It's been two months since ELS 2011 is over and I didn't have the time to give my impressions as the programme chair until now. I still don't have much time, so it's going to be quick, but before that, here are two announcements in this transition phase:

  • the proceedings are now available as a single PDF file.
  • eventhough a couple of options are already under consideration, we are still looking for volunteers to be next year's local chair. If this is of interest to you and you have the ability to locate ELS 2012 at your place, please contact us.

About ELS 2011 now. I'd say that it was a great success, perhaps the most successful of the 4 occurrences. We got two full days of interesting talks on various topics and of different forms. We gathered more than 60 persons from all around Europe and also a quite a few from the US (ITA contributed greatly to that :-). The final panel was very nice (something quite rare these days). The local organization went also pretty smoothly.

In retrospect, and as the person in charge of the contents, I have several hypothesis on what makes such an event successful, especially in those days where academic events suffer from a decreasing level of attendance.

  1. Having a "special focus" helps. Having an important one (like Parallelism and Efficiency) helps even more.
  2. Having a regularly occurring event also helps a lot, especially for academicians. This is not new, but it really is important to know that ELS will always happen roughly at the same period every year. Academicians (at least) need to plan their work that long in advance.
  3. I also like more and more the formula of a "mixed" conference where you invite formal (technical) papers, demonstrations, position papers etc. Some people know how to write technical papers, some people don't, are not so good at it, or just don't have the time for it, but it doesn't mean they have nothing interesting to say. ELS 2011 had about 50% formal presentations and 50% demonstrations. I decided to create the different sessions not by grouping talks based on format, but based on topic, and I think this went pretty well. The sessions didn't look completely heterogeneous to me.
  4. Having invited speakers helps. This is of course not new at all, but here, I would just like to answer something I've read recently about ELS 2011; a blogger (I don't remember who) saying that he didn't understand why 2 out of the 3 guests were not speaking about Lisp at all. My opinion on this is simple: as a community (in general; not speaking of Lisp in particular), we have a tendency to be separated from the rest of the CS crowd and loose track of what's going on next door. We don't talk to each other enough. Hell, it's already so difficult to stay up-to-date with your own crowd sometimes! So when I attend a very focused conference, like a language-specific one, I'm always happy to be served a couple of talks that can broaden my view of things, even if they have no direct connection with my own activities. In our specific case, I was very happy with Craig Zilles'presentation and I can see how this could be of interest to us in the long term.

So, that's it for now. Stay tuned for next year's location, and in the meantime, remember that some other Lisp events are already planned: ECLM in Amsterdam, and ILC in Kyoto... simply my favorite place in the world!