18 August 2023

“Nobody will stop you”: The viral machine learning poster

You’ve probably already seen this poster:

Poster titled, "You can just put up a poster at ICML and no one will stop you"

“You can just put up a poster at ICML (International Conference on Machine Learning - ZF) and nobody will stop you.” 

Hail Eris!

Daniel Severo’s tweet about this poster has a couple of million views, and was also tweeted out by Nature’s Twitter account.

What is not easy to see in a typical online photo size it what the paper to the right of the poster says. It’s a gmail address. So of course I had to see if it worked.

And you know what, it did!

I asked for the story behind the poster:

The story’s basically what you might guess: a few sarcastic students at an international conference get to thinking that their field could use a little healthy lampooning and execute a quick turnaround on a satirical poster. The jokes are all ribbing on tropes of ML research.

There are two lessons from this poster.

The first is that there are no poster police. While conference organizers often direct presenters to make posters a particular way on their instructions, or tell people not to do things in the poster session (like the “No photos!” rule at Neuroscience meetings), the reality on the ground is, shall we say, more laissez-faire.

It's still the wild west out there.

The second is that the unexpected is a strong predictor something going viral online. Just doing something different gives you an edge for attention.

What poster would you make if you weren’t worried about someone else telling you, “No”? (Common sense and good taste should still apply!)

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Let anarchy reign!

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