I attended the pre-conference "Networking Gathering" last night, mostly because there was free food provided, and was glad to see that most people were just like me: technology geeks. So when I awoke this morning I was looking forward to an interesting opening day at CHI2006.
Scott Cook (co-founder of Intuit) gave the opening welcome speech. He focused on how his company has found innovations through allowing employees to innovate without management breathing down their necks. Like all good CEOs he was able to say the obvious, but in an entertaining manner. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy who ran a genuinely nice company.
Around 11:30am Tom (my adviser) and I met to go over my presentation. I was still a bit nervous, but my experiences at the conference so far were positive and I wasn't intimidated. After we finished I snuck into the "Navigation" session, catching the only remotely interesting paper titled OrthoZoom Scroller: 1D Multi-Scale Navigation. Not terribly amazing, but probably useful for well-index material (e.g. text with chapters).
My session, called "alt.chi", started around 4:30 and I was told that it often drew a large crowd because papers in this type of session were usually entertaining, diverse, and not always mainstream CHI material. Judging from what the room looked like ten minutes before the start of my session I was a little disappointed with the turnout. Luckily the room filled up quickly, and by the time it was my turn to take the mic the room was standing room only (sorry, I would have taken a picture of the audience but I don't have large cojones).
The presentation itself (PDF, or PPT if you want my notes) went smooth enough; my voice cracked twice during the first three slides, and I almost made a comment about going through puberty again before thinking it inappropriate. I came back strong though and by the end I felt very confident that I had done a "good" job. The audience seemed to enjoy the presentation as well, and it felt very rewarding afterward as people came up and complimented my work. Cool. If you're curious you can see a picture of all of the presenters from my session.
I returned to the conference hall during the evening for a reception. They had entertainment to go along with the posters and other booths being presented. After eating my fill of the free finger food and imbibing my two free drinks I slumped off to our hotel room for a good night sleep. I still had 3 days to go!
[note: This post has been backdated to correspond with the date of the events described]