WWW2006 Conference Wrap-Up


Rent-a-cop at the
convention center.  They look very professional here.
Rent-a-cop at the convention center. They look very professional here.
(click to enlarge)

So, WWW2006 is wrapping up. There are still a few sessions and dinner tonight with some new friends, but for the most part it's done.

Overall, this has been a good conference. When I looked at the conference program before I came it was overwhelming and, frankly, there wasn't much that looked all that interesting based on the titles that I scanned. In spite of that, when I got here, I found that it was rather easy to focus on specific tracks that looked interesting and there were numerous sessions that I enjoyed.

The conference center itself is a nice place. There's even a concierge to arrange dinner plans, taxis and what not. There are a lot of support staff from the conference center directing people where to go, a lot of people from "In Any Event" the professional conference group who's running the details, and students from Southhampton University. Putting on a conference of this size is a lot of work and the organizers deserve credit for pulling it off admirably. All in all things ran very smoothly.

Endinburgh Internation
Conference Center
Endinburgh Internation Conference Center
(click to enlarge)

This is a big conference--I heard 1200 people registered. Apparently the Edinburgh Conference Center is charging them 500,000 pounds for hosting it here. Not sure if that's high or low for an event this size, but it seems expensive. That explains the steep conference fee. I was a little put off by that and I've talked to others that were as well.

I've heard quite a bit of complaining about the multi-track system offering competing sessions on the same subject at the same time. That's a problem at any conference, but with one that's got 11 tracks going on simultaneously, it's inevitable. Having tutorials going throughout the conference instead of on the first few days hasn't helped.

The call for papers is up for WWW2007. I think the topic areas tend to pigeonhole this conference into being not as widely accepted and used as it could be. For example, there academic research sessions on semantic Web (several) plus the W3C has it's own tracks that focus on that as well. That gives this conference a decided "semantic web" feel. I heard REST mentioned only a few times and mostly in a disparaging context.

Concierge at EICC
Concierge at EICC
(click to enlarge)

Tim Bray says this conference used to be great. I think it's OK, but I wonder how much better it might be if the topic areas were more broadly inclusive and it were held in major metro areas that were easier to get to instead of various exotic locations (two years ago it was in Brazil, last year in Japan, next year it's in Banff Canada). Nothing against those places, but this conference ought to have 2500-3000 people attending. On the other hand with only 11% paper acceptance, maybe it's popular enough.

The crowd here is mostly unknown to me from other conferences that I go to. There are a few cross-over people like Rohit Khare, but not many. Nevertheless, there is material here that should be of interest to those groups as well. We need venues for academic and industry types to mix and share ideas. I was hoping the WWW conference would be that venue, but it doesn't appear so.