Tuesday, January 8, 2013

MIT and the WIDS experience

So much has gone on since then that I didn't elaborate on my trip to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab for the Workshop on Information and Decisions in Social Networks.

It was my first time back in the US after my graduation from Illinois Tech over 8 years prior, and my first time in Boston. I spent most of my time in Cambridge, though, as I was there primarily for work - either to engage in face-to-face collaboration with SCAI Lab's research contacts at the Media Lab, or to attend WIDS. My attendance at WIDS itself was facilitated by a poster based on a research publication co-authored by me, as a result of which I and a colleague - also a co-author on the same publication - were sent by Masdar Institute to the workshop. I'd say we had a pretty productive time, and it was nice to see our collaborators' lab in person, not to mention meet some folks I had previously known only as email ids.

Dr Pentland's group

Human Dynamics at the Media Lab

The legendary Network Challenge prize
My temporary desk at the lab

Cambridge was quite chilly, possibly as a result of Hurricane Sandy a few days prior. I also arrived the night before the re-election of Barack Obama, so there was plenty of TV programming with which to occupy oneself when bundled up in a warm and comfortable room at the nearby Le Meridien. It even snowed on my third night, and there was also quite a bit of rain and sleet.

The next morning

The campus was, of course, something I saw everyday. Again, due to work, I did not get a lot of exploration time, but I did get to peek around the Media Lab and the surrounding buildings.

The Great Dome

The old Media Lab building

The so-called Infinite Corridor

Food trucks nourish countless students and researchers

 The workshop, held at the Media Lab, was very pleasant to attend, thanks to the work of our collaborators and other organizers, the quality of research and speakers, and - in our specific case - the focus of the workshop on a particular area of research overlapping with one of the focal areas of my team at SCAI Lab. The great majority of the work presented in the speaking and poster sessions was very relevant to what we do and what we are interested in doing.

First day of the workshop

Workshop programme

Nobel laureate in Economics, Dr Alvin E. Roth, one of the plenary speakers

Our poster also attracted significant attention and insights

Although I spent most of my days at work or at the workshop, I did get nights free to head out and enjoy the city. Apart from great local clubs and bars, I did my first stand-up open mic in the US at The Tavern at the End of the World in nearby Charlestown.

Now or Later, a play I went to in downtown Boston

Attending a Grace Kelly performance at the famous Scullers Jazz Club

I sampled some local delicacies, including clam chowder

A night trek through downtown Boston

No comments:

Post a Comment