What we *really* need is E-conferencing.

Wed, 15 Jun 1994 12:37:17 -0400

Sorry, I'm suffering from information sickness. This must be my sixth
posting to ANTHRO-L today. But damnit, I just had to do another system

I'm currently on the conference mailing list for the JHU Pugwash
conference. What I like about this list is that we get transcripts and
stuff - it's almost like really being there!

It may or may not help our resumes, but I think going to conferences is
just a really great way to find out what our colleagues are doing. I mean,
I went to the AAA meetings for the first time last year, and it knocked my
socks off. SO MUCH STUFF IS GOING ON! Clearly, it would be even cooler to
go to the division meetings of the divisions I'm esp. interested in.

But I can't. The dept. (or CLAS/BOCC) will not give money for student
travel unless we are presenting at conferences. If we just want to go to
see what's going on in the discipline, as they say, rots o' ruck... we've
got to come up with the money ourselves - and on our meager TAships (the
faculty get salaries, and they get money to go :-() those plane tickets
can be awful steep...

So, having these conference mailing lists is good. I get to see some of
what's being talked about, without coughing up dough for a plane ticket...
but, you know, where's the interactivity? I wanna ask questions, argue,
debate, participate, schmooze, piss people off.

<Some people might say - why not just present? Besides the fact that
you need to send them papers for panels, etc. as much as a year in advance,
and I'm generally incapable of planning what I'm doing next week... there's
the vicious cycle problem. In order to do a good presentation, one might
want to go to the meetings first to see what other people are presenting,
and then present the following year. But you can't go the first year unless
you present...>

I see teleconferencing as the answer. I mean, with some technical
problems resolved (like keeping everybody from talking at once), it really
ups the ante on participating. Instead of 200 people packed into a ballroom
to hear a speaker and ask questions, you can have a 1000 people (or more)
all at terminals all over the country...

Once we up the bandwidth to handle synchronized video and audio
smoothly - and, based on some things I've seen, private companies like AT &
T have done it - we're basically there.

I mean, think about it. You pay whatever the current outrageous plane
fare is at the time to get in a room with all your colleagues and read a
paper and then listen to their papers. Save the transportation costs (and
the environment too)! Make it easier for people with less money (esp. us
grad students) to participate.

Just as I don't think E-pubs will replace hard copy pubs, I don't think
E-conferencing will replace realworld confs. Us anthros want to hang out
with our buddies in other places besides 'the field' - we want to hang out
with them in swanky hotels in cities we've never been to to check out the

But E-conferencing offers a reasonable alternative to interacting with
our colleagues in an affordable way. That's why I'm hoping it "goes online"
soon, and some 'realworld' conferences start to have an up n' running way
for people who couldn't come in the flesh to 'virtually' participate...

Yet another quirky virtual thought by

Seeker1 [@Nervm.Nerdc.Ufl.Edu] (real info available on request)
CyberAnthropologist, TechnoCulturalist, Guerilla Ontologist, Chaotician
Discordian Society, Counter-Illuminati Operations Branch
"The map is not the territory." -- Alfred Korzybski
"The menu is not the meal." -- Alan Watts