Thursday, May 26, 2011

ICSE second main conference day: General observations

I have been at the International Conference on Software Engineering in Hawaii since last Friday. Today is the second-last day of the event, and the second day of the 'main' conference. You can look back at my recent posts to see some sessions I have blogged about.

Here are some general thoughts. Some of these thoughts might help other conference organizers.
  • Attendance has been excellent (over 1000), although as usual mostly from academics. It is too bad that in our field the main conference doesn't also have a large contingent of software practitioners, with practical 'how to do it' sessions for them. Surely we could grow the event to encompass both types of software engineers.
  • The paper acceptance rate was on the order of 15%. This is far too low for the central conference in the field. It strongly suggests that they should explicitly plan to increase the capacity of the conference in terms of paper presentations, so they can accept more. Combined with my last comment, I would have thought that ICSE might be able to double or triple in size, reflecting the importance of software engineering in today's world. Other scientific fields have many thousands of people at their conferences.
  • The WiFi has been the best of any ICSE. Historically, all the high-tech software engineers have swamped the WiFi networks of the ICSE venue. Any organizer of a CS conference should put emphasis on good WiFi. Yes, it means some people check their email rather than paying attention, but it also allows for social media, blogging, checking references speakers reference, etc. etc.
  • The organizers seem to think that nobody wants coffee in the afternoon. No idea why.Also, when catering a conference breakfast, please provide lower glycemic-index options, such as bagels with cream cheese. Sweet stuff is not so healthy.
  • Keynote speakers need to be dynamic, not just interesting. Today's keynote certainly was both.
  • At ICSE, it is great to have keynotes on peripheral areas, like this year's two keynotes so far. I particularly liked today's talk, which I blogged about in detail. However, keynotes from companies that do software engineering, or radical new core SE ideas, would be very valued. In fact the non-keynote session from the sponsors, which I also blogged about, was better attended than the keynotes.

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