15 Jun 2010 crhodes   » (Master)

It's been a while. It's in fact almost embarassingly late for me to be blogging now about the 2010 European Lisp Symposium, which was over a month ago now – in my defence, I point to the inevitable stress-related illness that follows excessive concentration on a single event, coupled with hilarious clashing deadlines at work and in my outside activities.

So, we cast our minds back to April. When I booked my flight to Lisbon, I deliberately chose not to fly with British Airways, on the basis that they were likely to strike. It turned out that the activities of British Airways cabin crew was going to be the least of the problems associated with getting to an international conference...

Yes, shortly after I booked my tickets, Eyjafjallajökull went *boom* and most of Europe's airspace closed for a week, with ongoing disruption for the best part of a month. There were moments during the disruption when I wondered whether there was an actual curse affecting ELS, but in the event things cleared up and there was only minimal disruption to delegates and speakers, both getting there and getting back.

But enough about transport! How was the symposium itself? Well, I enjoyed the programme – but given that I had as much control over it as events would allow me, perhaps that's not the most unbiased endorsement of quality. Still, I was entertained by all the keynote speakers, from the window into the business world opened by Jason Cornez of Ravenpack, via the practical philosophy and view on history afforded by Kent Pitman, to the language experimentation and development in PLT Scheme Racket described enthusiastically by Matthias Felleisen. Pascal Costanza's tutorial on parallel and concurrent programming was highly informative, and there was a good variety of technical talks.

It's often said, though, that the good stuff at conferences happens between the programme, and for that the local organization needs to be on the ball. I'm glad to say that António Leitão and Edgar Gonçalves, and their helpers, enabled a huge amount of interaction: lunch, coffee and tea breaks, evening meals (including a fabulous conference banquet, but also a more informal dinner and a meal punctuated by Fado. I gather the excursion to Sintra on the Saturday was interesting; by then I was at the airport, looking nervously at the departure boards...

I enjoyed meeting and talking with many of the attendees; some whose names I knew but whose faces I didn't (and some whose names I knew because they shared them with other people who I knew already: take a bow, both Luís Oliveiras); but with always one eye on the next thing that could go wrong, I didn't get to go very deeply into interesting conversations. Maybe next year, in Hamburg for ELS2011 (expect the paper deadline to be around 31st December 2010) – in the meantime, there's likely to be a journal special issue with an open call for papers, coming soon, and of course the ALU are holding an International Lisp Conference this year, whose call for papers is currently open. So get writing!

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