Saturday, June 18, 2011

2011-06-18: Report on the 2011 Digging into Data Challenge Conference

On June 9-10 I attended the 2011 Digging into Data Challenge Conference in Washington DC, which was a status report of the eight projects selected during the initial 2009 Digging into Data Challenge.

Unfortunately, due to traffic challenges to and from the conference, I was able to catch only one half of the sessions. Jennifer Howard of the Chronicle of Higher Education gives a good summary of the sessions (day 1 and day 2).

The highlights of the sessions I attended included the "Data Mining with Criminal Intent" project (whose poster is shown above), which includes the use of the Voyeur Tools for text collection summarization on the "Old Bailey", a corpus of criminal court proceedings in London 1674-1913. Also interesting was the "Mapping the Republic of Letters" project, which is basically social network analysis based on the letter exchanges of prominent scientists and intellectuals during the 18th century. Also of note was Tony Hey's keynote. Although his video/slides are not yet available from the conference website, you can get an idea of his presentation by looking at his OSCON 2009 presentation (slides, video), although Digging Into Data presentation was more recent and expanded. Interesting projects that I learned of included: Digital Narratives, NodeXL, and Zentity.

The conference had a new-to-me format about which I'm not entirely sure how I feel. The project PIs would present the status and highlights of their projects for 45 minutes, and then a respondent not involved with the project would present a rebuttal / evaluation / response / contextualization. The respondents that I saw were gracious and complimentary, but I heard during the breaks that was not necessarily the case for at least one of the respondents that I missed.

There is a 2011 Digging Into Data Challenge, although with less than a week between the conference and the due date of June 16 it is not clear to me how much the experiences of the previous participants could be incorporated into the 2011 submissions.

--Michael

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