Tuesday, February 10, 2009

White Paper or Conference Paper


I would that folks who are "authorized" to blog here would blog rather than just comment.  On the other hand, some comments should be comments.  :-)  Here is the conundrum:  Some want to call what we are presenting at the conference a "Conference Paper" while what we have asked for is a "White Paper."  The very term, Conference Paper, generated a mini-storm about requirements, committees, academic standards, etc, etc, etc.  What we are asking to be submitted is a "White Paper" that may or may not contain references.  It's nice if they do but it's OK if they don't.  The Approval Committee is very sparse but, for now, consists of several "leaders" in this field who are not employed by a major corporation such as ILOG or Fair Isaac.

The LAST thing that we need is to be an academic conference OR to be a business meeting.  The former is far too stilted and dry while the latter is usually void of technical substance.  We have invited the very best of the very best of the very best (the creme de la creme de la creme) to participate and most of them have accepted.  Binding up the conference papers into a single collection that would be free for attendees and speakers and available for a minimal sum to others is not a big deal and we do NOT want to subject either the speakers nor the approval committee to "normal" academic conference mishmash and rigamarole.  On the other hand, we DO want the papers to be technical and address some of the issues outlined in the former blog on the call for White Papers.

Like some of you, I too have submitted (and had published) academic conference papers.  It's a pain to do the research, document almost every line with references, and your sole contribution is only about 10% of the total document.  For THIS conference, I would rather that the references and history part of the paper just be the list of references in the back of the paper and take up only 10% of the up-front text of the whole paper.  What we want to know is what are YOU presenting?  What is this new and innovative idea that YOU have and that you want to share?  What technically challenging idea did YOU have and  for which YOU devised a solution and YOU are presenting that solution?  In the words of an old Burger King commercial, "Where's the BEEF ?!!"  The conference is all about YOU and what YOU HAVE DONE - not about history and references and committees.

Maybe we will start something new in that we will have presentations that are exciting, technical, innovative and revolutionary and we will be sharing this with the wide spectrum of the  community of technical users.  The one continuing question from ORF 2008 (from the attendees) was that they want more presentations on HOW TO SOLVE THORNY PROBLEMS using a rulebase technology.  If you are presenting a new innovation, please tell us enough about it so that we can understand it - not just show results but explain HOW these results were made possible.  Also, remember, this conference in NOT just about rulebased systems and BRMS.  It's also about Prolog, LISP, AI, Constraint Based Programming, Complex Event Processing, Validation and Verification, Forecasting, Architecture, Modeling and lots more!!

Remember, Tutorials are on Monday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Newbies and Technical Business Managers (CIO, CTO, Project Managers, etc) will find that extremely helpful in understanding the rest of the conference.  This means that the conference presentation does NOT have to subscribe to the theory of presenting to the "lowest common denominator" of the attendees but to the architects and implementors of rulebased systems.

Most of all, we are there to have fun!  Vendors have new things to show off.   Architects and implementors have discovered new ways to solve complicated problems.  Scientists and researchers have new innovations to talk about.  And the attendees will be there to soak up every little thing and learn more in 3.5 days than they might learn all year from pouring through manuals and watching web casts.



phil varner said...

Agree. Do we even need to bundle them up into a published document? Why not just make them available over the web?

woolfel said...

I don't know about others, but Having a full list of references is important. The printed material might not include the full list, but the electronic version definitely should. Printing out pages and pages of references definitely impacts cost. One option is to use a smaller font like arial 8 for the references.

Back in college, my english professors made it absolutely clear that proper citation is critical. For me, it tells me the author has taken time to look at prior art and isn't re-inventing or re-discovering something already covered by other researchers/developers.

James Owen said...


Our thought at this time is that we have a lot of folks who will have paid to attend the conference and the collection of White Papers will be part of the bonus of attending. It would not be fair to those who paid to attend to then give away something for which they have paid quite a bit. We will then sell the collection to non-attendees for a nominal fee months later to help defray the expenses from the conference.