A VisWeek Survival Guide, Part 1
VisWeek 2012 will be held October 14 to 19 in Seattle, WA. The conference keeps growing, and this year is adding a new industry track. If you consider going, you should register by Friday to get the early registration discount.
The full program has just been posted (thought it's still missing a lot of the details), but I do not recommend planning too much beforehand: there will be a lot of interesting sessions, and there is a lot of serendipitous discovery if you check out sessions you might not have thought were interesting. Also, it's generally a good idea to come for the entire week, not hand-pick a few days. VisWeek also encourages this by making one- and two-day registrations way more expensive in comparison to the full week.
The new industry track is meant to make the conference more attractive to people outside of academia. There will be tutorials, panels, and other sessions that have been picked specifically for this track. Seattle and the area around it is home to a number of large technology companies, like Microsoft, Amazon, Adobe, and companies like Google and Facebook have offices. There are also numerous tech startups, and of course Tableau Software (which is somewhere in between a startup and a big player). If you're trying to connect with industry people, or looking for a job, VisWeek will be the place to be.
In addition to the paper sessions, there will be a number of workshops, panels, tutorials, as well as the compass events for grad students. The indefatigable Liz Marai is focusing the Meet The Leaders event this year on industry and national labs, and yours truly will be one of the leaders you can meet for lunch on Tuesday (more on that later). The keynote talk will be given by psychology researcher Mary Czerwinski of Microsoft Research, the capstone by science photographer and visual thinker Felice Frankel.
I will post a bit more on local attractions later, but just in case you're still looking for a hotel: the ones in Downtown Seattle are rather expensive, but there are ones around Seattle Center and Belltown that are much more affordable. If you're adventurous, you might also try a bed&breakfast on Capital Hill. It's easy to get around Seattle on foot or using the pretty good bus system, so you don't have to stay right next to the conference venue.