[xquery-talk] XML/XQuery academic conferences ?

Liam R E Quin liam at w3.org
Wed Oct 12 17:08:50 PDT 2011

On Wed, 2011-10-12 at 12:33 -0700, Daniela Florescu wrote:
> David,
> On Oct 12, 2011, at 11:51 AM, David Lee wrote:
> > Question.
> > 1) What are "the other problems" with Balisage ?
> I love Balisage. But:
> - Too narrowly focused I would think. ( Looks like an old family reunion
> -- which is indeed pleasant :-)
> ( As an example, few people with database background
> participate to it. Few people with serious IR background. Few number  
> of newcomers
> every year, and they are not encouraged when they do)

There has been a conscious effort to welcome newcomers this year and
last year.  Agree that it's a fairly small community though.

> I would say, the bare minimum requirements:
> - publications should be copyrighted (which in XML Prague and Balisage
> I am not sure they are)

For Balisage, copyright remains with the authors; Balisage has authors
sign a non-exclusive publication agreement.

> - that has to be some official affiliation with ACM http://www.acm.org/

No XML conference has this as far as I know.

> - that has to be an official and more rigurous  selection process,  
> published
> and followed ad literam.
> - submissions should be more serious (not only "send us a paragraph  
> and we believe
> you because we've been knowing you for decades")

I think that's the case for Balisage - i.e. a serious peer review
process that's clearly followed; I think less so for XML Prague.

The problem with becoming _too_ "tenure track publishing" academic is
that papers become irrelevant.  This was a real problem with the WWW
conferences in the early 2000s.

On the subject of hiring PhD people as programmers - in general, anyone
who says "ah, this problem is so-and-so's algorithm" without looking too
deeply is likely to write code that implements an algorithm rather than
code that solves a problem.  That's OK in some circumstances (e.g. a
general-purpose library) and not in others (product, consulting...)
because code like
    a_prime := b_prime * a[j] + cos(b[j - a_j])
is impossible to maintain when requirements change.

This generalises (since I'm over-generalising anyway!) to whether the
person sees programming in terms of understanding and modelling an
imperfect and changing world with imperfect tools, or in terms of
precise black-and-white solving-a-mathematical-problem.  I've had better
luck with physicists than with mathematicians.

> The major complaint right now for XQuery is: we have enough  
> implementations; yet
>   there are not enough programmers who know it.
> How can we get out of this if we don't teach it ?

I'd very much like to see a W3C "business group" or even "community
group" of people focussed on providing tutorials, training, examples,
libraries - such things are supposed to be formed by interested W3C
Members... ;)

Where markup is taught and/or studied in universities, as far as I know
it's primarily in terms of rhetoric and text studies, and as part of a
tool for representation of critical editions or taxonomies or
Wittgenstein's notebooks, i.e. firmly in the humanities.

XML bridges the gaps between
. the humanities and the study of text and rhetoric
. the mathematics of annotated trees, graphs, sequences,
  regular grammars
. the computer science of optimisation, storage, complexity theory
. functional programming
etc etc, a lot of interdisciplinary stuff that's really cool and
interesting but that builds bridges where researchers are still busy
building walls.

I don't have an answer - I suspect the answer is that in fact there's a
small piece of the puzzle at lots of different venues, rather than a
single XQuery conference.

Maybe start an ACM SIG??


Liam Quin - XML Activity Lead, W3C, http://www.w3.org/People/Quin/
Pictures from old books: http://fromoldbooks.org/

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