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Highest-Viewed Blog Posts and Personal Thoughts on ISMB 2009

ISMB 2009 has come to a close, and with its end I’d like to chat a little about three topics: which ISMB 2009 blog posts readers clicked on the most, which presentations I (personally) found the best, and what I thought about the parts of the conference where no slides were involved (the social aspects).

If you want to check out all of my ISMB 2009 posts, remember you can always search on ‘ismb 2009‘. And don’t forget to check out the other bloggers: Oliver Hofmann, Cass Johnston, and Mikhail Spivakov. If there are more of you out there, let me know and I’ll include you here.

Most Highly-Viewed Blog Posts

Below you’ll find a top-ten list of my blog posts of the talks I attended at ISMB. This top ten is based on number of views according to the stats pages WordPress provides. Of course, this ranking is not very scientific. And additionally, this is just a little bit of fun and doesn’t represent any kind of relative merit of these talks. :) I just wanted a snapshot of what the immediate interest was, both from attendees and non-attendees who followed the conference via FriendFeed or similar, and from there found my blog. Some more thoughts about this list:

  • It could be said to either positively or negatively relate to the quality of the FriendFeed comments. People liking the FF comments may have wanted to learn more, and thus clicked through to my posts. Conversely, people not getting enough information from the FF comments may have clicked through to learn more.
  • It could definitely also be said that the simple viewing of one of my posts doesn’t mean the user received any benefits, or indeed liked my post at all!
  • This may be obvious, but I only blogged those talks I attended. Therefore this list isn’t a representation of the popularity of all presentations, just of the number of views of the blog posts about presentations that I actually attended.
  • If I ever want to do a further ranking, this post will probably influence the numbers :)
  • It’s just a ranking of the most-viewed pages over the past 7 days, which pretty much covers the SIGs and the main conference. These numbers can and will change over the coming days and weeks. In fact, the positions shifted slightly while I was writing this, but I kept to the original list from this morning.

I hope nobody takes this this little bit of fun too seriously, and enjoy!

The top posts, listed with the most-visited one first (as of the morning of July 3, 2009):

  1. TT:23 Utopia Documents: The Digital Meta-Library, Steve Pettifer
  2. Keynote: New Challenges and Opportunities in Nework Biology, Trey Ideker
  3. Research reproducibility through GenePattern, Jill Mesirov, from the DAM SIG
  4. Keynote: Information and Biology, Pierre-Henri Gouyon
  5. TT40: BioCatalogue: A Curated Web Service Registry for the Life Science Community, Franck Tanoh
  6. Keynote: Computational Neuroscience: Models of the Visual System, Tomaso A. Poggio
  7. Special Session 4: Adam Arkin on Synthetic Biology, part of the Special Session on Advances and Challenges in Computational Biology, hosted by PLoS Computational Biology
  8. Annotation of SBML Models Through Rule-Based Semantic Integration, Allyson Lister, from the Bio-Ontologies SIG
  9. HL53: Promoting coherent minimum reporting guidelines for biological and biomedical investigations: the MIBBI project, Chris Taylor
  10. Workflow development and reuse in Taverna, Carole Goble, from the DAM SIG

It’s nice to see a standards talks in the top ten (the MIBBI talk, at number 9). And yes, that is my presentation at number 8, but I promise it was really there in the list, and that it wasn’t me: WordPress doesn’t count my own vists to my blog!

And now onto the talks I liked the most…

This section has two parts: talks that I liked the most,  and my favorite talk. Please note that these are in addition to the top ten I already mentioned above: those will not be getting a double mention here. Also, I’m not mentioning any of the papers I was involved in here, deliberately!

Firstly, presentations I heard that I enjoyed, in no particular order:

And, my absolute favorite? I’ll have to choose a keynote for that, Pierre-Henri Gouyon’s talk on Information and Biology. He was the most engaging of all of the speakers, and had the best style of speech. His talk was funny, intelligent and well constructed. A great way to start the conference.

The ISMB 2009 social scene (no, you’ll find no dirt here!)

The FriendFeed group was mainly sober, serious, and related directly to the presentations. Over 137 subscribed, though fewer people contributed. That’s no bad thing, though – it’s more important to encourage readers to discover the FF group and make use of it than it is to get loads of people writing in the group. Getting readers for the group is the hard part: once people are aware it exists, it’s a lot easier for them to start contributing to the dialog once they’re comfortable. It was on FF that I learnt that people had items stolen from the Light Factory party, which was one of the very few downsides to this conference.

However, it wasn’t all serious. Ruchira Datta started an open thread that was lively from the beginning. There was a Twitterer who was worried about the quality of music in the rooms prior to the talk (here’s just one example of his thoughts on the matter), more than one mention of where power sockets could be found (in the open thread and here), Lars (who wasn’t at the conference but followed in on FF) provided a number of wordles concerning both content and authorship of FF comments. Neil (one of the main bloggers from last year), still eagerly awaits photos (I promise I’ll put some up this weekend, and am myself looking forward to Ruchira’s pics of us FFers at the Thai place!)

It wasn’t all online: many attendees managed to actually meet and talk in person :) . I felt the Vasa Museum was a fabulous place to have the dinner on the Wednesday, and having the initial drinks receptions at the City Hall impressed both me and everyone I spoke with. With alcoholic drinks roughly twice the price of their UK counterparts, I didn’t do much drinking, but then also didn’t miss it. I was kindly invited to the press conference (an experience which I may write up separately later), which was a fantastic first for me. I met people that I had only interacted online with before.

While I have been to other ISMBs before, I think in terms of my work and research, this was the best one. (The Brisbane ISMB was my favorite for non-work reasons, as there I got to cuddle a koala and take a 2-week break in Oz afterwards!)

Finally, I’d like to thank the organisers (especially Reinhard Schneider and the people who embedded all the FF sections into the ISMB pages – well done!), the people who toughed it out through my talk on the Sunday, the other FFers attending both remotely and physically, and the bosses (Tom Kirkwood and Neil Wipat from CISBAN here at Newcastle Uni) who let me attend.

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  1. July 8, 2009 at 15:48

    Conference notes are now tagged: http://www.cassj.co.uk/blog/?tag=ismb2009 Sorry – still getting the hang of this blogging lark.

    Cass x

    • July 8, 2009 at 16:05

      No worries – I’ve updated the post accordingly – thanks for letting me know!

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