Flying to Brisbane for IR 7.0: Internet Convergences (soon!)

Lunch: Corn bread w/ Bologna
Say hi to my lunch: Corny Bread, Tasty Bologna, and Minty Honest Tea

From September 27th – 30th, I’ll be down under in Brisbane, Australia for the IR 7.0: Internet Convergences conference organized by the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR). For people like me, I believe this is a seminal event to go for, not just because of your CV, but for networking with the most diverse gathering of Internet researchers around. To illustrate how huge this is, AoIR has received around 440 conference submissions this year, most of which around 220 should be presenting.

I’ll be torturing the audience with my research entitled “Building Social Capital for Online Youths: A Singapore Case Study“, which is a cumulation of my previous study on how we can measure attributes of social capital, and applying them to case studies (i.e. content analysis, telephone interviews) of community-oriented web sites in Singapore. While we have numerous social platforms online now (e.g. blogs, photo/video sharing sites), I see this study as a precursor to how the social aspect of the web could be further advanced. In essence, I wish to figure out how to push our existing online architectures to be more socially useful than before.

All said and done, this conference is going to make me really broke.

First, flying from Buffalo to Brisbane is a major ouch. I think it’s as bad as flying home to Singapore in terms of financial cost and time spent tossing around in economy. Then, there’s the official IR7.0 conference hotel which is the five-star Brisbane Hilton. Even though it’s said to be heavily discounted, the going rate is around US$160/night. The conference registration itself (which also gives you 1 year of AoIR membership) is $180. But wait, that’s not all… there are optional things to go for which aren’t cheap either, such as workshops and a Conference dinner ($42). In all, I am expected to dish out at least $2,600 for the 3-day conference.

What am I going to do?

First: Cheaper air fare.
Fatwallet has a great FAQ on “How to find the best airfare deals“. While I found Orbitz to be quick and cheap compared to Expedia, I just used since it searches all the travel fare sites for me. I eventually found a deal for my trip to be around $1,737 (including taxes & fees). Incidentally, Orbitz also offers several RSS feeds for travel deals so it’s something worth tracking for next time.

Second: Cheaper accomodations.
I scope out the area around the official conference location to find a cheaper hotel. My advisor got the Marriott Hotel for around $100/night via Priceline, so I might try that. Usually when I bid on Priceline, I always check for the lowdown on how low people managed to get with their bids based on time and location. I couldn’t find many people posting their wins on hotels in Australia, but I know it should be about $100/night.

Third: Cheaper social functions.
I’m really not sure it’s worth spending $35 for conference workshops, let alone a $42 conference dinner. It makes me wonder how financially-gifted students have to be in order to succeed. I’ve half the mind to organize my own social event by emailing interested student attendees to gather at a designated location for the poor student version of the dinner conference. We’d be bring our own food and meet somewhere public so we can concentrate on one another, instead of our thinning wallets.

Finally, I’m applying for conference funding from my university’s Graduate Student Association. It’ll be $400, which isn’t even a quarter of what I’ve to pay, but it’s better than eating dustballs for months. Sucks to be middle-income poor… you’re neither here nor there. What can I say… snakes on a plane man… snakes on a plane.

Aside 1: I’d love to meetup in Brisbane… if anyone of you lives around there, give me a holla!
Aside 2: What’s the future of cheaper air fares? Check out these price prediction experiments!

13 thoughts on “Flying to Brisbane for IR 7.0: Internet Convergences (soon!)

  1. FWIW, I think something in the neighborhood of 200 will be presenting. I’m not sure what the acceptance rate was this year, but not everyone who submitted is presenting ;).

  2. Oh, and:

    More power to you on the dinner. If you don’t want to compete with the “official” dinner, you could do it the night before. Or you could compete :). Either way, get something up on AIR-L soonish. You might be able to coordinate with some of the QUT folks for places, etc. Maybe set up a page on the wiki.

    Also, I found my airfare through Yahoo’s cool FareChase. I don’t know if it’s here or elsewhere, but there was a flight on Emirates that went the “wrong way” around: JFK to Dubai to Singapore to Brisbane. I thought about doing that, even though it was quite a bit more air time, if I could get a day in Dubai and a day in Singapore. Might be worth checking out if you want to spend some time at home. It was in the $1,600 range, but this was a month or more ago.

  3. Alex: Thanks for the insight. Last thing I want for my first major conference is to crash the party 😛

    Sacrelicious: Though we can’t meetup in Brisbane, hopefully we’ll catch up some other time 🙂

  4. well i am like… way south of brisbane. i could ask my friend to put up with you, i am not sure she’s going to be there for that period though (that should be near our exam break period for which she sometimes fly home).

    on another note, u can ask around! i am sure someone would be able to put you up for 3 days 🙂

  5. Panda: Thing is I don’t know anyone there, other than you and Sacrelicious. I don’t mind paying for a cheap hotel, as long as there’s internet access. Heck I could camp out in public library with a sleeping bag if that’s even possible.

    To get around though, I was toying around with bringing my Go Motorboard. That way I can scoot around the city on electricity.

  6. Hi,
    I read your “conferences are getting really expensive” post and this resonated with my feelings when I had to go to AAAI conference and the struggle to do it without going bankrupt.
    See here. 😉

    What I can suggest about Hospitality is to check
    I used it for AAAI, for other conferences and summer schools and for my holidays as well, and of course I also hosted a lot of people (even if this is not required). The experiences have been awesome. Beside saving money there is the “visit a place hosted by local people who can share their advises, their bycicles, …”. Wonderful opportunity!
    In case you want to try out couchsurfing, here there is the link to my profile page

    See you there! 😉

  7. Tried couchsurfing?
    Yes a lot of times, both as guest and as host.
    It is a wonderful idea. Some of the points:
    – you get in touch with real local culture, applied, not theoretical! (imagine going to visit a place with a culture veru different from yours, japan for me, for example, can you imagine the huge difference between staying in an hotel in Tokyo or leaving in the house of a japanese, eating with them, bla bla bla… ?)
    – they can lend you practical things: for example, in Pittsburgh for AAAI05 I was using a bycicle while the other conference attendants were stuck in their huge hotel!
    – local people knows what is happening, which restaurants are “interesting”, which places are autenthic, … and usually they organize parties with even more local people! 😉
    – you save money: this is not the primary goal but I terribly like the idea that in future everyone (also not-so-rich people) will be able to travel everywhere in the world simply because it is will be extremely cheap. Of course we still need to work on the crazy borders issue: I might travel everywhere, someone from Somalia has much more problems in getting in other coutries. This problem is at another level of complexity with respect to “level down the barrier for trusting each other enough to open our houses to (certified) strangers”.
    [basically, we are constructing the post-currency economy, have you read “down and out in the magic kingdom”?]
    – we are more than 100,000 and rapidly increasing!!!

    I was thinking of doing some research about CouchSurfing but it seems I never get the will to start ;-(

    So, try CouchSurfing and then express a “virtual” social tie with me so that it is easier for you to get hospitality! 😉

    See you on CouchSurfing!

  8. Paolo: I just saw your CouchSurfing profile page… it’s fascinating also on the trust / reputation level since both you and your host/guest would be taking risks staying with a stranger. You could study it from that angle. 🙂

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