First up, Paul Heymman on the Stanford InfoLab Blog has some of the best coverage of the conference I've read yet.
In case you missed Jon's earlier comment, he has coverage of the Learning to rank sessions and workshop.
Paraic Sheridan, covers the keynote on Google China and its future in Africa. Paraic is a computational linguist at the Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL) at Dublin City University
Pranam Kolari, from Yahoo!'s web spam team has coverage of Kai Fu Lee's Keynote.
Best paper awards
I couldn't find the award information on the SIGIR 2008 site, but here's what I pieced together, please correct me if I'm wrong:
Algorithmic Mediation for Collaborative Exploratory Search (best paper award)
BrowseRank: Letting Web Users Vote for Page Importance (best student paper award)
Also, I look forward to reading Peter Bailey's paper Relevance Assessment: Are Judges Exchangeable and Does it Matter?
In the paper they examine the impact of assessor expertise on the quality of relevance judgments. In the end, they conclude:
...the Cranfield method of evaluation is somewhat robust to variations in relevance
judgements. Having controlled for task and topic expertise, system performance measures show statistically significant, but not large, differences. Similarly, system orderings allow us to identify “good” and “bad” IR systems at a broad-brush level.