Sunday, November 17, 2013

Professor for one year (week 27): Conference season

In the first half of September, I had my conference tour: From a private visit in Paris, I flew to Berlin for two workshops, than back home to Zurich for one day, and than to Florence for a conference.  As I had had no time for writing something to submit to ACL, NAACL, and RANLP, I did not attend conferences in August and unfortunately did not meet with some colleagues.

However, I was invited as speaker at the workshop Corpus-based historical linguistics (CBHL) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.  I talked about challenges and solutions for retrieval and annotation of German phrasemes in heterogeneous diachronic TEI corpora, i.e., what I implemented for the OLdPhras project to help phraseologists search phrasemes in Early New High German texts when no linguistic annotation is available.

The next day, together with Michael Piotrowski, I organized the Third International Workshop on Systems and Frameworks for Computational Morphology (SFCM 2013) which also took place at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.  We had seven interesting talks and an additional invited talk (also with a publication in the proceedings).

Although both events are labeled "workshop", there is a huge difference: The first one was a linguistics workshop and the latter one a computational linguistics workshop.

  • For CBHL, all speakers had been invited by the organizer who set the topic and attracted the audience.  Each speaker gave a longer talk of about 50 minutes and then there was some time for discussion.  So a "workshop" is more something like a place for getting to know various research, it's not a place to actually work on something together as it might be the case in rhetoric and composition.  There will be no publication, so this is only for the "Talks" section in your publication list. Sometimes, somebody arranges for a special issue in a journal or an edited volume in a book series and asks participants to contribute to this publication.  So maybe you write an article about the things you presented and some years after the workshop, your contribution is published.
    The work we presented at the Conference on New Methods in Historical Corpora in Manchester in April 2011, finally has been published some weeks ago in a volume of the series Korpuslinguistik und interdisziplinäre Perspektiven auf Sprache (CLIP). Meanwhile, the project for which we announced how to proceed, is finished.
  • SFCM 2013, and workshops in NLP in general, are more small-scale conferences: There had been a call for papers (full papers of 10 to 20 pages according to LNCS style, not 300-words abstracts!) to be reviewed in a double-blind fashion by the members of the program committee.  We accepted seven of 15 papers to be published in the proceedings of the workshop and to be presented at the workshop (acceptance rate for workshops is usually higher than for high-end conferences, where you have a 20 to 25% acceptance rate).  All authors got elaborate feedback from at least three reviewers; for accepted papers, authors had to revise their papers considering reviewer comments to submit a final version compliant with given style guidelines 10 weeks before the workshop.  We (the organizers) then edited the proceedings: writing a preface, creating author indexes and table of contents, fixing style violations, rearranging tables and figures -- i.e., creating a camera-ready version of the proceedings.  Everything was then shipped to the publisher who sent galley proofs to all authors and the editors two weeks later.  And one week before the workshop, we received the printed volumes.  So as organizers, there is no work left after the workshop and participants and everybody else can read about the work presented.  It's a very fast process and it helps to make recent research available almost immediately.
    So here, "workshop" is also a bit misleading in general.  However, for SFCM we incorporate a bit of the literal meaning by having a two-hour demo session where participants (no matter if they gave a talk or are listening only) share recent developments, can get help with implementation issues (in 2011, the invited speaker Lauri Karttunen helped fixing some bugs in XFST scripts) and maybe prepare collaborations.
After SFCM, I went to the 13th ACM Symposium on Document Engineering (DocEng) in Florence.  Although ACM is the professional association for computer science, conferences follow the same schema as in computational linguistics.  At DocEng 2013, I organized and chaired the first doctoral consortium (ProDoc@DocEng).  The symposium took place in a former church, which was an impressive room, but resulted in challenging acoustics.  However, ProDoc@DocEng was a success, the students got a lot of encouraging and challenging feedback, and I will organize the consortium again at DocEng 2014.  There where a lot of interesting talks and activities at DocEng, I met old friends and we made plans for future activities within DocEng.

When I came back after these two exciting weeks, I actually was a bit exhausted and needed some days to sort ideas, links, papers and papers, and catch up with e-mail messages and other deadlines.  However, this is how conference season ends, it's part of the game.

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