Now that I’m beginning to emerge from the work hole that threatened to swallow me, I’m spending more time reflecting on the SIGITE/RIIT 2014 conferences. I wrote last week about the connection that being program chair made me feel to all of the work presented. But the conferences also made me realize that while it’s a ton of work, being program chair may be my favorite service gig ever. And there’s one big reason for that: I love presenting people with best paper awards.

I almost never have pictures on this blog, but this post requires some. In the first photo you see my program co-chair, the winner of the SIGITE 2014 best paper award and me.

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In the second photo you see my program co-chair, the winners of the RIIT 2014 best paper award, and me. (Many thanks to Jim Leone for the photos).

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What the photos don’t capture very well is how completely and utterly thrilled I was to be presenting these awards. The other program co-chair spent several hours laughing at me because I was so jazzed up prior to the plenary session in which the awards were presented. Having received two paper awards before, I can honestly say that I was more excited to be presenting these awards than I was to receive my own. To begin with, presenting people with awards is fun because they enjoy it, and sharing in other people’s joy makes me happy. But more so than with other awards, being able to present people with a best paper award is satisfying. You know, because you’ve read their paper and many (many) others against which it was compared, that the work is highly deserving. Being able to conclude the (perhaps overly) extensive review job that I did this summer by giving out awards to excellent papers made all the work seem worthwhile. Now I just have to try to remember the pain as well as the joy the next time someone asks me to be a program chair.

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