I had to laugh at Liming’s latest micro-blog posting, Why are papers in top conferences very boring (these days)? It’s funny, but I’m not sure I entirely agree – I think top conferences do have interesting papers. Liming is saying interesting ideas won’t necessarily have had time to be well validated, and by the time you have validated and published your idea in a top conference, it’s no longer new (and interesting). However, I don’t want to see completely unvalidated ideas. Ideas are cheap. I want to see ideas that are realisable, and whose value has been described and justified somehow.
To the extent that Liming’s wry diagram is true, I think it’s more true of journals than conferences. In most academic disciplines, journals are regarded as the “proper” place to publish significant results. Computer science is different – top conferences in computer science (and software engineering) can be more important than journals. Citeseer statistics show most of the highest impact compsci venues are conferences, and even some workshops have more impact that some top journals! But (or perhaps because!) in computer science, journals have longer review and publication lead times than conferences, so the results there can be more out-of-date and so less interesting. (That is a bit odd when you think about it – journals are published several times a year, whereas each conference happens at most once a year – surely journals should be able to be more responsive than conferences in publishing new results?!)
Anyway, it makes me wonder how Ricky’s citemine system would work in the conference milieu. I guess for maximum market efficiency in citemine, the evaluation for new papers should take place in public. So, no workshop or conference would ever have “new” results – everything that made it through “review” (weighted average market price over the period since the last conference greater than some threshold for papers within some discipline boundary?) would have been published for the best part of a year. Conferences would be more like the Oscars – glorifying new exciting productions – rather than a way of learning about recent results. Maybe that’s OK – I think the greatest value of conferences is networking and nuance, and you would still get that at a Computer Science discipline’s “Academy Awards”. But these would be very different events, and norms of academic precedence would need to be re-conceptualised.