As you already know...
... I travel a good deal for my work. In a typical year, I attend 3 or 4 technical conferences, which are largely meetings where researchers in my field get together to deliver papers on their latest research. We listen, ask questions, argue with each other a bit, and try to figure out how stuff operates.
|The Wilson library at UNC Chapel Hill.|
Now, you might think this is incredibly tedious stuff, but it's also the mill that grinds the flour of science from raw kernels of ideas into refined understanding about how the world works.
I'm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for a conference that's called Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval. It's a nice, smallish conference of people who, like me, wonder about how people search for information online. (Imagine that! There are conferences all about SearchResearch!)
For SRS purposes, such scientific conferences can be incredibly useful collections of information on topics that might not yet be reflected in common web content, magazines, or books. In many ways, the list of conference papers tells you a lot about the topic area of the conference.
Thinking about this prompted the following couple of Search Research Challenges for this week.
1. Conferences typically have papers that are classified as "Best Paper." What was the title of the Best Paper for this year's Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval?
2. Who was opening keynote speaker at CHIIR 2010? (No, I'm not crazy--I'm asking this for a specific reason that I'll reveal on Monday.) BTW, why is this special talk called a "keynote" anyway?
3. While the conference papers are great to listen to, a great deal of work happens by walking around. While walking with a colleague, I found this flower growing just outside the conference meeting place on the side of the road. What is it? (And, aside from enjoying flowers, do you have any idea why I might be asking this apparently out-of-place question?)
4. What is the largest scientific conference that's held somewhere in the world each year (annually)?
I'm here today, and then heading off to DC on Thursday in my role as itinerant scholar. But I'll answer these Challenges on Monday, and you'll see why I'm asking such funny questions.
As always, please tell us not just your answers, but also HOW you found the answers to these questions about scholarly conferences.