10 Awesome things about ISMIR 2009

ISMIR 2009 is over – but it will not be soon forgotten.  It was a wonderful event, with seemingly flawless execution.  Some of my favorite things about the conference this year:

  1. The proceedings – distributed on a USB stick hidden in a pen that has a laser! And the battery for the laser recharges when you plug the USB stick into your computer.  How awesome is that!?  (The printed version is very nice too, but it doesn’t have a laser).
  2. The hotel – very luxurious while at the same time, very affordable.  I had a wonderful view of Kobe, two very comfortable beds and a toilet with more controls than the dashboard on my first car.
  3. The presentation room – very comfortable with tables for those sitting towards the front, great audio and video and plenty of power and wireless for all.
  4. The banquet – held in the most beautiful room in the world with very exciting Taiko drumming as entertainment.
  5. The details – it seems like the organizing team paid attention to every little detail and request – they had taped numbers on the floor so that the 30 folks giving their 30 second pitches during poster madness would know just where to stand, to the signs on the coffeepots telling you that the coffee was being made, to the signs on the train to the conference center welcoming us to ISMIR 2009.  It seems like no detail was left to chance.
  6. The food – our stomachs were kept quite happy – with sweet breads and pastries every morning,  bento boxes for lunch, and coffee, juices, waters, and the  mysterious beverage ‘black’ that I didn’t dare to try. My absolute favorite meal was the box lunch during the tutorial day – it was a box with a string – when you are ready to eat you give the string a sharp tug – wait a few minutes for the magic to do its job and then you open the box and eat a piping hot bowl of noodles and vegetables.  Almost as cool as the laser-augmented proceedings.
  7. The city – Kobe is a really interesting city – I spent a few days walking around and was fascinated by it all. I really felt like I was walking around in the future.  It was extremely clean, the people will very polite, friendly and always willing to help.  Going into some parts of town was sensory overload, the colors, sounds, smells, the sights were overwhelming – it was really fun.
  8. the Keynote – music making robots – what more is there to say.
  9. The Program – the quality of papers was very high – there was some outstanding posters and oral presentations.  Much thanks to George and Keiji for organizing the reviews to create a great program. (More on my favorite posters and papers in an upcoming post)
  10. f(mir) – The student-organized workshop looked at what MIR research would look like in 10, 20 or even 50 years (basically after I’m dead and gone). The presentations in this workshop were quite provactive – well done students!

I write this post as I sit in the airport in Osaka waiting for my flight home.  I’m tired, but very energized to explore the many new ideas that I encountered at the conference. It was a great week.  I want to extend my personal thanks to Professor Fujinaga and Professor Goto and the rest of the conference committee for putting together a wonderful week.

Masataka and Ichiro at the conference table


  1. #1 by Brian McFee on November 1, 2009 - 4:00 am

    UCC Black is iced coffee, and quite tasty. Sadly, they don’t have a charismatic spokesman like Tommy Lee Jones for Boss Coffee.

  2. #2 by Nick on November 1, 2009 - 10:25 pm

    Thanks for all of this coverage! It was a great read. Do you know of a list of other people who blogged the conference?

  3. #3 by Amélie Anglade on November 2, 2009 - 12:47 pm

    I’m happy that you liked f(MIR) Paul! We really enjoyed organising this workshop. To get the f(MIR) papers visit http://www.columbia.edu/~tb2332/fmir/program.htm

  4. #4 by Luke Barrington on November 3, 2009 - 4:37 pm

    You forgot item 0 on the best things about ISMIR: The People!
    Having been to the past 4 ISMIRs, I really enjoyed catching up with lots of old friends from all over the world (Paul not least among them). And every year, I meet lots of brilliant new folks who I can see will be making ISMIR a success for another 10 years.

    • #5 by Paul on November 3, 2009 - 4:49 pm

      Indeed, perhaps my favorite moment of the whole week was listening to Brian McFee rip into Sex Machine with a spot on James Brown impersonation.

  5. #6 by Elias on November 10, 2009 - 2:42 pm

    Paul, thanks for blogging about ISMIR. I really appreciated reading your posts! Now I can vaguely imagine how awesome it must have been this year :-)

  6. #7 by Paul on November 10, 2009 - 3:04 pm

    elias – wasn’t the same without you. Hopefully we’ll see you in Utrech

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