I returned last Thursday from HotOS’09, held in Monte Verita, Switzerland. It took me a few days to recover on the tail end. Staying up for the Eliot Senior Dinner Thursday night (and the drinking that ensued), and then the reopening of the NS Beer Club on Friday (more drinking) probably didn’t help my readjustment, but flying West is supposed to be easier, right?

I had a blast at the conference and thoroughly enjoyed the talks. Coming from the states, journeying out there, the stimulating talks and between- and after-talk conversation, it all made for a very intense experience. Having never been to HotOS before I can’t comment on the relative strength or weakness of the conference as a whole, but I have to say that I really enjoyed the many meta-technology discussions that I overheard and participated in, particularly the ones that happened on the terrace, overlooking the lake, punctuated by continuations of the little mini-debate about “Is this the clearest it’s been?” that percolated throughout the three days we were there. Subject included the aesthetics of technology v the desire for “truth”, anonymity and the review process, the role of computer scientists in society, and cycles of innovation and forgetfulness. 1 Maybe it was the distance up the hill, the overall sense of being “away”, or the small group of engaging, thoughtful participants. I don’t know. The alchemy escapes me, finally. It was awesome.

  1. 1. A lot of these topics were presaged, eerily, by a great conversation Colin Dixon and I had walking along the shore of Lake Zurich waiting for the train to leave Sunday. []