Attending Virtual VisWeek: Get Ready!

The IEEE Conference on Visualization (known colloquially as IEEE Vis or VisWeek) is the premiere academic venue for Visualization Research. This year, the conference ( IEEE VIS 2021) is going to be held virtually, October 24-29th. For class that week, we ask that you “attend” VisWeek - we will replace normal class activities with “conference activities” and encourage you to attend as much as possible.

You will need to register for the conference (free for students) ahead of time.

I’ve gone to VisWeek consistently since 2009. Each year, it means there’s a week in October that I am traveling and have to plan what to do with class. Last year (2020), the conference was virtual (online) - so I tried an experiment… I took the class with me to the conference. This worked out well enough that I plan to do it again.

Visualization conferences (including last year’s visweek) are among the best organized online events I’ve been to, so I have confidence this will be a good event. (I’ve seen some horrible online events in other fields).

VisWeek is a great opportunity to see the latest research (it is the premiere venue for Visualization publications). There are tutorials (with more basic content), workshops (more cutting edge things, less seriously peer reviewed). We’ll give you details closer to the dates, but…

  1. You must register! You must tell us that you have registered (this is an assignment on Canvas).

  2. Part of attending the conference is picking what things you want to see. So there will be an assignment (probably part of an online discussion) for you to go through the program - this exercise is valuable since it will teach you about what kinds of topics are happening in the field.

  3. You will be required to “attend” some things. Normally, you spend 150 minutes of your week in class. This week, you’ll spend at least those minutes in talks or events. This may require you to work around other things in your schedule. (last year, you could have satisfied this requirement simply by watching talks during the class time slot).

  4. The discussion and seek and finds will be related to the conference. This includes observing presentation quality (how do people make online talk videos?) as well as finding interesting things in papers.

The exact mechanisms for these will be announced soon. If you’re curious, you can see how we did it last year.

We will also make some recommendations as the event comes closer.

The web page for the conference is still in flux, so I cannot give you more details. Once I see what they are putting online, I will give better recommendations and instructions.

Some Explanations

There are a lot of parts to Vis, let me give some explanation to help you decide what to see.

  1. Tutorials - there are tutorials given on Sunday and Monday, these might be useful for you. In particular, Tamara Munzner gives a tutorial based on her book on Sunday morning.

  2. Workshops - these are minor events, co-located with the main conference on Sunday and Monday. They are less selective than the main conference. They are an interesting place to see preliminary work.

  3. Paper Sessions - this is the “central piece” of the conference. Like most fields in CS (but not outside of CS), conference papers are the premier venue for visualization research. The conference proceedings (full or long papers) is published as a special issue of the top journal in the field. Getting a paper into the conference is (at least) as big a deal as getting a paper into other issues of the journal. In a bit of reversal, journal papers get to present at the conference. Note that there are “long” (or full) papers, which are a premiere event, and “short papers” that are smaller, last minute things. Even short papers are rigorously reviewed.

  4. Posters - posters are a non-selective venue (almost everyone who submit a poster is allowed to present), but it can be an interesting place to see emerging ideas and student projects. At the virtual conference, these are held asynchronously.

  5. Fast Forward - the fast forward is a special session where each paper presentation gives a short (usually just 30 seconds!) video as an advertisement for their paper/talk.

  6. Special Sessions - there are special sessions, with Keynote and Capstone talks (highly recommended, they usually get good speakers), the Best Paper Presentations (usually good, because the papers are good and the presenters know a lot of people will be watching), and other things.