Wednesday, April 26, 2006
But Not For Godot
(Notification of Acceptance Due)

It's always the same when you are waiting for things to happen. Even if you have a date, you are hoping things will happen early. They never do, but you still come in every day expecting to see the email, and ultimately you start every day with a sense of disappointment. We are supposed to hear about our recent conference submission at the end of this week. We know it's good work but we are keen to see how well it has gone over within a circle we've not previously moved in.

If nothing else, hearing that we have been accepted confirms the to-be-published status of the work and we can start letting people have a look at it. I think it's interesting stuff, and from the people we have talked with, we've had some good feedback. I've been waiting to talk more about it for a couple of months now. What we've done puts it among the first generation of work to attempt to do so, and we are hoping it will be just the start of something awesome.

I hope I've not built it up too can's great stuff!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006
He's In Fashion
(Symposium Feedback)
So I was interested to read some feedback on my post reviewing the recent CAAW symposium for it made Amanda and I very proud. I'm proud because someone enjoyed the humour in my slides (I could tell from the giggles that not everyone noticed/got my references). I think humour is important in conference/symposium presentations. When you are to be listening to talks all day long it can become very tedious if they are all completely dry and boring. I like to educate AND entertain. Also, if you want just the facts, academically presented, the paper is always there to be read. So I'm honoured that someone appreciated my attempts to bring a smile to the proceedings.

Amanda, my wife and stylist is proud that I am considered among the best dressed attendees :D She gave herself a pat on the back, and is delighted her work is getting some recognition. We both thank you.

You being a newbie in the world of blog research - Erin O'Connor, doing her M.A. at San Diego looking to extract temporal expression from blogs. She claims she doesn't have much to say about it at this point, but i'm sure she will. It is an interesting direction to come from, and could yield some good results for future study of blogs.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006
I made this
Consumer Generated Media

So this was an expression I first heard at the recent AAAI Weblog symposium - weblogs are a type of consumer generated media. With weblogs and wikis and comments and podcasts and all the different ways technology is enabling the people to have a voice, it makes sense to have one term to rule them all. However, that I heard the term used first in the industry panel, and the very use of the word consumer, the intention is clear.

We are fodder. What for has not been decided yet, but it was clear that the panel are looking for uses for the media they allow their users...sorry, generate. Hey, we designed this cool tool that you like using, what are you going to give to us? It's all wrapped up in enabling the consumer though. Hey, if we know more about you, we can help you better. There is talk of marketing of money, the user is a consumer not a customer - the customers are people who pay the big bucks, the advertisers, the marketing men, the governments...maybe. Personalisation is the future!

Of course, this leaves me in a somewhat hypocritical position. Of all the things that you can learn about a person...their favourite soft drink, what kind of movies they like, how many friends they have/want...surely the most personal thing you can learn is their personality. Now, I know that everyone is different and my work makes generalisations...but still, I am aiming to learn about personality from langauge. People don't like to be pigeonholed, people don't like to be put in a box with all the people they are supposed to be the same as...but at the same time, people love to know what makes them different and unique.

I'm honestly not sure where I'm going with this. I guess it's one of those stream of consciousness posts you here about on the blogvine. I'd be interested to here what other people think about this? How do you feel about services being tailored to meet you specific requirements? How far do you think this should go? Are you okay with only being different from most people?

Just a little something to contemplate over the Easter weekend. I'll be interested to see what people have to say upon my return from the Cotswolds.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006
This Post Has No Title
When you are trying to find out what someone is saying in a blog, you look to their posts ... obviously! For a quick summary you look to the title. It is really helpful, particularly when searching for information, if the title of the post is relevant to the content. Anyone who has read this blog for some time will be aware that while mine are, it is often tenuous and obscure. It is hard sometimes to see what my post may be about from the title. Subsequently, unless I use specific words in my posts, someone searching for information of which I may have something to say may not find my sage words. There was a great deal of talk at the symposium of searching in blogs, I know it is a big deal these days.

Does this mean I should stop titling the way I do? Notice that I titled the last post as accurately as I could in case anynoe from the symposium was searching for people's thoughts on the events. Should I introduce a second more specific sub-title? Much like my Master's thesis, smart AND practical: Being John Motson - Towards a computation model of football commentary.

Monday, April 03, 2006
AAAI CAAW-2006 Review
As promised a more full review of the symposium. For starters, our observation when we arrived in Palo Alto is that it is a very new place, very artificial. It has some very nice restaurants, though there are very few bars, and the place basically has no atmosphere. Maybe it was that we where there in Spring Break, but I'm not sure thousands of student would have made it any better. A soul-less place.

Stanford University has a very impressive campus, which covers a lot of space. It was a very good thing that they do a handy bus service taking you round the campus, otherwise we would have had no idea where to go. They really do have everything you could possibly want on campus. Very insulated community. Lots of squirrels.

So the symposium...As I said in the previous post there were some very interesting talks. There was quite a lot on sentiment/opinion extraction from weblogs, there was work on friend recommendation, there was a comparison on scoops in blogs versus newspapers, and a number of very interesting talks from the folks at Nielson Buzzmetrics. There was a panel session with various industry folk, but to be honest it could have been far more interesting. Good to see bitching and snideness present everywhere.

And of course, then there was the work most relevant to mine, that concerned with age and gender identification. Lots of similar things found in many different ways. Very interesting.

So I also got to talk to very interesting people. I got a good chance to chat with Buzzmetrics' Matt Hurst covering plenty of on-topic ideas and, Matt being ex of Edinburgh, many an off-topic reminiscence (turns Matt and I both learnt Japanese at the same place).

I was also very fortunate to get to talk to Shlomo Argamon. Most of my work has some reference to his studies, particularly his gender classification work. It was unfortunate that we did not get as much time to talk shop and throw ideas around as I would have liked. His recent work is the closest to what we have been doing recently, and he has a lot of really good ideas.

I had some very interesting discussions with many other people besides: Mirko Tavosanis at Pisa, Diego Reforgiato from Maryland, Richard Tong of Tarragon Consulting, Sandy Rosenburg from Media Research Associates, Hong Qu all the way from Berkeley and Bettina Berendt from Humboldt, Berlin. I'm sure there are more, so I'm sorry if I've not mentioned anyone.

Too much waffle I know, so in summary it was a very interesting symposium, well worth attending. There is some very interesting work out there, and some very interesting people. Yes, I've said interesting a lot, but it really was. Now I just have to report back to Jon about as much as I can remember - I don't actually know if he actually reads this?! Finally, thanks to Nicolas Nicolov for all the help with my attendance, and Doug Oard for not only being entertaining, but for being the only to person to cite our work!! How lax of everyone else!

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