My worst ISMIR moment

I’ve been invited to be a session chair for the Oral Session on Tags that runs this morning. This brings back memories of my worst ISMIR moment which I wrote about in my old Duke Listens blog:

It was in my role as session chair that I had my worst ISMIR moment.  I was doing fine making sure that the speakers ended on time (even when we had to swap speakers around when one chap couldn’t get his slides to appear on the projector).  However there was one speaker who gave a talk about a topic that I just didn’t understand. I didn’t grasp the goal of the research,  the methods, the conclusions or the applicability of the research.  All the way through the talk I was wracking my brains trying to eek out an appropriate, salient question about the research. A question that wouldn’t mark me as the idiot that I clearly was. By the end of the talk I was regretting my decision to accept the position as session chair.  I could only pray that someone else would ask the required question and save me from humiliating myself and insulting the speaker.  The speaker concluded the talk,  I stood up and thanked the speaker, offered a silent prayer to the God of Curiosity and then asked the assembled for questions. Silence.  Long Silence. Really long silence. My worst nightmare. I was going to ask a question, but by this point I couldn’t even remember what the talk was about. It was going to be a bad question, something like “Why do you find this topic interesting?” or “Isn’t Victoria nice?”.  Just microseconds before I uttered my feeble query, a hand went up,  I was saved. Someone asked a question.  I don’t remember the question, I just remember the relief. My job as session chair was complete, every speaker had their question.

This year, I think I’ll be a bit more comfortable as a session chair.  I know the topic of the session pretty well, and I know most of the speakers too, but still, please don’t be offended if I ask you “How do you like Kobe?”

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