Mario Valle Web

The Gordon Research Conference 2007

I’m near Providence RI (USA) for the Gordon Research Conference on Visualization in Science and Education.

Do you know what are those conferences? They are not usual conferences with publications, proceedings and so on. The main idea is to join people from diverse fields but with a common interest to freely discuss and exchange ideas. For this reason it is strictly prohibited to make any reference to work presented at the conference.

To quote from the home page:

The Gordon Research Conferences promote discussions and the free exchange of ideas at the research frontiers of the biological, chemical and physical sciences. Scientists with common professional interests come together for a full week of intense discussion and examination of the most advanced aspects of their field. These Conferences provide a valuable means of disseminating information and ideas in a way that cannot be achieved through the usual channels of communication: publications and presentations at large scientific meetings.

Here I will try to collect ideas about the general conference setup, not the specific notes made. Those are available on my Blog.

First impressions

The Design Workshop

Now I’m in the middle of a pre-conference workshop on Design Principles for Creating Effective Visualizations.

It is made by short lectures and group work. A lot of group work!

The final exercise of the workshop presented four ideas on how to redesign a visualization. Here are some comments on mine. But the best visualization was the animation of a protein docking made for illustration, not exploration. Amazing!

Conference starts

Seems the first day at the college: old friends reunions, laughs, …

Before the two after-dinner sessions, an official from the GRC organization remembered (strongly remembered) the rules: no public relation of conference content.

Interesting rule: the rationale is to remove every possible block that could hinder the free discussion of advanced topics or new research lines. I agree, but this means here I can only post my sensations and the (public) titles of the talks.

Was hard to remain awake. But an interesting experiment was attempted: before questions, for five minutes the people were forced to discuss together on the talk content. Nice method to make connections.

Run, run, GRC conference!

Scientific sessions and the poster area are full of interesting themes: from brain studies of perception to what chemistry students have in their minds. I like this interdisciplinarity. I like to mix ideas not only from the scientific visualization area. Maybe some new idea spark in the mind, maybe not. In any case it is enriching me.

One nice idea is to start the question time with five minutes of (forced? suggested? encouraged?) discussion with your seat neighbors. Yesterday the discussion continued also after the session in front of a beer.