TITLE: Learning about My Communications Job ... AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: December 11, 2006 7:29 PM DESC: ----- BODY: ... on a last December morning in Montreal, where I am on the job. I awoke for an early morning run to snow, the wet fluffy snow of temperatures near 0° C. In the downtown area, all that remained were wet streets, but as I jogged toward Mont Royal the snow was still falling and the 6-8% grade up Rue Peel was covered in an inch or so. I love to run in falling snow, and my first snow run of the year is often special. I enjoyed this one as much as usual. Just past half way on my out-and-back route, I missed a turn that seemed obvious yesterday. Perhaps it was the snow-covered street signs, or my snow-covered glasses. The result was 17 minutes or so of backtracking and retracing my steps, and a planned 8-miler turned into a 10-miler that lasted into Monday morning rush hour traffic. The 6-8% grade down a snowy Rue Peel was, oh, let's say more challenging than the run up. I survived with no spills but a few minutes of my heart pounding a bit more than usual. I hope that the OOPSLA 2007 wiki, which we hope to have up and running any day, will be a place for OOPSLA-bound runners to share advice on routes and warnings of things to watch for. We usually launch the conference wiki at or just a few weeks before the conference, but I think having it running all year long will offer a chance for potential conference attendees and other altruistic souls to build community around issues related both to the conference and to our personal pursuits in Montreal. This is a part our vision for the communications component of our conference organization. As I checked out later in the morning, I received a more expensive surprise. It turns out that the complimentary shuttle from the Hyatt to the Montreal central bus station, which I thought ran on a regular and frequent schedule, requires a one-hour advance registration. There was no information about this in the packet I received from our logistics company, nor at the L'Aerobus station, nor in the hotel itself. This inconvenience followed the general sense of disorientation and complexity I felt on the night I arrived and strengthened my desire to incorporate a useful Local Travel on the conference web site. Anything we can do to ensure that all of the ancillary things associated with conference travel go well, the more likely we can create an awesome OOPSLA 2007 experience for attendees. Yet more conference communications! Yet another element to my position on the conference committee. Before I began to dig into this position during OOPSLA 2006, I assumed that most of my activities would focus on the conference content: calls for submissions, the advance program, the program on the web site, the final program, and the much-missed Program-at-a-Glance that makes the days of the conference easy to follow and plan. But I have come to understand that communications is much more than simply organizing the program for presentation in paper and bits. In fact, I'd say that that task is merely one example of a larger purpose. It is really about eliminating the friction that naturally comes at all stages of participating in OOPSLA. It is about serving the informational needs of submitters and attendees. I have come to admire the underlying sense of duty that runs throughout our conference committee. General chair Dick Gabriel has his pulse on both ends of the spectrum of tasks that faces the committee: those little details that seem to matter only when something goes wrong, such as web-site navigation and hotel reservations, and the big picture of moving the conference forward for which he is so well-known among the OOPSLA committee, such as Onward! and the Essays track. He certainly recognizes the financial implications of falling down on the little services, which affects both the current year's attendance and the possibly future years' attendance, but I don't think that this is what motivates him. In any case, just now I am short on the kind of big ideas that can move the conference in a new direction, I am hoping that my attention to the details of our communicating well to OOPSLA participants can help the rest of the committee put on a winning conference. And I am not saying all these nice things just because Dick graciously picked up part of a dinner tab that the conference budget could not last night at Montreal's Globe restaurant, attended by the committee members who had stayed an extra night in order to do more committee business and scout the area. The Globe offered a fine menu extravagant in seafood and a mix of French and North American cuisine, at prices that left this small-town Midwestern boy in a state of awe. The waitstaff was remarkably attractive and, um, shall we say, enticingly well-dressed. While I probably won't dine at this establishment on my future trips to Montreal, I can cherish the memory of this visit's delights. Finally, during dinner conversation, I learned of the next big thing that will rock the software world, which will explode out of OOPSLA 2007 as so many revolutionary ideas have sprung from past OOPSLAs: ribosome-oriented computing. Keep your eyes glued to Google; this has the potential to make an international superstar out of postmodern software prophet Robert Biddle. -----