14.0041 down with conferences

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Wed May 31 2000 - 05:21:55 CUT

  • Next message: Humanist Discussion Group: "14.0042 "lorem ipsum" et al. ad risum"

                    Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 41.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: "Jennifer de Beer" <jennifer@grove.uct.ac.za> (41)
             Subject: Re: 14.0037 down with conferences

       [2] From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance) (39)
             Subject: Re: 14.0037 down with conferences

       [3] From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com> (23)
             Subject: Re: 14.0037 down with conferences

       [4] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk> (20)
             Subject: alternative to expensive conferences

             Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 06:05:05 +0100
             From: "Jennifer de Beer" <jennifer@grove.uct.ac.za>
             Subject: Re: 14.0037 down with conferences

    > Date: Sat, 27 May 2000 09:05:51 +0100
    > From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com>
    > >
    > Do people actually think that it doesn't cost anything to put on a
    > conference, or that the host University will pay all the costs ?
    > Both notions are wrong. If you don't want to pay the fees, don't
    > go. It's pretty simple.
    > I gather some people feel forced to attend conferences -- I have
    > never been in a school that insists on attendance..

    Yes, it costs to host such an event, and yes, the host institution is
    not (especially these days) able to foot the bill of speakers. This
    goes without saying, and hence the initiation of this discussion.

    As more and more people turn to freelance cf. full-time employment,
    it is more than likely that sources of sponsorship will be sorely
    lacking. Also, those institutions which do sponsor their employees'
    attendance, have evermore limited means with which to do so.

    Forced attendance: In days gone by, in addition to belonging to
    a scholarly or some such society, a conference presented the ideal
    forum at which to interact with one's peers. These days, it is more
    often the case that such interaction occurs online. Nevertheless,
    conferences remain, and so they should. What we should be looking at
    rather are alternative funding mechanisms or means of sponsorship
    (until such time that ample bandwidth and concomitant
    developments in technology will enable mass gatherings of a similar




    Jennifer de Beer
    Cape Library Cooperative (CALICO) & INFOLIT
    c/o the Adamastor Trust
    Cape Town, South Africa
    Tel: +27 (0)21 686-5070 Fax: +27 (0)21 689-7465
    E-mail: jennifer@adamastor.ac.za
    Regional Research Update: http://www.adamastor.ac.za/Academic/rru/index.htm
    CALICO: http://www.adamastor.ac.za/Academic/Calico/portal.htm
    INFOLIT: http://www.adamastor.ac.za/Academic/Infolit/default.htm

    Complex machines are an emergent life form
                             The Post-Human Manifesto 8.13

             Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 06:05:34 +0100
             From: lachance@chass.utoronto.ca (Francois Lachance)
             Subject: Re: 14.0037 down with conferences

    Dear Colleague Hinton,

    You raise some interesting points in your comments to the recent postings
    on access to academic gatherings (perhaps misleadingly tagged with
    the subject line "Down with Conferences").

    It is wise advice to suggest that folks mind their budgets. I do think,
    however, it is a bit of a leap in logic to suggest that those that forgo
    fees and thus forgo attendence at academic gatherings believe that such
    events are cost free.

    Take, for instance, the post-production cost of publishing proceedings or
    making reports or summaries available. At the very least there is the cost
    of time and energy in planning and implementing such communication
    exercises. It takes effort to remain mindful of the extra-muros crowd.

    There are also some odd institutional barriers. It has been reported to me
    that travel outside the continental United States is considered by some
    institutions as international and therefore not subsidized out of
    departmental budgets. Odd, when one thinks that the expense of flying
    across an ocean may be less than that of crossing a continent. VEry odd,
    when one considers that certain north-south trips are shorter anc cheaper
    and yet due to geo-political accident "international" and thus unfundable.
    Of course, the extra-extra muros people, those that do not hold academic
    postions yet remain committed scholars, more often than not have access to
    no travel funds whatsoever.

    The highly-hearalded great alternative to being there via
    computer-mediated communication is not so easy to implement. Time zones
    pose interesting cultural challenges for those attempting to organize
    online conferences (and cost balancing factors for host institutions).

    But a little while ago, Geoffrey Rockwell posted a message to Humanist in
    answer to the perennial question "what is humanities computing?". He
    concluded that one way of conceiving humanities computing is as a
    community of scholars. The discipline is the people. Or rather more
    accurately, the people in dialogue.

    A conference is a meeting of some of the people. Was a time perhaps it was
    thought of as a meeting of all the people. At what cost?

    Some dialogues leave traces; others are ever so ephemeral.

    Wouldn't you agree Comrade Willard who I suspect of priming the pump
    of dialogue with that prominently placed preposition "down"?

    Your Colleague/Comrade,

    Francois Lachance, Scholar-at-large

    --[3]------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 06:06:40 +0100 From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com> Subject: Re: 14.0037 down with conferences

    From: Osher Doctorow osher@ix.netcom.com, Sat. May 27, 2000, 7AM

    Dear Colleagues:

    While I realize that both sides have good arguments, I am inclined to be more sympathetic to Alan Sonheim's arguments. I am thinking especially of Socrates (but also the Classical Musical Geniuses, the other Ancient Philosophers, non-mainstream Creative Genius physicists like Michael Faraday and Thomas Edison, the non-mainstream developers of Non-Euclidean Geometry, Non-Finite Arithmetic/Algebra/Number Theory (Georg Cantor, etc.), Non-Mainstream Logicians including Mathematical Logicians, and so on. Not being in the mainstream, many of them could not have afforded to attend departmental-supported conferences. How much more would Humanities and Science have developed if they had been able to attend such conferences and thereby gained more recognition and friends? Socrates might even have been have been rescued by non-mainstream public demand instead of been poisoned by mainstream public demand. I will even go a step further and charge that the lack of attention to supporting universal attendance at conferences (not just mainstream people whom departments send out of well stocked funds) is part of a larger complex of ignorance which extends into the whole Peer Review process in which by definition most of the reviewers of non-mainstream papers are themselves in the mainstream with an axe to grind (conscious or sub-conscious or unconscious). If I have opened up Pandora's Box, I can only refer you back to Socrates who had a habit of doing this.

    Yours truly and sincerely,


    --[4]------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Wed, 31 May 2000 06:08:26 +0100 From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk> Subject: alternative to expensive conferences

    Some truisms. Conferences can be richly rewarding in all sorts of ways as well as draining of meagre resources. There's no substitute for face-to-face, and that often the most important mind- and life-changing events at conferences have more to do with meeting and getting to know people than with listening to their formal presentations. Conferences are very expensive to put on as well as exhausting for the organiser, who as a rule must break even or face dire consequences. Paying for a conference, travel and accommodations oneself hurts. In many fields professional advancement turns on attendance or is significantly aided by that.

    What to do? Let me put it to you that the better established humanities computing is, the better understood and accepted our medium for communication is, the more we can compensate for the deprivation of intellectual exchange by such entities as Humanist and its kin. What we do here is important for all the academy, though only we may know that :-).

    Yours, WM

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Dr. Willard McCarty, Senior Lecturer, King's College London voice: +44 (0)20 7848 2784 fax: +44 (0)20 7848 5081 <Willard.McCarty@kcl.ac.uk> <http://ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/> maui gratias agere

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Wed May 31 2000 - 06:22:34 CUT