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Science in the 21st Century

Bee and Michael and Chad and Eva and Timo and Cameron will be there. And so will I. And many other interesting people. Where? At the Science in the 21st Century conference at the Perimeter Institute (Waterloo, Ontario) on Sep. 8th-12th 2008. And it will be fun. This is the blurb of the meeting:

Times are changing. In the earlier days, we used to go to the library, today we search and archive our papers online. We have collaborations per email, hold telephone seminars, organize virtual networks, write blogs, and make our seminars available on the internet. Without any doubt, these technological developments influence the way science is done, and they also redefine our relation to the society we live in. Information exchange and management, the scientific community, and the society as a whole can be thought of as a triangle of relationships, the mutual interactions in which are becoming increasingly important.

So, register now while there is still space!

Comments

  1. #1 bill
    April 8, 2008

    I am bright green with envy.

  2. #2 Barn Owl
    April 8, 2008

    We have collaborations per email, hold telephone seminars, organize virtual networks, write blogs, and make our seminars available on the internet. Without any doubt, these technological developments influence the way science is done, and they also redefine our relation to the society we live in.

    Sounds like a very interesting conference, and I am also envious. But isn’t it a wee bit ironic that the conference will be staged in the old-fashioned, high carbon footprint manner for many of the participants? Many people in the scientific community discuss the ecological impact of travel to conferences, study sections, etc. (this was recently covered in Science, for example), but very few people actually *do* anything about it, or change their ways.

  3. #3 Interrobang
    April 9, 2008

    Sounds like a very interesting conference, and I am also envious. But isn’t it a wee bit ironic that the conference will be staged in the old-fashioned, high carbon footprint manner for many of the participants?

    Not really — it would be very hard, even at the current state of the art, to hold a conference entirely by telecommunications. I telecommuted for three years, and it’s not as ready for prime time as you might think. You’d also miss the benefits of in-person networking.

    So, uh, Coturnix. I’m only an hour or so away, and I ought to go up to UW to do some research one of these days anyway (yay alumni library privileges), so can I buy you a drink? :)

  4. #4 Barn Owl
    April 11, 2008

    I telecommuted for three years, and it’s not as ready for prime time as you might think. You’d also miss the benefits of in-person networking.

    My university serves an extended geographic area, largely rural and suburban, and includes over a dozen satellite research and clinical campuses, so I’m not as unaware of teleconferencing options and pitfalls as you might assume. We use teleconferencing methods, AccessGrid, and an internal virtual community to link these campuses for meetings, small conferences, lectures, seminars, research collaborations, and journal clubs. Several of the study sections on which I serve have switched to telephone conference and web-based discussion of grant proposals among the reviewers.

    This issue was the subject of a recent (October 2007)article, “Greening the Meeting”, by Benjamin Lester, in Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.318.5847.36):

    These measures only address the conference itself, of course, rather than the larger impact of people traveling to it. According to the Society for Conservation Biology (SCB), 95% of the society’s entire emissions comes from jet fuel used in getting members to the annual meeting. Everything else–running the executive offices for an entire year, for instance–pales in comparison.

    Naturally, the perceived importance of in-person networking is emphasized by some of the scientists interviewed:

    Reay agrees. “I can’t see a future where we don’t have conferences,” he says. “A lot of the best scientific ideas I’ve been privy to have come over a glass of wine at a conference dinner or a bar later on.”

    This is a key quote, IMO, because it (unintentionally) drives home the real point: traveling to scientific meetings in distant locations, and schmoozing over glasses of wine in the bar, or over meals in nice restaurants, are much more pleasant activities than huddling over your MacBook in your office, communicating via AccessGrid. From my own perspective (not speaking or assuming for anyone else), it would feel hypocritical to expect my students to be satisfied with teleconference methods, while I jet off to distant meetings and schmooze in restaurants.

  5. #5 Eva
    April 12, 2008

    I’m still not 100% sure if I can be there, though. Won’t know until summer. I’m supposed to defend my thesis this fall, and if that’s the same week (or even the week after) I can’t go.

  6. #6 Eva
    April 12, 2008

    But, if I don’t make it to the conference, you know you can’t be in Ontario without saying hi, so we’ll have to find time for a Toronto/Waterloo science bloggers pub night or something.

  7. #7 Coturnix
    April 13, 2008

    I am not boarding the plane to go back unless I got to see you, Eva.