Search-Related Conferences: Where’s The Beef?

The other day, Stephen Arnold published a post entitled “Conference Spam or Conference Prime Rib” bemoaning “an increasing amount of conference spam” in the enterprise search space. Sharing his frustration with the marketing and hype that passes for technical discussion in this field, I posted a comment extolling the upcoming SIGIR Industry Track as an opportunity to bring some substance to the conversation.

To my delight, Arnold included the comment in a follow-up blog entry today. While I don’t take this as an explicit endorsement, I find his arguments very consonant with the case I made in my call to action several months ago. Moreover, Arnold doesn’t mince words when it comes to criticizing trade shows in which “the real losers are the attendees who spend money and invest time to hear lousy speakers or sales pitches advertised as original, substantive talks.”

Over the next months, I’m attending the Enterprise Search Summit, presenting at the Infonortics Search Engine Meeting, and organizing the SIGIR Industry Track. I’m also presenting at Discover, Endeca’s annual user conference. At all of these events, I expect substance, not warmed-over sales pitches. Hopefully these two posts on Arnold’s widely read blog will help inspire such an outcome, or at least will serve to shame some of the worst offenders.

By Daniel Tunkelang

High-Class Consultant.

7 replies on “Search-Related Conferences: Where’s The Beef?”

I work with designing search interfaces and I am looking for good search conferences that also cover the usability and design aspects of search technology. It’s hard to find good conferences that cover this area. (General HCI conferences tend not to cover this, at least not to the depth that would interest me and my colleagues.)

SIGIR is in the middle of our summer vacation period so that is not an option for us. Do you have any suggestions for good conferences that cover this topic?


When I attended the Infonortics SE Meeting conference in 2006 I wasn’t impressed. I thought many of the talks were vendor pitches or they lacked depth. I probably wouldn’t attend again. In contrast, a conference like WWW has a better academic-industrial mix, although there is probably less coverage of enterprise search.


Daniel, do consider attending the 2009 Text Analytics Summit, June 1-2 in Boston. Would you be interested in giving a talk?

I’m planning to attend the Enterprise Search Summit in NYC. I’m slated to give a talk on sentiment analysis.


Jeff, this will be my first time at Infonortics, and I’ll share my impressions afterward. I despise vendor pitches–if nothing else, because they aren’t very effective as sales tools. Especially not to an audience who paid to be there. You can get a sales pitch for free–with wining and dining included if you play your cards right. As for depth, that’s a bit trickier. Some of it may be a function of the audience. It’s hard to calibrate a presentation to a diverse audience. I try–as you can see in the presentations I’ve shared here–but I don’t know how well I succeed.

Seth, I’ll look into it. I know that Endeca has sent people in the past. Unfortunately, this year it’s right before Discover ’09, Endeca’s annual user conference, and I’m not sure I can manage both (and my family gets a vote too). Since Endeca is paying my mortgage, my participation in Discover is non-negotiable.


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