I’m going to Salzburg today, to the program committee meeting for ACM’s Hypertext ’05. Hypertext ’98 was the first conference I ever went to. It was my first time in the US and my first long journey absolutely all alone, knowing nobody. I was so scared I thought of just not going, but thank goodness my supervisor insisted that not only should I go, but I also had a task: I had to give his regards to Stuart Moulthrop. That involved talking with Stuart Moulthrop, terrifying thought, though of course, once I did I found he was human and actually really friendly and gave me some great advice on my MA thesis.
So I’ve been a reviewer for a few years, and this year they asked me to be on the program commitee as co-chair for the literary hypertext theme, and I get to go to Salzburg which my girlfriend tells me is the most beautiful town in Austria. The hypertext conferences are interesting, because there are always lots of computer scientists, but there are also always some literary types who are interested in using hypertext for writing. I also like the way in which the conference looks after its history by making an effort to cite previous works in the community. There’s an awareness that people have been working on this stuff for decades that I appreciate. Papers are also reviewed much more thoroughly and helpfully than I’ve seen at other conferences.
It’s the first time I’ve been on the kind of program commitee where you actually fly in and meet in person. They have this great system this year, with junior and senior theme chairs. So Jim Rosenberg, who’s knows the hypertext conferences in and out, is the senior chair for my theme and I get to ask him all the dumb questions. He’s not actually going to the meeting, though.