TITLE: StrangeLoop 9: This and That AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: October 01, 2012 7:40 AM DESC: ----- BODY:
the Peabody Opera House
Every conference leaves me with unattached ideas floating around after I write up all my entries. StrangeLoop was no different. Were I master of Twitter, one who live-posted throughout the conference, many of this might have been masterful tweets. Instead, they are bullets in a truly miscellaneous blog entry. ~~~~ The conference was at the Peabody Opera House (right), an 80-year-old landmark in downtown St. Louis. It shares a large city block with the ScottTrade Center, home of the NHL Blues, and a large parking garage ideally positioned for a conference goer staying elsewhere. The main hall was perfect for plenary sessions, and four side rooms fit the parallel talks nicely. ~~~~ When I arrived at 8:30 AM on Monday, the morning refreshment table contained, in addition to the perfunctory coffee, Diet Mountain Dew in handy 12-ounce bottles. Soda was available all day. This made me happy. Sadly, the kitchen ran out of Diet Dew before Tuesday morning. Such is life. I still applaud the conference for meeting the preferences of its non-coffee drinkers. ~~~~ During the Akka talk, I saw some code on a slide that made me mutter Ack! under my breath. That made me chuckle. ~~~~ "Man, there are a lot of Macs and iPads in this room."
-- me, at every conference session ~~~~
the St. Louis Arch, down the street from the Opera House
On Monday, I saw @fogus across the room in his Manfred von Thun jersey. I bow to you, sir. Joy is one of my favorites. After seeing @fogus's jersey tweet, I actually ordered one for myself. Unfortunately, it didn't arrive in time for the conference. A nice coincidence: Robert Floyd spent most of his career at Stanford, whose mascot is... the Cardinal. (The color, not the bird.) ~~~~ During Matthew Flatt's talk, I couldn't help but think Alan Kay would be proud. This is programming taken to the extreme. Kay always said that Smalltalk didn't need an operating system; just hook those primitives directly to the underlying metal. Racket might be able to serve as its own OS, too. ~~~~ I skipped a few talks. During lunch each day, I went outside to walk. That's good for my knee as well as my head. Then I skipped one talk that I wanted to see at the end of each day, so that I could hit the exercise bike and pool. The web will surely provide me reports of both ( The Database as a Value and The State of JavaScript ). Sometimes, fresh air and exercise are worth the sacrifice. ~~~~
my StrangeLoop 2012 conference badge
I turned my laptop off for the last two talks of the conference that I attended. I don't think that the result was being able to think more or better, but I definitely did thought differently. Global connections seemed to surface more quickly, whereas typing notes seemed to keep me focused on local connections. ~~~~ Wednesday morning, as I hit the road for home, I ran into rush hour traffic driving toward downtown St. Louis. It took us 41 minutes to travel 12 miles. Love St. Louis and this conference as much as I do, I was glad to be heading home to a less crowded place. ~~~~ Even though I took walks at lunch, I was able to sneak into the lunch talks late. Tuesday's talk on Plato (OOP) and Aristotle (FP) brought a wistful smile. I spent a couple of years in grad school drawing inspiration for our lab's approach to knowledge-based systems from the pragmatists, in contrast to the traditional logical views of much of the AI world. That talk contained two of my favorite sentences from the conference:
Computer scientists are applied metaphysicists.
We have the most exciting job in the history of philosophy.
Indeed. We can encode, implement, and experiment with every model of the world we create. It is good to be the king. This seems like a nice way to close my StrangeLoop posts for now. Now, back to work. -----