers include Brad Myers, Ethan Eismann, Gina Venolia, Caitlin Kelleher, Kimberley Peter, and Rastislav Bodik. In addition to the speakers, there are lots of demos both from within IBM and from others.

I was looking forward to attending again, particularly because I had at one point considered looking at the HCI of programming for my dissertation. Instead, I  will be spending at least part of the day in Redwood City in a jury selection process for the Superior Court of California that did not conclude today.

This is the closest I’ve ever gotten to being on a jury in 26 years of being a registered voter in California, and I admit to mixed feelings about tomorrow’s decision: On one hand, it would be interesting to observe  a trial and (hopefully) see justice done, but on the other hand, I can certainly find more productive things to do for the next three weeks.

ps: For those who cannot attend but are not trapped by the legal system, streaming video of the event will be available.

What do ABBA, the Wikipedia, picture books, Indian villages, and exploratory search have in common?


On June 18th, I am chairing the morning papers session at JCDL 2009. The session includes three full and to short papers covering a wide and interesting swath of research. The first two look at how content is tagged and created, the second two describe experiences around designing for mobile access to digital libraries, and the last paper presents empirical results of a study of a faceted search interface for exploratory search.

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JCDL 2009 and Second Life

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The ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL)  2009 program is up. The conference will take place June 15-19 in Austin, TX.  It looks to be a good conference, featuring two keynote speakers:  Christine Borgman, Professor & Presidential Chair in Information Studies at UCLA and Gerhard Fischer, Director of the Center for Lifelong Learning and Design and a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

There is a new wrinkle to the Poster Session: In addition to the physical posters at the conference site, there will be a parallel Second Life session  that will allow remote participation from those who were not able to make it to the conference. Once the (virtual) poster selection is finalized, instructions on how to get to it through Second Life will be posted on the conference web site (and echoed here).

There is no team in “Tony”

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One of my co-workers is crazy. Well, possibly more than one, but I will start with one. His nuttiness manifests itself in many ways, most notable among which is his propensity to run long races. I am not talking about 10k races or marathons here. I mean 50, 100, or more mile runs. Uphill. Both ways.

As I write, Tony is running a relay race. The 199 mile route goes from Calistoga to Santa Cruz and consists of 12 stages. Of course Tony is running it by himself. (He got a bit of a head start from the race officials.) You can track his progress here, and read a SFGate piece on his obsession here.

Usually these kinds of runs are accompanied by some adventures or misadventures. There was the time that runners got chased — and stung — by a swarm of bees. There was the runners’ aid station in Paris serving wine instead of water. What will happen this time? Flash floods in Napa? Irate drivers in San Francisco? Driving rain in Daly city? Crazed surfers on the way to Santa Cruz? Stay tuned.

Ada Lovelace Day


Ada Lovelace Day is today, March 24.

There’s a movement afoot to celebrate by blogging about women in technology and the sciences. More than 1500 bloggers have signed up; you can see the results listed here.

Here’s my contribution: Women in Industrial Research Labs.

In honor of Ada Lovelace Day, I’d like to raise a glass of virtual bubbly to all the amazing women scientists and researchers in the industrial research labs I’ve worked in… especially the ones who inspired and mentored (and hired) me.  More below the fold – but first:

Pop! hisssss…gurggurgle… Continue Reading