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SIGBOVIK 2011: What words ought to exist? (01 Apr 2011 at 23:06)
Today was SIGBOVIK 2011, the fifth one. This is my favorite CMU CS tradition; a fake conference thrown with real aplomb (carefully bound and printed proceedings, entertaining talks, product demonstrations, awards, promotion, budget and steering committees, paper management systems and reviews, etc.). People use it as both a venue for childish drivel and for deeply satirical but essentially real work that in my opinion is too good for actual conferences. I love it because of how it simultaneously scorches (for its pointless navel-gazing) and celebrates (for its pointless navel-gazing) academia.

I always participate. This year I was emcee and I did not have enough time to execute all of my ideas (do I ever?), but I did write two papers. The first was just the slapdash results of the thing I posted earlier, Who is the biggest douche in Skymall?. It's more fun to continue to play the on-line game than read the results, though I did add a douche-detecting image recognition "algorithm" to that paper, at least.

What I spent the most time on was my paper What words ought to exist?.

What words ought to exist?


I tried something different this year. I feel like the conference is filled with loads of satire and irony (which is great), but that the best way to celebrate what I feel is the SIGBOVIK spirit is to be off-puttingly impenetrable about where the work is even coming from. Like "Is this real or a joke? Why did you even do this? I don't understand" is the ideal reaction. So, controlling for SIGBOVIK tenor, this time my paper is a completely earnest and thorough attempt to answer an interesting philosophical question (titular). It starts with a maximalist approach, my variant of Scrabble called Scrallbe (where they can all be words), which is pictured above. It's like God mode for Scrabble. I dismiss this as too coarse and then look at a bunch of different methods for figuring out what words should exist, and justifying that mathematically. I tried to write it for the layperson, but I think my notion of layperson may be distorted. Read the paper to decide for yourself.

I won another award this year (keeping my perfect batting record!), this time for "Most frighteningly like real research," which I think is apt.

SIGBOVIK 2011
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Anonymous (67.160.162.9) – 04.02.11 03:01:58
"What words ought to exist?" made me laugh so hard I cried.

http://sigbovik.org/2011/ has a link to the full proceedings, of course.
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jonas (78.92.9.180) – 04.04.11 04:49:58
My favourite bit from the proceedings is "Hygienic image macros".
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Anonymous (69.245.56.248) – 04.18.11 21:28:43
I am definitely planning to use the assessment "Ugh, poop city!" the next time I must appraise some negative results in a paper. Too bad I don't review many manuscripts or I'd use it there, too.
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