Meeting with other researchers that run or have run Emmy Noether research groups is very different from normal conferences and meetings. The participants are across all disciplines - from art history to zoology ;-) The meeting focuses mainly on strategic, political, personal, administrative and organizational issues when starting a research career. This year we had child care organized during the meeting and Vivien came with me to Potsdam.
On Saturday night I learned that we (our galaxy) will eventually collide with the Andromeda Galaxy (but after our sun is out fuel - so I do not worry too much). Vivien found this fascinating, too. Learning more about astrophysics (looks defiantly more complicated than the things I usually do) teaches me to worry less about the immediate usefulness and direct utility of research results - also in our domain.
I am fascinated how different research can be and at the same time how similar the enthusiasm is people have for their research. By now - being one of the old guys - I co-organized two workshops. One together with Dr. Hellfeier from DHV on how to negotiate for a professorship and one with Stefanie Scheu and Rainer Hirsch-Luipold on teaching and PhD-supervision.
I talked to Riko Jacob (CS at TU Munich) about teaching computer science in school and he showed me a picture of a tangible shortest path calculator (I took a photo of the photo ;-). Perhaps I have at some point time to play with the installation in Munich.
On Sunday morning we took the water taxi - direct from the hotel peer - to the central train station in Potsdam. Christian Scholl from Göttingen (he does Art History) took some time to show us around the castle Sans Souci. After our discussion I wondered if we should consider a joint seminar from computer science/media informatics and art history - in particular ideas related to ambient media, interactive facades, and robotic buildings would benefit from a more historic awareness. There is an interesting PhD thesis on ceiling displays  - for a shorter version see . I met Martin Tomitsch at a Ubicomp DC and I was impressed with the idea and its grounding in history.
 Tomitsch M. (2008). Interactive Ceiling - Ambient Information Display for Architectural Environments. PhD Thesis, Vienna University of Technology, Austria.
 Tomitsch, M., Grechenig, T., Vande Moere, A. & Sheldon, R. (2008). Information Sky: Exploring Ceiling-based Data Representations. International Conference on Information Visualisation (IV08), London, UK, 100-105. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/freeabs_all.jsp?tp=&arnumber=4577933&isnumber=4577908