Nearly Carbon Neutral Conferences...
Dear speakers and delegates, I wanted to thank you all for your participation in the Museum Exhibition Design: Histories and Futures conference. Over the two weeks, I have been wondering about all your experiences of the online format and how you had all enjoyed it? What were the advantages and limitations of the model for you?
This has been a fantastic conference - and further proof of principle of the NCNC format. For humanities disciplines, which are all about critical reflection and discussion, incremental knowledge, imaginative connections, I think the asynchronous online model is unbeatable. Setting aside the environmental gains, there are clear advantages over conventional conferences: you don't have to choose which panels to attend, you can watch presentations in your own time, rewind and fast-forward, read the subtitles... And for the organisers they are low-cost, easy to set up, and the proceedings are self-archiving.
Yes, I do miss those late-night conversations in the conference bar... But you can't have everything! I think we still manage to reach out, and make new scholarly connections, don't we?
Dear Claire and rest of the team,
thanks so much for setting up this conference in these weird and worrying times and also turning so many disadvantages of this year into advantages for this conference, which is clearly a sign for your very thoughtthrough way in which you created this conference. I love that I can be a part of such a big communiy and listen to papers from people all over the world without all of us filling many different planes that fly around the world. Also, in my case I would not have been able to join as I am just now involved in a project during the day, but the asynchronous model made it possible that I could listen to so many inspiring talks during the evenings (and I guess this counts for many here). I also very much like to read the discussions. What I maybe miss is the experience of a discussion with all panellists together. You created wondeful panels but in the written discussion it is not so easy to get into a mode of trying to think the talks together, comparing examples, creating new links...so far at least my impression. But on the contrary, I sometimes came up with a question one day after listening to the paper and the written Q&A made it possible to still post it and to engage in a kind of continous discussion...
Dear Tim and Johanna, thank you very much for your reflections. I have to say I agree! My own experiences have been really positive. It has been a huge, sustained effort for the organising team – far in excess of the other major conferences I’ve organised. And part of that is the demands of the screen and a live site that can be monitored 24 hours a day over two weeks. The possibility of listening to all the papers (when ordinarily in a conference this size, parallel panels would force choices) has been wonderful, but also encouraged an atmosphere of conference attendance as endurance sport (!) and a sense of being ‘behind’, although personally the rewards of listening to each and every paper has been immense. I have also really missed being able to communicate face-to-face with my co-convenors, and you, Tim, to iron out small details and help keep spirits up where people are flagging. But listening to the papers at times of the day that suit my caring responsibilities and learning patterns has been a revelation. The possibility of relistening to and focusing on sections of a paper that really resonate, benefiting from subtitles when my ears are tired (!) or when I’ve misheard something, and quality coffee on tap (so rare!), has made for a much better learning experience. Despite the distance, I’ve also really been struck by the intimacy of the conference. Of ‘standing’ next to and observing our world-class keynotes in conversation about co-production on the Q&A forums, of listening to co-presenters who are physically distanced laugh over their shared practice in a recorded zoom session, of hearing the air conditioning whirring in a part of the world where it’s hot (not here!). Being able to listen to perspectives from around the globe without costs to the purse or climate, being able to offer subtitles for access purposes, and being able to make the conference free to the 500+ people that have registered (thanks to the Centre for Design History) has also been a great privilege.
Dear Claire, Hajra and Kate,
thank you so much for creating this pioneer platform for hopefully many online conferences to come! I have enjoyed so much to be able to watch the presentations whenever there was time. I would not have been able to come to Brighton or any other place right now, not only due to the pandemic and the carbon emission, but because I am also on a deadline with my thesis. Although I am always happy to engage with other scholars in person, I really appreciated the QA forums and the possibility to really think about my own questions and responses. And there is another imporant advantage of this NCNC format: It allowed me to invite other interested researchers to visit the website and take part in the conference.
So, thank you and all the participants very much!
I think this conference has been wonderful but I feel that I could have got more out of it with practice. I missed a lot i wanted to watch and got distracted by paid work and deadlines. I also found it hard to watch as much as i wanted to just in terms of watching the screen.
I wonder if we could crowd-source some tips for attending online conferences? how to manage your day? how to ring-fence and protect time? it would be so good to have a list of tips for online conference newbies.
thanks to all the organisers,
Hi Lyndsey. I think you're right that we need 'practice' - it's about building a new scholarly culture, in which NCNCs rather than fly-in physical conferences become the norm. The more we do this, the more we'll develop best practice, and the habits of how to attend and interact. My colleague on a previous NCNC described the Q&A forums as a "republic of letters" - which I love! We're reinventing letter writing: articulate and informed discussions, unfolding over days and weeks. The key element is time - NCNCs need that expansivity, so that people have time to watch and respond to the presentations (more than 20 hours of material, in this conference!), and make new connections.
@lyndseyc Hi Lyndsey -I agree with you- I found it difficult to watch too much at any one time (deadlines plus eye-strain for me). I managed to pace myself though and I think it's a great idea to have to gather some tips for attending online conferences- these could be posted on the site with other access issues. Also agree with Tim about time - I underestimated how much time it would require both from an organising perspective and also as an attendee.