I attended the Industry Day talk that Matt Cutts gave Webspam and Adversarial IR: The Way Ahead. I have some photos of his some of his really interesting slides I'll post soon.
I then was on volunteer duty helping James with registration and getting volunteer gifts ready.
I caught Matt's talk,An Improved Markov Random Field Model for Supporting Verbose Queries.
I missed the second morning industry track session. I heard they were quite interesting, including Nick Craswell's talk on Bing. If someone has detailed notes, please share them! I'd love to know more details about what I missed.
Lunch was the ACM SIGIR business meeting. SIGIR 2012 will be in Portland, Oregon. SIGIR 2013 will be somewhere in Europe (multiple contenders) or in Israel.
I attended the Query Formulation Session.
Niranjan did a fantastic job presenting Reducing Long Queries Using Query Quality Predictors for his co-workers at Microsoft who were unable to attend.
I also enjoyed Extracting structured information from user queries with semi-supervised conditional random fields prsented by Xiao Li. It looked at the effectiveness of tagging queries, particular for product search. I enjoyed the talk, but I think CIKM would've been a better forum for the paper; it did not use or measure retrieval, the only connection to IR is that it used query log data.
I then went to the Web Retrieval II session. Nick Craswell gave a very good presentation of The impact of crawl policy on web search effectiveness. Anyone building a large-scale web crawler should read this paper. (On a related note you should also read IRLbot: Scaling to 6 Billion Pages and Beyond, PPT slides, which won best paper at WWW 2008).
I liked Marius Pasca's prentation of Web-Derived Resources for Web Information Retrieval: From Conceptual Hierarchies to Attribute Hierarchies which aligned extracted attributes onto WordNet classes. They manually judged the accuracy which sounded challenging and time-consuming. Instead, I would have liked to have seen the evaluation based on utility in a retrieval system: such as usage of the attributes in a faceted retrieval interface or using query logs. This is another paper that I think would've been more appropriate for CIKM than SIGIR because it was more about extraction than retrieval.
There was a UMass CIIR Alumni reunion. I only attended part of it, but I got the chance to talk (briefly) to a great group of smart and interesting people.
The main event was the boat cruise on the Boston harbor. I have some beautiful photos of the water. It was a relaxing time with friends. The only destriment was the slight odor in part of the harbor coming from the sewage treatment plant. Yuck!