I’m currently at ACM SAC 2008, in beautiful Fortaleza (Brazil). The conference has a number of tracks; many of them are very interesting and they cover a very broad range of topics. I’ve jumped around through a few different sessions, including CISIA (Computational Logic and Computational Intelligence in Signal and Image Analysis), WT (Web Technologies), IAR (Information Access & Retrieval), SWA (The Semantic Web and Applications), and MMV (Multimedia and Visualisation). The TRECK track, where I am presenting, is on the last day of the conference.
Looking at the titles of the papers to be presented, each session promised to be very exciting; and even if I am no expert in the field I wanted to see what I could get out of it. Unfortunately, in a lot of the sessions I have attended as many as 3/5 of the presenters did not show up, leaving the session chairs in a very embarassing situation. In one case, a session ended early and so I went to the next room. I got there in time to hear the chair ending that session as well due to no-shows: very dissapointing. I’ve seen presenters leaving a session once their bit is done, and not contribute to discussions that they are supposed to be experts in, leaving only the session chairs to ask questions.
To make matters worse, some of the presentations I have seen have been quite poor. They all follow the same formula: title, outline, a bunch of slides where the presenter reads what is on the slide, conclusion where they repeat what they just presented, and future work: power point karaoke at its best. I understand that some may follow this method due to difficulties with English, but they do not even sound interested in their own work. They also immediately dive into the details or cite other papers without explaining why, forgetting that some (like me) may be there to learn something new and need the broad strokes of the picture first. (I’m no expert at presenting; however, there are lots of resources on presenting on Daniele’s page here). It makes attendance at the sessions even more difficult!
Overall, the conference has been organized well, and is running smoothly. The track chairs obviously put a lot of work into this, and it should be an ideal opportunity to mingle with a range of researchers… but the participants are not doing a very good job! I’ll write a separate post about the interesting presentations I have seen.