WWW2003 Redux

I spent last week in Budapest at the Twelfh Intenational World Wide Web Conference (I was presenting a paper on the Friday), so spent less time looking at LJ than usual.

Some general observations on Hungary

  • Hungary is the land of pork. Everything has pork in it. I lost track of the number of different ways we were served pork, particularly of the forcemeat or cured variety. This is not to say that it was bad, just that it is a little surprising to find a small blob of sausagemeat in the middle of the (sweet) pastry that you’re having with your coffee.
  • Hungary is also the land of meat in general. It was asparagus season in Hungary. You could tell this from the way that they wrapped strips of rare roast beef around stalks of asparagus. Goose seems to be a close second to pig as the meat of choice. All the Hungarian food I ate featured large amounts of animal fat (but was surprisingly tasty); the goose broth I ate on Friday had a 1cm layer of goose fat floating on top. Marvellous.
  • Vegetables are anathema to Hungarians. The only salad I saw all week was labelled ‘rabbit food’. It wasn’t clear whether this was a cute folksy name (cf. cottage pie, etc), or a term of derision. I suspect the latter.

Some observations on Budapest

  • Budapest is a three-dimensional city. When planning to walk, bear in mind that hills may be involved.
  • The normal rules about prices in tourist traps apply. The downside is that I couldn’t find any non-touristy bars in the area of Pest in which I was staying.

Some observations on WWW2003

  • The sessions with the dull names aren’t necessarily dull. I kept well away from the XML session, but was later told that it had been rather good.
  • Chairing paper sessions is generally fairly easy. The difficulties arise when you have to invent a token question to ask about an uninteresting paper (because the audience won’t).
  • Having wireless access makes having an irc channel for sotto voce comments about the current session a workable proposition.
  • Presenting the last paper of the last session of the last day of the conference isn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.
  • If you know your hecklers, it is acceptable to heckle back.
  • Just because Tim Berners-Lee is pointing out factual inaccuracies in your presentation, doesn’t mean that you’re entirely wrong.

(photos are available courtesy of my colleagues Steve and Dave)

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