Dear MESAQIN Participants and Visitors,
Let me spend couple of words to substitute speech of Chairman of some Committee or Head of organizing institution that is as a rule hold during opening ceremony in case of traditional conferences.
It is really great honor for me to open officially the on-line discussion of MESAQIN. Since today, all contributions that have successfully passed the strict reviewing process are available on-line and you are invited to download them, study carefully and, if you have any comment or question, contribute to the on-line discussion.
Let me shortly summarize the differences between conferences hold in a traditional way and via Internet. The main advantage of traditional conference are interpersonal contacts that can be established and maintained during lectures, breaks and also during social events. Travelling around new cities, countries and exotic parts of world may also be considered as interesting.
The on-line workshops, hold on Internet, save definitely time and money for travelling. But this is for sure not their main advantage. I would highlight another aspect of on-line workshops - the length and way of discussion. It enables to participate to anybody without stressy timing of traditional conference sections. One can, sitting in his favourite chair, precisely formulate his question to authors, and can read the article again and again to understand it as much as possible before putting the question.
For organizers, the moment of official conference opening is in case of traditional event usually a challenge between two periods: between period of preparations, booking rooms, beamers, transfers, accomodation , refreshments etc. and the hectic period of small but stressy disasters like unexpected absence of invited speakers after being introduced by the chairman of section, beamer faults, unpredictable lack of coffee during coffee breaks, unpredictable lenght of some lectures causing disharmony in time schedule etc.
Instead of that, organizers of on-line workshop can be afraid that the server will not work properly during the conference, that the server will be attacked by virus or hacker, that the software platform used for on-line discussion will crash or that some joker will contribute to discussion in a strange way. Let us hope that nothing will go wrong.
First, let me thank to all members of International Programme Committee. I am proud of each scientist that agreed to take part in IPC, they did an excellent job without any salary, just for the interest in this research area. Moreover, I believe that MESAQIN has got really top scientists - representants of nearly all main players in the world field of speech quality measurements.
Second, let me thank to all members of Local Organizing Committee. Sometimes, there are hard times to decide how to proceed - both during reviewing process and during on-line discussion. I am proud that all members of LOC did their best to keep the reviewing process maximally fluent, objective and independent and I believe that they will proceed in the same way also during the on-line discussion and Printed Proceedings preparation. I also strongly believe that all MESAQIN participants, both active and passive, will appreciate this approach of LOC and that they will finally profit out of it.
Third, I would like to thank to authors of articles. Without their contributions, there would be no workshop at all. They are brave enough to let their works been put on the web and to participate at the on-line discussion and answer very detailed and maybe even unpleasant question.
Last but not least, let me thank to all participants of on-line discussion. This discussion should bring the dynamics and flavour to the whole event. However, I would ask you to keep in mind the following aspects during writing contributions for the discussion:
1. The discussion forum is open for anybody. Off-topic contributions will be deleted but all the rest will remain on the web for several years, being kind of card of the author. Interesting parts of on-line discussion will be also published in the printed proceedings of MESAQIN.
2. On the contrary, do not hesitate to ask and discuss. Experienced teachers say : There are no stupid questions, just stupid answers. And my mother used to say: Someone who does not know something is still more clever than someone who does not want to know something.
Finally, let me comment a bit the meaning of MESAQIN abbreviation that is Measurement of Speech and Audio Quality in Networks. This research area that becomes extremely important and that is sometimes influencing important decisions of world-wide telecom players, is balancing on the border between exact mathematical world of digital signal processing and the real world of human perception that will be probably never fully described and understood. Each existing and future standard has -and will have- known and unknown insufficiencies and there is no doubt about it. It is believed that a new era of non-intrusive, speech recognition-based voice quality measurement algoritms is coming but we are really in the beginning.
Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attention and wish you exciting scientific experience.
Prague, 25th January, 2002