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Anne Cirkel
Anne Cirkel
Anne Cirkel is the General Chair for the 52nd DAC and a Senior Director for Technology Marketing at Mentor Graphics. Prior to joining Mentor Anne held marketing management positions at Analogy, Viewlogic, and Berner & Mattner. Anne holds a Master's degree in Business Administration with an … More »

Why the DAC Designer Track is the best deal in town

 
May 28th, 2015 by Anne Cirkel

Memorial Day has come and gone, which means two things: summer is here and DAC is officially upon us. In just over a week the doors will open at Moscone Center with a blockbuster designer keynote: Brian Otis, director of Google’s smart contact lens project. Brian, the first Googler to ever take DAC’s main stage, is just one reason to consider registering for the designer and IP tracks if you haven’t already. Others include access to great lineup of marketing-free, engineer-to-engineer sessions, daily networking receptions (yes, you grown-up undergrads, there will be lots of free food and drink), the rest of the keynotes (did you know DAC is also welcoming a MacArthur genius this year?) and of course the exhibit floor. Not bad for just $95.

Wrapping up my year as #52DAC general chair, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this whole business of offering up information or content of any kind. I’ve seen firsthand how the internet has splintered audiences and attention spans, putting pressure on established business models and creating a universe of niches. However in some ways, given this general cacophony, established publications and conferences matter more than ever, even if readership and attendance trends generally point down. How else to explain our record-breaking number of submissions across DAC, including for the designer and IP tracks?

I was curious for other examples of this phenomenon and given the peer review process, the world of academic publishing seemed a good place to look. Nearly all would agree that scientific and technical publishing — in traditional peer-reviewed journals and also open archives and even personal home pages and blogs — continues to grow and diversify. Still, consider that over the last five years, the impact factors of tent-pole journals like Nature and Science, surely among the most important scientific publications in the world, have stayed steady or increased. The same holds true for the flagship publications in our industry, the Proceedings of the IEEE and the Journal of the ACM. (See below.)

journal-Nature

journal-Science

journal-PIEEE

journal-ACM

If you’re presenting content, association with an established publication or conference matters as much as ever. (Here I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that, based on the h5-index, DAC’s proceedings are comfortably in the top 10 publication for computer hardware design.) But what about if you’re an attendee? Obviously the analysis here is more complicated, but I think a similar dynamic applies.

The bottom line is that in our age of distraction and screens, face time is getting scarcer, and thus more precious. Networking in person, after a session or over a drink, remains far superior to the experience of connecting via social media or email, or just reading a paper or blog post. Conferences like DAC give you ready access to peers and industry influencers from around the world. This equates to great value to you, as you can meet with several people in just a few days rather than arrange multiple trips or phone calls on your own. And of course the content, based on our submissions, will be excellent and sure to help you in your career.

So yes, nichification may make things tough for those of us in the conference business, but it’s generally great news for you as attendees. The competition for your attention has led to some incredible values. The Designer Special (see details here) is less than the cost of a nice meal for two in San Francisco, a destination city that by the way is another great reason to attend, even if you’re just driving up from the packed freeways and relatively sterile office parks of the Silicon Valley. (Or maybe you shouldn’t sweat the Bay Area traffic and just take the daily bus to/from San Jose.) I promise that the experience at DAC will sustain you long after you return to your life in front of a screen — which for all it delivers still can’t extend a hand.

I hope to be extending mine to you in a few days in San Francisco.

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