Saturday, February 28, 2009

Getting Stuff Done

I am a strong believer in discussion. Not just as a means to an end, but as important for itself. From that perspective, I think the discussion on double-blind reviewing was extremely productive (and I hope it will continue). I appreciated that comments were well-thought out and sincere, even if I didn't agree with them. But now I wonder, how do we take this discussion to a broader audience? As a first step, I'd be interested in getting more people within the theory community to be talking and thinking about these issues. Perhaps this is really a request to other bloggers to keep the conversation going.

More generally, how can we transfer conversations (online or in person) into action? Again, I wish to point out that often these conversations are important for themselves, still, sometimes once some amount of agreement is reached, the topics discussed merit action on a broader scale. Two examples, off the top of my head, of times when moving discussion to action has worked:

  1. Yesterday, I spent some time standing in a hallway at Maryland talking to a fellow CS grad student. For awhile, I've been thinking in the back of my head about starting a thesis support group. I mentioned this to him and he was enthusiastic. We've organized the first meeting for this coming Friday and sent out announcements about it. Even if only the two of us show up, I consider this a success.
  2. After tossing around the idea of holding a student-only conference event for SoCG (and it not happening), I posted about the possibility for future conferences. I got a positive response and it sounded at the time like it might actually happen for SoCG 2010. (Of course, I haven't been paying any attention to this in awhile, so I don't really know. Suresh?)

Both of these examples had the advantage of requiring little effort and a small number of people to be interested. What if that isn't true? Suppose we decided to try to continue the discussion of double-blind reviewing and possibly to try to start using it. How would that happen? A vote at the business meeting seems like a later step in the process. Discussion seems like the first step. What happens in the middle?


Suresh said...

Re: student-only event at SoCG 2010, I think the idea is: you organize something and tell me what logistical support you need, and I'll see what i can do :)

regarding double blind, I don't think vote at business meeting is how it goes. I don't think we have SoCG by-laws (steering committee folks can correct me here), but usually such decisions are left to the discretion of the incoming PC chair. Sometime in the next few months, the PC Chair for SoCG will be chosen, and it is that person who will probably have a final call on whether to implement double blind review, once we get a 'sense of the community' discussion at the business meeting.

I think you should definitely ask Jeff Erickson if we can have a discussion on this topic at the business meeting.

sorelle said...

Suresh - All I need is a room with some food in it at a posted time. (: Or, if there's no budget for food, a suggestion of an easy to get to restaurant that's student-budget appropriate and a posted time.

Guilherme said...

How does the student-only event works, Sorelle? If you get your PhD before SoCG 2010, you are not allowed in? ;)

Anonymous said...

Here's a suggestion. Model it after this:

Get a couple of profs to assist you with the organization and set up a "PC" made up mostly or completely of students.

Notice that in CP the doctoral programme papers appear in the proceedings too, though under a different heading. They are listed as:

Doe, Jane. "A small note on my PhD research". Proceedings of SoCG'08 Doctoral Programme.

and not as:

Doe, Jane. "On inflating the publication list". Proceedings of SoCG'08.

sorelle said...

Guilherme - it's true, I might not be allowed in. (In fact, I may even be hoping for that to happen...) But I figure I can still introduce the idea ("go talk to each other") before I leave...