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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FOCS Videos

As I tweeted yesterday, the videos of talks from the 2009 FOCS conference are now online. Thanks to FOCS PC chair Daniel Spielman and Georgia Tech's ARC Center for making it happen.

Let me be a bit Billish (or is it Gasarchian) and make my comments as questions. 
  1. Which talks are most worth watching?
  2. How many of these videos do you plan on watching?
  3. Do you get value over these talks over reading the papers? The papers aren't on the IEEE DLs yet but Shiva has collected some links.
  4. If STOC/FOCS talks were generally available on-line shortly after the conference, would this affect your attendance?
  5. Are the videos useful even if you did attend FOCS?
  6. Would you prefer videos on a established site like having a YouTube channel so the talks will always be available and you can use YouTube features like embedding?
  7. Should STOC/FOCS and other conferences continue to make videos of their talks and post them freely on-line? How much would you be willing to pay in increased registration fees to make it happen? This would be a subsidy from those attending the conference to those who don't.

16 comments:

  1. I'd vote for videos, and I'd be willing to subsidize it from registration. there are many services now (videolectures.net is one such) that take care of the entire process of placing talks online), and they have a huge impact in terms of getting the word out. I've had students tell me that they became interesting in topics X,Y,Z after watching a video lecture on it.

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  2. do you know whether it is possible to download a video?

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  3. Can someone explain to me why the session chairs signed away the rights for the videos to be recorded, rather than the individual speakers? It seems improper to me. Why would the session chair have this legal right?

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  4. This is really cool!! I attended FOCS, but because of the parallel sessions couldn't see every talk I wanted to. I have clicked on a couple of them, and they seem to be good recordings. Downloadable podcasts would be slightly better, but I can't complain.

    I don't know what to say about registration fees. I get reimbursed, so the fee is somewhat theoretical, but I understand that it causes problems for others. The talks are a very valuable resource.

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  5. How about
    8. How much more nervous would you be giving a talk if you knew it was recorded?

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  6. Anonymous #5: None. None more nervous. I've been recorded when giving talks before and it didn't feel any different than the talks where I wasn't recorded.

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  7. I plan on watching all the videos. Uploading to Youtube would be fantastic. Stanford has started uploading entire classes to Youtube, and I've found that very helpful. For example, I prepped for the Natural Algorithms Workshop by watching a series of Stanford lectures on Linear Dynamical Systems, because I had no prior control theory background.

    The availability of these videos is a wonderful resource for people like me, who have little in the way of travel grants. I won't speak to conference registration fees, but I'd be happy to pay a bit more in annual SIGACT membership if that money went toward videotaping all SIGACT-sponsored conferences.

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  8. 1.Which talks are most worth watching?

    I watched Ryan Williams talk (last one) and quite liked it.

    2.How many of these videos do you plan on watching?

    I like it as an archive resource, to have it available so I can read the paper and also watch the corresponding talk if the topics seems intriguing.

    3.Do you get value over these talks over reading the papers?

    That is hard to say, but it definitely does not hurt. Sometimes you get something from one that is not quite as clear in the other.

    4.If STOC/FOCS talks were generally available on-line shortly after the conference, would this affect your attendance?

    I don't have a lot of travel money so it is a purely theoretical question. I probably wouldn't attend unless I had a paper or it was in the same city where I live so these videos wouldn't change that.

    5.Are the videos useful even if you did attend FOCS?
    I think they would be MORE useful as you would know which talks you liked and can go back and watch them again.

    6.Would you prefer videos on a established site like having a YouTube channel so the talks will always be available and you can use YouTube features like embedding?

    Archivability and continuous accessibility are very good factors in favor of youtube. In principle I think it would be a good idea to have a youtube channel in addition to a dedicated web site.

    7.Should STOC/FOCS and other conferences continue to make videos of their talks and post them freely on-line?

    YES

    How much would you be willing to pay in increased registration fees to make it happen?

    I can't speak to the economics of this, but if it resulted in 10$ dollars extra per attendee that doesn't seem to exorbitant. Surely it can't cost that much to have a couple of video cameras and to process and upload the video.

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  9. I disagree with the majority here. I am slightly less enthusiastic about recorded talks. It would not change my attendance at conferences and I don't think I would find it all that useful. I see more talks in a year than I can cope with anyway.

    Apart from that, I think it is generally not a good idea to permanently archive talks. What about a young student how gives his or her first talk? Would you want your first talk to be the top result on google for your name?

    Scientist have an obligation towards the public and should do what they can to disseminate their work effectively. However, a permanent archive of talks is going to far.

    Obviously, some people may not be able to afford to attend a conference. So what about helping them by putting the talks online for a couple of month after the conference but to remove them afterwards? Of course nobody prevents authors from uploading their talks to youtube themselves if the wish to make them permanently available.

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  10. Steve, the session chair has no legal right to it. I was asked whether a talk I was about to give could be recorded and they put a release form in front of me 10 minutes before the talk. I refused to sign it due to its wording and they did not record my talk.

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  11. "Apart from that, I think it is generally not a good idea to permanently archive talks. What about a young student how gives his or her first talk? Would you want your first talk to be the top result on google for your name?"

    Is this the only problem you have with posting talks online permanently? This concern is easily addressed and it is a mistake to take down talks for it. For example, the researcher can refuse permission to have the talk recorded. Or he or she can practice the talk before the conference, making the conference version the second talk ever.

    If you have ongoing worries with seeing your talks publicly available, then I think you need to improve your talks. Additionally, recording talks is becoming more prevalent. This year I have had four talks recorded, while it used to be more uncommon. I am not sure that they show up on Google, but if they did I think the whole point of Google is that it doesn't put the worst result at the top.

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  12. "This concern is easily addressed and it is a mistake to take down talks for it. For example, the researcher can refuse permission to have the talk recorded."

    An opt-out solution is ok. In some sense I was trying to propose something stronger. Make it mandatory just like the paper publishing part, but make the "permanent youtube" thing optional.

    And for what it's worth, I am told that not everybody at FOCS was asked for permission.

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  13. An anonymous use saying that people shouldn't give a talk if they aren't ready for it to be online and public forever makes me laugh and then cry. Log in with your Google account and share your identity with the world forever if you feel that way.

    I will post as an anonymous user because I do NOT feel that way.

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  14. If you aren't ready to give a talk, then don't give a talk. If you are afraid of your research results being permanently available to the public, then you also shouldn't write papers.

    "And for what it's worth, I am told that not everybody at FOCS was asked for permission."

    Sure, but the camera gave it away. I don't know if there are any legal issues, but we are all adults.

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  15. I think these are quite valuable. Would be better if sound was of high quality, and much better if it had several screens (for example a separate shot of the projected slides).

    I do not think attendance would be strongly affected. The big thing at conferences is interaction, not the talks. Also, at a conference one is reasonably isolated from day to day interruptions, or at least, it is acceptable to ignore them.

    Finally, as for the permission to record, AT THE MOMENT permission has to be asked. It could (and perhaps should) be part of the conference. An author has the right to refuse to have a conference registration recorded. On the other hand, the community has the right to impose having a recorded version a condition to allow an author to talk at the conference (and I think of myself as a defender of privacy and individual rights.)

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