Tag Archives: PhD

Presentation in standard format, S5

Some days ago I had to give a presentation for the 2K* symposium, a joint initiative of research groups from different IT institutions, based in Trento and in Genova. The 40 mins presentation was titled “Trust in Recommender Systems: an historical overview and recent developments” (check the source code!). It is heavily based on an old presentation, I just added some slides about microformats, a concept I wanted to convey to the audience.
Anyway, I took the occasion to try to create the presentation in HTML using S5: A Simple Standards-Based Slide Show System developed by Eric Meyer. I think I will create all my future presentation in S5 from now on. The advantages: it “forces” you to keep the slides simple (no unnatural flow of information) and short (however you can have animations, check this slide); it is easy to publish the presentation on the Web, anyone can link to a specific slide, search engines find the information and index them, it is highly standard, evolutionary and small-pieces-loosely-connected-philosophy-like (for exaple it would be possible to create a small piece of javascript code that collect slides from different presentations in some meaningful automatic way to create a new presentation, but the possibilities are endless of course, especially if using the S5 format based on XOXO microformat), I can create the presentation with whatever text editor (perfect if you are in text mode), it does not require the viewer to have some fancy program (openoffice for the freedom lovers, powerpoint for the others) but a browser suffices.
You can find many presentations in S5 format in the microformats wiki; I also liked this presentation of Firefox, with style vulpes-flagrans or with style greenery. Yes, I know the stile I used for my presentation is not that great, if someone with graphical skills would like to create a style for me, it will be very appreciated of course.
For starting playing with S5, I suggest you S5 primer (you need to download HTML code and edit it) or S5present, an open-source web-based slideshow application (you just create an identity there and then use the site for creating the presentation). Guess what? S5 Presents was written in under 10 hours and 500 lines of code using the fantastic Ruby on Rails framework.


Another conference, another received hospitality

I’ll be at the Web Intelligence 2005 conference from 19 to 22 September and present a paper titled
“Page-reRank: using trusted links to re-rank authority” (pdf)
. The paper argues, using a real dataset, that a link is not always a vote-for and hence the most linked-to page is not necessarily the “best” page; in short, attention is different than appreciation. However, at the moment, HTML, the current language of the Web, allows to express only attention (just plain links and not the reason for the link) and hence PageRank is only able to detect the pages, people are giving attention to but not the one that are appreciated. The tipical example is a political candidate site under election times: everyone speaks about her but maybe many do it in order to criticize her (yes, think “Bush”). The paper basically recommends VoteLinks as a first step into adding some simple semantics to the “link language”. In brief, VoteLinks is one of several microformat open standards. We propose a set of three new values for the rev attribute of the <a> (hyperlink) tag in HTML. The new values are “vote-for” “vote-abstain” or “vote-against”, which are mutually exclusive, and represent agreement, abstention or indifference, and disagreement respectively.. So that, with the following HTML code, you can state that you link to a site but you do it for critizing it and search engines, aggregators and rankers should consider this.
<a rev="vote-against" href="http://georgebush.com/" title="miserable failure">Bush</a>.
Anyway I started this post because I’m just happy to say that, just as past AAAI conference, I’ll be again hosted by a HospitalityClub.org member: Jérémy, of course I don’t know now. The WI05 conference is in Compiegne, a small city close to Paris, but nevertheless there were 4 HC members, I messaged them and in fact one of them, Jeremy, offered to host me, cool! Since I’m going to finish my PhD soon, would you consider hiring a cheap researcher? Cheap in the sense that the university does not have to spend for my wandering around the world, of course ;-) See you in Compiegne if you are there or in Paris: on the 23th it is very likely I would be visiting the SonyLabs in Paris.

AAAI05: my presentation

So my presentation of “Controversial Users demand Local Trust Metrics: an Experimental Study on Epinions.com Community” (pdf) went well enough. It was hard to condense in 16 minutes all the background knowledge (epinions.com, trust networks and (local vs global) trust metrics, controversial users) and the experiments I did and the results. I tried but I probably left too much content, this meant I had to run a bit and my English does not allow me to run too fast, I guess I made a lot of English mistakes and I wasn’t too clear. I also had another problem: in the early tests, I was not able to connect my GNU/Linux machine to the projector so I had to use the laptop of another speaker, but he didn’t have OpenOffice installed (can you imagine that?) and so I run my presentation with Acrobat Reader but all the animations were gone. Well, I guess that it is still a little price you have to pay for choosing freedom (free software as GNU/Linux and OpenOffice).
Anyway, after the presentation, I got some positive feedbacks and some proposals for collaboration so it wasn’t too bad.
And lastly, I enjoyed the example about controversial user I gave in the presentation. As you can see in the picture it was George W. Bush. I thought my American audience would have appreciated it and so it was ;-) Actually I didn’t introduce the slide with too much of a funny story or suspence but it got anyway some laughs. Would you suggest me a good/funny way of introducing this slide, for next presentation? Of course I could have used Berlusconi instead of Bush but I guess I preferred a more aggressive example. Next time, I’ll try to joke a little also about myself being a “no global” (not that I like this tag or tags in general) since I critizise global trust metrics and propose Local Trust Metric but this kind of subtle pun requires a great preparation for being effective, funny and understood and I didn’t have it. Suggestions in making entertaining presentations are welcome.
As usual the slides are released under a Creative Commons licence: slides in OpenOffice format. Enjoy.
UPDATE: the presentation is now also on Slideshare.

AAAI05: terrific talk by Marty Tenenbaum

AI Meets Web 2.0: Building The Web of Tomorrow Today by Dr. Jay M. Tenenbaum.
Terrific terrific talk, fascinating. I should have podcasted it because you really missed something (except I have nothing to record audio on, would you consider sending me your old mp3 recorder pen?). I was so excited during the talk that I happened to take a photo of almost any slide. Actually the slides were 94 and I photoed 59 of them! Incredible to me as well.
Anyway, you might want to read the slides (pdf) or maybe you want to have a look at my pictures (possibly as a slideshow).
He introduced all the stuff I enjoy, such as Blogs, RSS, wiki (wikipedia), folksonomies, tags, flickr, Del.icio.us, microformats (aka Lower case semantic web), technorati, pubsub, greasemonkey (bookburro, greasemap) and much more; all tied together in a fascinating, convincing, making-sense manner!
After his presentation, we spoke about my research and he seemed interested. He invited me to visit commerce.net for one month or so and I have to say that I really like the idea. I spoke also with Rohit Khare that is actually working with Tenenbaum and he has a whole bunch of very clever, fascinating, realizable ideas that would really make an impact. They also underline more than once that this kind of architecture/language-of-web2.0 projects should be open source and I totally agree with them and like it.
Actually after the presentation, while I was speaking with Marty and Rohit, there was also Jesse Andrews, the creator of the mind-blowing book burro (actually he got most of the attention, totally deserved by the way). I guess it should be too cool having someone presenting your hack on a conference and then go to meet that person and say “You know the Book Burro extension you presented? Well, I’m the creator of it!”. Cool! If you want to see how Jesse looks like, here is a picture of him and wait some more great hacks from him in few days.

First AAAI05 day and Invited talk by Minsky

In the opening remarks, the chairs ask to stand up to people that were attending the first AAAI conference (25 years ago!). From 6 to 10 standed up, that was a great moment. AAAI conference seems to be like the most important since it is the case that representatives from other 16 difference conferences in AI agreed to send representatives to summarize their results.
Another clever idea is to provide everyone with a Networking Card (see photo): Students have to find 10 faculty for increasing their network and faculty have to find 10 students; the message was “Meet 10 students/faculty new to you and find a common research link”. I think this is a perfect excuse to force yourself into bothering that would-be-too-busy-to-talk-to-me professor. Also worth mentioning is the First Annual General Game Playing Competition that would be played here and whose winner will receive a $10,000 prize!

After that we had the Invited talk by Marvin Minsky, one of the founder of AI, you might have read his “Society of Minds” book (1988). He had problems with the computer for at least the first 10 minutes and was making funny remarks about Microsoft’s inability to get stuff working. He presented a sort of history of AI. One of his point was that around 1980, AI got “physics envy” and went into heavy reductionism: you subsubsubdivide the big problem of creating “intelligent” entities and you tackle those simpler problems, instead of attacking complexity (I think he called it Panalogy). Then he had problem with the screensaver and the battery of his powerbook.
The slides he created were orrible, with too many words (see an example). He just finished a new book that is available on his homepage for free, it should be The Emotion Machine. I would have preferred him releasing under a Creative Commons licence that makes clear what is legal to do with the book and what not.
Then he started into discussing about “theory of consciousness” and philosophy. I didn’t quite get if he was criticizing philosophy as a whole and from now I think he just didn’t convey any point at all. At least, later on, he enjoyed the robots.
Summarizing, I was looking for inspiration from his talk and I got none. I guess that it is hard to satisfy all the 800 people in the audience and possibly most of the people liked his talk. Actually there is a post on AAAI blog titled “Minsky disappoints” that critizices the talk (some comments to it confirm, some comments disagree) and another post is more in the middle.
What I like about blogging is that allows you to express an opinion about anything. I mean, I’m critizing Minsky’s talk and I’m a totally nobody. But I’m free to do it. Of course my talk will be ages less interesting and my contribution in Science will probably always be less that 1/1000th Minsky’s one but I’m free to tell that I didn’t like his talk.

AAAI conference: workshops day.

I was volunteering as a workshops/tutorials floater (in order to get a free registration and a scholarship) and I didn’t get a chance to attend too much the workshops. There was a lot of “moving aisles around” in the early morning but then I was pretty free. I spent most of the time at the AAAI blogging platform. Later this night I’ll post about AAAI05 first day: there was the invited talk by Marvin Minsky and a terrific, terrific, terrific, terrific IAAI-05 Invited Talk by Jay M. TenenbaumAI Meets Web 2.0: Building The Web of Tomorrow Today“. Terrific! I almost photoed every single slide (my camera went dead so I’ll post them on Flickr later as well). Terrific talk!
And I’m writing this sitting besides Jesse Andrews, oh yes, that Jesse Andrews, the creator of Book Burro, mindblowing (and business models blowing) application of the century!

Off for AAAI 2005 conference in Pittsburgh

If you happen to participate in the AAAI 2005 conference (and read this post), pass by to say hello. The paper I’ll present is “Controversial Users demand Local Trust Metrics: an Experimental Study on Epinions.com Community” (pdf). Ill be hosted by roder, a (new) friend found via HospitalityClub. Actually I received a lot of offers for hospitality (some via CouchSurfing). And also for hanging around: for example, Violet Law invited me for an Indian party/fundraiser for Indian children on Sunday evening. I guess we can meet there. What a strange, small world?!? ;-)
UPDATE: I just received an email from AAAI organizers: AAAI05 has a dedicated blog and an user on Flickr (monitor AAAI05 tag). W00t!

Presentation on “Trust in Recommender Systems: an historical overview and recent developments”

I was invited by Stefano Mizzaro to give a lecture in his course in “Web Information Retrieval”. I spoke about “Trust in Recommender Systems: an historical overview and recent developments”. It was a lot of fun (at least for me). And I thought I could share the slides with you. They are in OpenOffice .sxi format (it is an open format, so if you program does not read a commonly used open format, you probably better change it). They are released under a Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons licence. This means that if you want to use them you just have to give credit to me and re-share your slides under the same licence. If you don’t want to re-share your derivative work under the same Creative Commons licence, you are still free, free of not using them. Enjoy.

AAAI-05 Technical Program Schedule

I’ve just received the Program of the AAAI 2005 Conference (by email) and I post it below for your convenience. I’ll present a paper there “Controversial Users demand Local Trust Metrics: an Experimental Study on Epinions.com Community” (pdf). If you are interested or you’ll be in Pittsburgh for the conference and want to discuss, please contact me at massa AT itc DOT it.
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