Bio-IT World 2017

Last week, one of my favorite conferences celebrated its 15th year: Bio-IT World. This is one of only a few forums where my particular professional community comes together to share our experiences, re-connect, and to try to catch a glimpse of what the future might hold. I’ve been showing up since at least 2004, and it’s always great to see old friends and to meet new ones.

I’m on the committee that awards “Best Practices,” and also “Best In Show.” This year I didn’t actually get to walk around and see the teams present their work. I missed that – it’s a private tour of the most interesting products and exhibitors. We were amazed at the strength of the entries this year. We saw projects from clinical diagnostics, agricultural genomics, semantic reasoning, and so very much more. The choices are never straightforward, but this year turned some sort of a corner for me in terms of direct impact and technical maturity.

The most fun two hours of the show was moderating the re-imagined “Trends from the Trenches.” Chris Dagdigian has been giving that talk since 2008, and he finally won his multi-year battle to expand it beyond just him. We re-framed the session as a panel / mini-symposium including five Bioteam people. It was a thrill to try to keep up with that crew, live and in real time. We tried a couple of experiments in audience interaction while we were at it, Slido to submit and vote on topics, and a pair of Catchbox throwable microphones. There was immediate synergy between the two systems: The very first Slido question was “can you reach the back of the auditorium with the Catchbox?” I couldn’t, but got an audience assist and it worked out okay.

I also got to give a solo talk in the Data track, focused on a couple of practical points about cloud technologies and data management. I’ve put those slides online at Slideshare.

Thanks to everybody at CHI who worked so hard to put together a great show. See you next year!

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