[Conferences-discuss] Printed proceedings?

Greg Ward gward@python.net
Wed, 13 Feb 2002 12:05:23 -0500

For the three IPCs that I have attended (7, 8, and 10), there has always
been a bound and printed book of proceedings.  Generally speaking, I
like this for a variety of reasons:

  * it lets you read papers for talks that you miss, or long
    after the conference is over

  * it's a lot easier to read than a CD-ROM -- no printer required,
    portable, etc.

  * authors can point at a physical artifact and say, "Look! I'm
    a real Python programmer, I've been *published*"

  * forces authors/presenters to think hard about their topic twice:
    once while writing the paper, and once while preparing their
    talk.  On good talks and papers, this shows (I think).

There are some inherent problems with having a printed proceedings book:

  * cost of printing and binding

  * the overhead of having a program committee review and accept/reject
    papers (but this also serves as an important quality control
    filter -- usually the dross doesn't get into the conference)

There are also some implementation problems with the proceedings books I
have seen so far; I think the biggest one is simply this: no copy
editor!  As near as I can tell, no one is responsible for making sure
that the published papers are grammatically and orthographically
correct, or that the formatting isn't all screwed up.  (Take a look at
Martin von Loewis' paper in the IPC10 proceedings to see a classic
"formatting all screwed up" paper.  It's not fatal, but it sure is
annoying.)  I've been on the program committee several times, and the
first couple of times I went after grammatical/spelling/formatting
problems with a vengeance.  This year, I realized that was pointless
when the paper might end up being rejected, so AFAIK no one ever fixed
up the grammar/formatting of the published papers.  (The only one I've
read so far is Martin's, which had some minor German-isms in the grammar
that -- along with the bad formatting -- would have been fixed by a
proper copy-edit.)

So: how does everyone feel about having published papers coming out the
conference?  In short, is it worth the time, effort, and expense?

Greg Ward - geek                                        gward@python.net
What happens if you touch these two wires tog--