Nov 5, 2010

VisWeek 2010, Salt lake city, Utah

Now attending conferences like Visweek  is more fun with twitter ! yeahh.. I could see who is twitting about which session, and the use of hashtag has made it way easier to search ( and find people of similar interest) , and this year the VisualBackChannel was another cool webapp (?) that made the experience more interesting. And during the VAST Closing panel speech on Tuesday, Ben S. showed the network diagram of people who are twitting about VisWeek'10 and how they are linked with one another. The audience got super excited to see their names as nodes in that network !

So I was to give presentation about our entry for VAST mini challenge 2010,  for this challenge our team from HCIL, Uof Maryland received the award: "Innovative Tool Adaptation", as we used a plagiarism detection tool to detect gene replication and a Network Analysis Visualization system ManyNets for discovering gene mutation path. On Sunday morning, I was to give a 3 minute presentation about the entry. I woke up at 7:30 am , therefore being brain-dead I joined the workshop arranged only for the challenge participants.  After several cups of coffee I started to feel alive. Me, Eric and Dustin walked 1 hour along the street of Salt Lake City to find a place to eat , and being drenched we finally found a Chinese  bistro.   I gained back my confidence after lunch and presented live demo about how our team solved the problem . It was nice to hear about the other teams and their approach on solving the problems.  SFU and GATech were shining with their large teams.

The next day we had this VAST Challenge panel at the afternoon,  time for me to hide my nervousness before this "houseful" audience and speak about our teamwork in more detail. Things went well enough this time. Then came the VAST Paper Fast forward, amazingly all the presented gave nice introduction about their work in 40 seconds !

The best thing about InfoVis is all the papers and presentations contain nice screen shots and figures , it is easier to understand the idea this way, and not feeling stupid about yourself thinking that "why don't I understand what the speaker is talking about ! " .  I  could not attend the morning sessions due to my take home midtem exam deadline, so after submitting my exam online, I headed towards the remaining sessions.  I liked most the sessions about graph visualization and social media. I enjoyed the paper talk about genealogy visualization using compact matrix, their overview and detail panel with nice linking technique made it an easily usable tool, though the time axis seemed a bit vague to me, need to read the paper once again. And isn't it depressing that there is no Windows version for LastHistory that shows your music listening history on ! While attending the talk about the project LastHistory, I attempted to install it on my pc and damn!

Then it was time to visit the SciViz sessions, applying Voronoi diagram as image thumbnail shape for efficient image browsing  and considering Doppler Effect on local ray tracing were two papers I enjoyed , their demos were captivating.  It sound very geeky when I say "I enjoyed a paper" but seriously, these interactive demos with animations ! how can you ignore those !

The poster session was interesting, and not too mention very informative ; I got some nice idea which I would like to explore more, like the Non-photorealistic rendering (NPR ) method for representing uncertainty and 1.5D Network Visualization ( from IMB China ) showing the change of ego network of a node with time as an axis. 

The student volunteer party was a great chance to throw away our researcher mood and just to act like some twenty-something human being who loves to jump and dance [ and where there is an iPhone, there is music ].  This is the first time I attended VisWeek, met some awesome fellow student researchers and I can't explain how eager I am too attend the ones coming in future. Above all, the best part was the complement  I received from my advisors .