Event of the week: Science conference through a layman’s eyes and observations on the people in science

While I’m listening  to this 8tracks radio dreaminghermione  , since I have serious issues to concentrate on concrete tasks, I’m remembering how important it is to rendition thoughts properly with a clear order and I’m failing miserably to do so, but I’m hoping this music will help. My English skills are also not making this easier. So bare with me.

Two conferences have been held last week in Novi Sad, in Hotel Park, SPECOM (Speech and Computer) and DOGS (Digital Speech and Image Processing- Digitalna Obrada Glasa i Slike), respectively.

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I know nothing about computer sciences and am not a programmer or researcher of speech and language in any way, but some of my friends and s.o.  are. That is the answer to the question how did I end up there.

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Speaking of which, the only reason I knew it was held is because the firm in which my s.o. works is this years host, alongside the Faculty of Technical Sciences, University of Novi Sad. The only place there was any kind of promotional material placed is the Faculty building. Regional firms who work in the similar paradigm were notified by a memo. For some reason I was not satisfy with it, and I felt like more could have been done. I know that these kind of specific theme science conferences are not the IT or HOT SPOT… But, seeing the guests from Russia, Macedonia, Hungary and Switzerland, who were lecturers too, not just students, I realized, that, these conferences are not hot-spots maybe only in countries like Serbia. They assured me that, when SPECOM was held in Moscow it was largely visited, and here we have 100 people altogether (note: SPECOM is originally from the Moscow University but every other year is held in other hosting country). So, not enough interest here? Maybe dare to say -countries like ours have much bigger issues than to pay attention to what these people are working on. Is it like that really? Well, if your criteria is the number of visitors, than, I’m sure it is a failure (the conferences). If your criteria is the quality of interactions among these young developers, not so much. If the criteria is how much money the state is giving to research in this realm, including the fact how deep in debt it stands, I’ll say, not at all. Still, I feel like more people who are not in the specific research aria can come, listen, learn. Me myself, being layman, could have follow more than enough, and there were some interesting presentations.

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     What I liked about this convention, and I have been sitting in others too, is the organization. The Hotel is one of the best in Novi Sad, and by that I mean, of course that the food is great. Joking aside, professor Delić make sure that the guests saw Petrovaradin fortress, vine clubs, monasteries and museums. Two years ago, when DOGS was held in a little place near Novi Sad called Kovačica. We were in a resort, and food was also good, but I have to mention this because if you never been there, you should visit. It is small but has that old multicultural vibe I adore ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kova%C4%8Dica ).

This year, we had a great dinner with local tamburitza band, and the next day we visited Krušedol and Hopovo great monasteries in Fruška Gora. And the vine house Kovačević was a real surprise with their bermut desert vine. We also had an excursion to Sremski Karlovci, small town, historical seat of many patriarchs.

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      What I’ve noticed in the conferences is that a lot of Russian guests speak English poorly. My writing is not the best, but my understanding and speaking is, so I was surprised that a lot of this young scientists did not prepare better for the English sections. I know, preservation of the mother tongue (native language) is an important issue. It is a part of cultural and national identity and as such is precious. I know this because I live in a multicultural state and I have to face everyday a fact that I have no idea what is that lady at the bus stop talking about, an it is a real struggle for me. For me, not understanding others is the worst thing in the world after not understanding myself. But, I think that if I were to go to another country, like, Germany, to live there, I would learn the language, and if I was presenting in that country in English section, I would make sure that I handle it well and that I can answer question about my work. That been sad, not only some of the Russian guests had problems, but one Serbian presenter particularly. I felt like it is a shame cause I expected the hosts to be better prepared, and he had an interesting subject, so it was pity.

I also noticed that not a lot of the people who were there care about how they look. And by that I mean that they do not look like much on the outside or how they carry themselves. Simply said, fashion is not they strong suit (pun intended). Either is the posture. I have noticed this before and always wondered why is that? Not to judge the book by its cover, and clothes is not the most important thing in the world, but science itself, proofed that the first impressions are very important and that we, as humans are bound by the *Halo effect* at the beginning ( http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2012/11/first-impressions.aspx ; f.r.: Naumann, L. P., Vazire, S., Rentfrow, P. J., & Gosling, S. D. (2009). Personality judgements based on physical appearance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1661–1671.; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halo_effect ).

Do they not care? Do they think they are above spending some time on personal appearance? Is a though behind that: I am a great mind, not a superficial peasant? Do they maybe do not know how? Probably more than one reason. It’s like with the presentation of professor Rodmoga Potapova, PhD: She kept going on and on, reading from her slides, turned back to the rest of the room, did not stop for nothing, did not care that she took more than 30 minutes to finish (usually they give each speaker 15 minutes); she is awesome. No, she is awesome, but, some regard to others would be appreciated. I guess they are entitled or simply -no bullshit- kind of people. What ever the reason may be, I will not forget a faculty member from a guest country who wore 1 pair of jeans for four days and whom took his sneakers off his feet in the middle of the round table.  Who knows, scientists aren’t well payed…

All in all, here are some more pictures from conference excursions.

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Vine house Kovačević

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At Hopovo, find a tree and sit beneath…

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Krušedol entrance

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Hopovo entrance

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Little me

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Is Cycling Normal?

The People & Environment Blog

A month ago, the television game show Family Feud, set fire to the Twitterverse with this question: ‘What is something annoying cyclists do?’ The highest scoring categories, which the contests had to predict, including such gems as ‘Riding in the driving lane’, ‘wearing lycra’, and, my personal favourite, ‘everything’. You might argue with me about the extent that Family Feud is an barometer of social values in this country, but I fear that it might not be too wide of the mark!

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