04 August 2009

Conferences 2.0

The Ecological Society of America conference is now on. Remember to visit the Marmorkrebs poster on Friday morning, poster PS 88-134.

The question of whether conferences are worth it is worth revisiting. The Byte-Size Biology takes a look at several online science tools, including virtual conferences, and concludes that the virtual conference is not ready yet.

First: virtual conferencing technology sucks. It doesn’t matter if you use a free Skype on a $150 netbook, or a state-of-the art teleconferencing equipment with a 52″ screen and Dolby Surround, piped through at hundreds of Gigabits per second. You will get interruptions, cuts, lags, annoyances and embarrassing moments. Second: social reasons. The important parts of a conference take place in the hallways, poster sessions, meals, banquets and, of course, the pub across the street. Incipient collaborations, exchange of ideas, brainstorming: all those take place around the dinner table and in the halls. With food, coffee and alcohol providing the social lubrication, and the talks and posters the intellectual one. A conference is much more than a series of talks.

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