Sleep or Not to Sleep?
30 July 2003
of our sleeping attendees...
by Jessica Fernandes
Sleep. We need it, we want it, we seek to overcome
our reliance on it, but it proves to be a necessity we can do nothing
but accept. The mantra of the average SIGGRAPHian: "I’ll
just close my eyes for a moment, just one moment, enough to refresh
from the haze that’s falling over me". We say this, but
one moment leads to another, and another, and soon we are the ones
snoring disagreeably in the corner of a given course or paper. Visions
of such a fate, (although I don’t snore, or so I’ve been
told), forced me to walk out on one of the courses I had been looking
forward to attending all week. It seems we can overcome hardware,
software, and creative roadblocks, but human needs continue to hold
us at bay.
Having gone to “rest my eyes” outside, and having awoken an
hour later with the metal patio table filigree pattern on the palm
of my hand (not on my face this time, I checked), I began to wonder:
with so many events, courses, papers, and parties, how do most
attendees get through their (often sleep-deprived) days? The lines
at the Starbucks stands confirmed what most people listed as their “fix” -
coffee. An early morning course without that faithful cup would
be cruel and unusual punishment for most. Food is another important
factor. When running on an empty stomach, the friendly and approachable
SIGGRAPH crowd can take a turn for the worst. As I’ve learned
from experience, hunger can heighten emotions and emotional responses.
With networking an important aspect of
SIGGRAPH, most attendees can be seen frequenting the various
user group meetings, receptions
and parties related to the conference. Times may be tight in terms
of company budgets, but at most events I’ve been to, the
cutbacks seem to have little impact on overall sales, with attendees
fronting the costs themselves to keep the alcohol flowing. In retrospect,
I have heard people explain their perpetual sleepiness as a result
of late night parties and their early morning hangovers. I hear
the self-proclaimed “yes, I should probably cut back on the
drinking”, but this is only a half-hearted consideration.
The more prevalent course of action is to partake in all the events,
stay out later than intended, and get to courses a little later
than expected, the next day.
So, how do attendees survive the week,
stay awake and get the most out of the experience? Except for
the remarkable people who
can actually pass up events in light of the full day they have
planned in the morning, most of us fall somewhere in the middle
ground between consciously wanting to do everything, and realizing
it’s not possible, indulging sleep as and when it comes.
That said, throughout the conference you will see people dozing
off in courses, sometimes practicing daydreaming instead of active
listening, showing up slightly later than intended to morning and
post-lunch classes, and partying the night away. However, no matter
the approach to this experience, most people here share one common
attribute – an interest in computer graphics and animation.
As such, whether awake or asleep, most survive and thrive by constantly
drawing on the incredible people and things that make the SIGGRAPH
experience so incredible.