I’m back from Florence where I found out that:

  • Microsoft can succesfully use EEG to read your mind. Alright, not quite, but they did present interesting stuff on distinguishing unconscious brain activity in viewing images: you can detect when people process faces or other images using just 2 sensors. Microsoft had a huge amount of papers at this year’s CHI, I’m not sure how to gauge that presence, but the work they presented was interesting.
  • Creative combinations get attention: you can combine knitting with digital memories, just like you can combine eggs with rfid tags
  • Homeless people have more trouble keeping in contact with their family and friends than with finding food – I really liked this session, studies that ‘go out there’ and follow less known user groups are incredibly interesting to hear about.
  • Urban folks have more distant contacts than rural people, who have less friends and are physically closer to these fewer friends. I really liked this study, but I wish they would have included socio-economic stats though.
  • Bill Buxton is a great speaker, his plenary talk was a joy to listen to.
  • Florence icecream is great.
  • Best goodie award goes to Google, but I still can’t solve Rubik’s cubes 😦

My own presentation at the SWUI’08 workshop went well. Even though I’m not a ‘semantic web person’ – I did find the workshop interesting. It did convince me that there is some use after all for Semantic Web techniques, this in contrast to utopic ‘one big Semantic Web’ visions from the past.

Overall CHI’08 was worth it. I met lots of interesting people, had fun and got inspiration for my research.


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