For the longest time, when I saw some famous people at the conferences, I never dared to approach them and introduce myself. If there was somebody, who could introduce me, I would beg this person to do so, otherwise I would observe the object of my interest from the distance.
Last year at EDBT and ICDE I’ve started to change this behavior. I’ve realized, that it is perfectly fine to approach people I want to meet without any introduction – that’s what the conferences are for! At this conference there were two people whom I wanted to meet for at least 25 years (OK, may be less than that, because for a while I didn’t even think it could be possible) – David Lomet and Hector Garcia-Molina. Way before internet, sometimes I would have to go to Moscow, where prof. Kalinichenko had the xerox copied of their articles. These were “the classics”, something “everybody who think they know something about databases should know”. I saw Lomet from the distance at a couple of conferences, but shied away from approaching him.
This time, in addition to this admiration of the classics, I really liked Lomet’s presentation at the Big Data panel, thereby I had an excuse to approach him during the TCDE reception and introduce myself as “I was learning about databases from your papers, and I also love what you said at the panel today!” He told me, that if this is the case, I should convince my company to switch from Postgres to the MS SQL Server, which I do not think is going to happen 🙂
As for Hector Garcia-Molina – I saw him for the first time “in flesh”, and was absolutely taken away by the manner he is presenting. I asked him some questions after his keynote in hopes this will give me an excuse to introduce myself afterwards, but each time I saw him during the coffee breaks, he was surrounded by people.
At the banquet I kinds figured out that is my last opportunity. So I’ve chosen a rare moment there was nobody around and approached him. Most likely he won’t remember me next time I see him, but I am still happy I did it.
Another person whom I met was Waqar Hasan – a Senior Vice President of Data at Visa. I really liked what he was talking about at the panel, so once again, I just approached him and introduced myself, and asked about his opinion on the fraud detection. He asked me questions about Enova, how old is the company, and how long I am with it, and he said that he thinks it’s a really good idea for a young company to send people to the conferences like this, it’s a very good way to present the company to the world.
Also, there were many other researches, with whom I talked during the conference, and many interesting talks I’ve attended, and I hope that by the end of the week I will cover all of them.