April 27, 2020


One of my colleagues had planned to attend a conference last week to present a paper. Due to a worldwide pandemic, that conference (and countless others) could not gather in-person. In this case, the conference organizer was able to pivot and move the event online.

I've long had a love/hate relationship with conferences. They are incredible for meeting people and networking with others in your field. Conferences also tend to require a lot of travel back and forth, which often feels like wasted time. Conferences are not cheap to attend. Once you are there, the tedium might be summed up in presenters that love writing long bio's for short talks.

A consistent theme of our lives during (and after) the coronavirus will be marked by what opportunities and limits the crisis provides.

Conferences, like so many things, will be changed by this. In fact, it will likely be quite a while before in-person conferences return. If that be the case, conference sponsors will have to consider what is important about the conference going experience. Some will thrive with the new medium and others will not. What does eliminating travel and lodging make possible? What makes a good presenter on a small screen versus a large stage? If conferences can be more affordable due to less overhead, does that change who (is able to) attends? How does one accommodate the most important part (if we're honest) about conferences–the hallway conversation–when there's no hallway?!

Opportunities and limits.

What are your new limits? What are your new opportunities?

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