Fortunately, it’s the day before a 3-day weekend, and this is the 3-day weekend that we have a site powerdown for maintenance, so I came in to turn on my machines so I could turn off my machines before I leave. There must be a message there….
And the message is…”go home early!” So I am.
I did make an unpleasant discovery on the plane — the DVD player I have on my laptop wouldn’t play a Macrovision-protected disc unless I turned off the “TV out” on the graphics adapter, but I could not figure out how to do that, so I couldn’t watch the other movie I’d brought along (The Graduate). I hate copy-protection.
I got home a few minutes before Diane did; it was great to see her and Jeffrey live instead of in photos again! But I fell asleep rather early (before 9pm, not counting the times I dozed off sitting in a chair before that).
I worked from home today; tomorrow, I go to the office to see what disasters arrived in paper mail, and then it’s a three-day weekend. Jeffrey goes on a field trip to the Gold Country tomorrow, so we have to get up early (he has to be at school before 6am). Oh, well, maybe I can get a head start on things.
I’m back in the conference center (and at the microphone) for the second (and last) day of the W3C AC meeting. We’ve had one lively discussion (on the future of the Web), but most of the meeting has been pretty predictable, which shows that W3C is maturing.
I think I’ve been travelling too long. I took one look at the lunch that the hotel had set up and I decided I needed to eat somewhere else! It’s not that the lunch looked bad, it’s that it looked to be rich, and last night’s dinner covered my need for rich food for some time to come.
I remembered having seen an Israeli felafel/shoarma shop near the Dam tram stop (about a ten-minute walk from the meeting) last night, and decided it would do nicely, so I set out. But when I got to the Royal Palace, I found the going rather slow — the grounds were blocked off, and there was a big security presence all around the Palace. And they were laying out the red carpet.
I pushed through the crowd and eventually got to the restaurant (Benjamin Restaurant; I didn’t think it was as good as Maoz), where I found out that the security and red carpet were for the arrival of the Emperor of Japan for a state visit — for some reason, neither CNN nor USA Today had bothered to mention this, I guess because no Americans were involved and no bloodshed was expected.
After lunch, I headed back to the hotel; the direct route was still blocked, so I detoured around the “Oud Kirk” (Old Church). Suddenly, I discovered that I was in the Red Light District. My first clue was this sign. And a few meters on, there were a number of windows in active use. I continued walking, and about five minutes later, I was back at the Barbizon Palace, ready to continue with the meeting. Amsterdam is certainly a city of contrasts!
The meeting ended promptly at 5pm (much to my surprise); I went to dinner with Lorrie and Chuck Cranor of AT&T and Ari Schwartz of CDT at a restaurant whose name I didn’t think to note (not this one!). It was very unusual for Amsterdam — we had a salad, appetizers, and dinner in less than an hour! And it was tasty, too (I had swordfish). So even with a trip to Australian Homemade for ice cream, and missing a tram by seconds, I was still back in my room before 8pm. I thought about going to Boom Chicago, but decided I should pack instead — this was a good idea, since packing for the way home was decidedly non-trivial. I’ve accumulated quite a bit of stuff here in Amsterdam, most of which I want to bring home (I’m not sure about some of the paper given out at WWW9 and the meeting, though). But I got it done and even had time to watch the last half of the 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair.
Tomorrow morning, it’s time to go home! I’ve enjoyed Amsterdam, but I’m ready to be at home again.
Today, I spent the day at the W3C Advisory Committee meeting, which, of course, is the reason I’m still in Amsterdam and was able to play tourist all weekend. I did escape for a brief lunchtime walk — it was difficult to go back, since the weather had finally improved (it was dry if not exactly warm).
But the highlight of today’s meeting was the dinner at the Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel is clearly at a very different level than the Marriott or the Barbizon Palace; the only reason it’s a five-star hotel is that they don’t ever give out more than five stars.
The dinner was held in the Council Chamber (unfortunately, the room was too dimly lit to get a picture which does it justice). I don’t know what council sat at the council table, but without microphones, I don’t know how people at one end heard the other. Late in the evening, Jean-François Abramatic (W3C Chair, seated in the “Legi Gregi” chair (and no, I don’t know who Legi Gregi was)) introduced the
explanation of metadata by Tim Berners-Lee and Ian Jacobs, which was an appropriate conclusion to the evening.
The dinner ran to five courses, with a vegetarian option as well. Dinner ran late, even by Amsterdam standards; I got back to the hotel around 11:30pm — some folks were planning to go out for more partying, but I’d had enough and went to bed to be ready for the second day of the meeting.
(I wonder what kind of meetings get held in the Marriage Chamber?)
I spent most of Sunday exploring Jewish Amsterdam. Somehow, a Jewish community did survive the Shoah, and there are a number of Jewish cultural sites. But, of course, it is quite different from before the Shoah.
I started at the Joods Historisch Museum, which is in the “heart of the former Jewish quarter of Amsterdam”, housed in “what used to be four Ashkenazi synagogues”. (Quoted phrases are from the museum’s brochure; their website is worth visiting even if you can visit the museum in person.)
The Museum doesn’t focus on the Shoah — it doesn’t ignore it (that would be impossible), but its main goal is to show the religion, culture, and history of Jews in the Netherlands, past and present. And it does a good job; I spent well over an hour in the museum. I happened to be there while a group of Jewish students from London were being given a tour, and they were certainly paying attention the whole time. But there isn’t much emphasis on the future at the museum.
The Portuguese Synagogue, across the street, on the other hand, is a going proposition. They, too, barely survived the Shoah, but they are determined to continue as an active congregation (preserving Sephardic traditions, as contrasted with the Ashkenazi practices that most modern American and European Jews are familiar with). Their website is also worth a visit.
Pictures coming later….watch this space!
I took a lot of pictures (digital film is free, especially when using rechargeable batteries), some of which did turn out to be worth posting (and I’ll post others when I have better connectivity).
Then we returned to Amsterdam’s Centraal Station (we were supposed to go back to RAI where we started, but we decided to see if we could go downtown instead and succeeded in the attempt) and went to the Anne Frank House. There’s often a one-hour wait, but we picked a good time and got in in just a few minutes; then we spent a very sobering hour-and-a-half going through the house.
After that, it was too late to go to any other museum, so we decided to find the Red Light District. But none of our maps showed where it was very clearly, so we spent an hour or so wandering around (at times in circles) before finding it. No pictures, I’m afraid. Nothing dramatic happened, either.
Then I went to the WWW9 “thank you” reception at the official residence of the Mayor of Amsterdam, which is a very nice canal house. Here’s a picture of me in the back garden; I have more to add later.
And then dinner with some Microsoft and W3C folks; unlike other evenings when dinner ended after 10, this time we went right to midnight. I don’t think I’m going to get up as early tomorrow as I’d originally planned!
Or maybe it’s my discovery of vieux jeniver (I hope I have that right — the old stuff, not the new stuff) at the Poster Reception at WWW9 last night. It’s probably a good thing that it took me longer than I planned to go stash my laptop back in my hotel room yesterday afternoon, or I might have used the extra drink tickets I collected and then I know I’d be in trouble!
More later; I’m hoping that getting this writing out of my system and onto Dave’s servers will let me go back to sleep.
Hmmm…just found a little buglet…I adjusted my timezone to “Central Europe (UTC+0100)”, since that’s where I am, and also changed my page to put a byline on the page with the time of last edit. Much to my surprise, UTC+0100 means exactly what it says — no adjustment is made for summer time. When I get home to California, I’ll reset my timezone preference — I wonder if being in the same timezone as the server will cause it to honor daylight time.
Larry Lessig’s keynote
Larry Lessig (Harvard Law School) gave this morning’s keynote speech. He was erudite and polished — possibly too erudite for some of the audience, I’m afraid. What I took as his message is this: government’s proper role in the evolution of the Internet is to ensure that the net itself remains neutral, that it doesn’t discriminate based on who’s using it or what application is being used, and that a balnance must be restored between intellectual property rights and the rights of the community (the users of the intellectual property). When I get home, I’m going to move his book much higher in my stack of books to read!
I’m going to miss most of the afternoon here at WWW9 in favor of discussing the possibility of holding a future Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference in Europe, quite possibly in Amsterdam. It’s not clear that the timing will work out for 2002 (2001 is already planned for Cambridge, Massachusetts), since there is a great deal of planning needed to pull off the conference. More later.
I had a pleasant walk through Vondelpark while waiting to go to my meeting; it would have been even nicer had the weather been warmer, but it was still a nice change from concrete. Then onto a crowded and late tram (it appeared that two or three scheduled trams didn’t run) to return to the hotel, pick up my briefcase, and tram to Centraal Station for lunch at the “First Class” restaurant (a former first class waiting room; part of the waiting room was converted to a Burger King, so don’t take the name too seriously!) to discuss CFP in Europe. Details when they become clear; I think we made progress, though.
WWW9 is over
I made it back from the CFP cabal meeting in time to use the Internet connection to fetch e-mail and then catch the closing ceremony — it looks as though the WWW10 committee has their act together. I’m hoping they will be able to get more papers on the effect of the Web on society and the world, not just the usual run of technical papers.
Then a last hit of e-mail (well, this is Amsterdam!) and back to the hotel with Andrew Donoho and Kelvin Lawrence (IBM colleagues from Austin), then to dinner. We all wanted to walk and enjoy the fresh air, so we strolled much of the way towards Centraal Square, then turned around and ended up at Myrabelle (an eet-en drinkcafe) at Vijelgracht 1. We had a very pleasant meal (I discovered that I like Amstel mittlebock (I may have the spelling of “mittlebock” wrong)), with good, friendly, reasonably fast service — this was a pleasant change from the last dinner I’d had with Andrew and Kelvin. Then we walked back to Leidsenplein and tried to go to an Australian ice cream place, but it was closed, so we ended up at Ben & Jerry’s. It felt just like home, though it was a little less crowded (and a few cents cheaper, too).
Tomorrow, I hope to visit Keukenhof if the weather permits. Unlike the web site, the real place does not require Flash to be installed!
Well, I didn’t get a chance to edit anything yesterday (16 May), but that’s OK; I spent the whole day at the conference, so there’s nothing terribly interesting to talk about. :-)
Unless you’re interested in weather, that is — the beautiful weather ended abruptly yesterday evening with a torrential downpour and thunderstorm which reminded me of living in Florida. I haven’t seen so much rain in years — fortunately, the storm was short-lived (maybe an hour) and by the time I was ready to leave, the rain had subsided to a tolerable level. But I was happy to split a taxi with some of my colleagues instead of taking the tram back.
We had dinner last night at an Argentinian Steak House near the hotel. It was a much more drawn-out process than any of us had expected — one of our number ordered soup, which resulted in the main courses being delayed for close to an hour! Silly us — we didn’t realize that it was impossible to start the main courses until he finished his starter and the waiter had picked up the empty soup bowl. It was close to 10pm before we got fed, which was a bit late for a heavy meal — so I had a hard time falling asleep. I finally managed to drift off about midnight; the alarm came awfully early this morning!
I had breakfast with colleagues this morning at the hotel; again, we had some service problems, resulting in our arriving at the conference at 9:15am instead of 8am and so I missed most of the opening plenary panel. But I got to see enough to have an idea of the preceding discussion.
And now I’m in a panel session on “Practice and Experience”. There’s Internet connectivity in the back of the room; but there’s only one power outlet here, and that’s being used by the hub, so I’m on battery power at the moment. More later….
By popular demand (my mother), here is a picture of me in the terminal room at WWW9.