One of the unexpected benefits of accepting an invitation to speak at SIGMOD 2009 was an invitation from fellow participant Martin Wattenberg to attend the upcoming Transparent Text symposium at the IBM Center for Social Software:
The Transparent Text symposium is a free event that will focus on ways to make large collections of documents understandable to laypeople and experts alike. We are interested in approaches that shed light on unstructured text, ranging from novel statistical techniques to web-based crowdsourcing.
The speaker list is impressive, ranging from familiar (at least to me) interface experts Ben Fry and Marti Hearst to social scientist Gary King and Sunlight Foundation Executive Director Ellen Miller. IBM also contributed some of its own researchers to the program, including David Ferrucci, who has been leading the Jeopardy project. There’s even an “Ignite-style” session where all attendees will have the opportunity to give five-minute presentations.
I’m looking forward to the eclectic mix of speakers and attendees. As Chris Dixon recently reminded us, it’s important to introduce some randomization into our intellectual diets so that we don’t get stuck in a rut of local optimization. While an event with a theme of transparency and interacting with textual information is hardly a detour for me, I am excited about the opportunity to hear a diversity of new perspectives on this topic. There will be videos of the speakers posted after the event, as well as a Twitter stream at #tt09.
Of course, I’ll blog about what I learn and recycle it in the discussion activities at the HCIR workshop next month.