Web Conference 2019
Last week saw the latest incarnation of the Web Conference (previously known as WWW or dubdubdub), going from May 15 to 17 (with satellite events the two days before). When I was still in academia, WWW was one of the most prestigious conference series for my research area, so when it came to be held literally across the street from my office, I couldn’t resist going to it.
The conference featured two keynotes (the third, by Lawrence Lessig, was cancelled on short notice due to a family emergency):
- Google’s Jeff Dean was giving a rather mind-blowing talk on the advances of machine learning in the last year or two, particularly focusing on medicine and auto-ML, but covering all kind of advances from chips, TPUs, programming frameworks, to use cases such as early detection of diabetes or cancer.
- TED fellow Claire Wardle talked about the health of the information ecosystem on the Web (or, as I would put it, about fake news, and why that is a bad term), and it was refreshingly nuanced, thought-provoking, and lacking answers - but describing and circumscribing the problem much better than I have seen it before.
I have no idea if the talks are available as a video stream, but if they are, both are very much worth the time to watch them (if they are, let me know and I will link to them).
The conference was attended by more than 1,400 people (closer to 1,600?), making it the second largest since its inception (trailing only Lyon from last year), and about double the size than it used to be only four or five years ago. The conference dinner in the Exploratorium was relaxed and enjoyable. Acceptance rate was at 18%, which made for 225 accepted full papers.
The proceedings are available for free (yay!), so browse them for papers you find interesting. Personally, I really enjoyed the papers that looked into the use of WhatsApp to spread misinformation before the Brazil election, Dataset Search, and pre-empting SPARQL queries from blocking the endpoint. The proceedings span 5,047 pages, and are available online.
I had the feeling that Machine Learning was taking much more space in the program than it used to when I used to attend the conference regularly - which is fine, but many of the ML papers were only tenuously connected to the Web (which was the same criticism that we raised against many of the Semantic Web / Description Logic papers back then).
The two workshops I attended before the Web Conference were the Knowledge Graph Technology and Applications 2019 workshop on Monday, and the Wiki workshop 2019 on Tuesday. They have their own trip reports.
If you have trip reports, let me know and I will link to them.
Wiki workshop 2019
The end of civilization?