So many pixels and so much Andouille

Posted: 08.17.09
Siggraph attendance over the past 36 years.

This was my 30th Siggraph, I was 10 when I attended the first one… Almost all of them have been fun, educational, and informative. If measured by attendance, this year’s event had the poorest showing since my first Siggraph in Seattle in 1980. However, since the first New Orleans event in 1996, the ratio of exhibitors to attendees was higher this year (1.7% compared to 1.1% then.) Now, that may not be what an exhibitor wants to hear. They want the ratio to be smaller, and the lowest it ever hit was 0.79% at the glory year of peak attendance (49k) in Los Angles in 1997. This year it was just 11K, although it really felt like more.

Siggraph is part of the Association for Computing Machines (ACM), which was established in 1947. By the 1970s it was (and today still is) the oldest computer society. By 1973 the ACM members who grew up with the developments of the SAGE systems and the early CAD programs, as well as Ivan Sutherland’s famous SketchPad graphics drawing program, knew that computer graphics were a powerful tool for all disciplines of science, including medicine, manufacturing, and design. Thus, ACM created the Special Interest Group (SIG) for Graphics. Siggraph is now the largest conglomerate of academics, businesses and industries dedicated to computer graphics and CG animation in the world.

That said, there are only 8,000 registered ACM Siggraph members. Membership costs anywhere from $50 to $150 depending on where you are in your career—I’m pleased to say I’m in the $150 category. And when offered a 66.6% discount for being a member of the old farts club (Siggraph Pioneers) I declined. I’m one of those people who thinks we should pay taxes and I’d like to see the ACM thrive, but that’s a rant for another time and venue.

Andouille is a spiced, heavily smoked pork sausage. It’s unclear whether it originated in France, where the name comes, or in Germany, or maybe Canada. Nonetheless, the French colonists of Louisiana, and the Cajuns (descendants of evicted Acadians from Nova Scotia) made this stuff from meat and fat, seasoned with salt, cracked black pepper, and garlic, and smoked over pecan wood and sugar cane for up to seven or eight hours. It is the base for almost all soups, Jambalaya, mixed with shrimp, chicken, even crocodile (if you came to our luncheon you got to try alligator [tastes like crocodile]) and almost everything else that dares call itself Cajun.

And here’s the point - Andouille is to New Orleans as Pixels are to Siggraph – you can’t get enough of either one, and you’ve probably never met one you didn’t like, and in both cases the really good ones make your mouth water.