Sunday, December 03, 2006

My International Day

Friday morning I IM'd a co-author in India, in the evening I Skyped to Hong Kong. A Dutch professor emailed me about a paper we have with co-authors in Russia and the Czech republic. A New Zealand professor asks me a complexity question. On the train ride home I worked on a paper with Portuguese co-authors.

What amazes me is not just the international connections but that I usually don't even realize when I deal with someone overseas. Academic research has gone truly global, where I can call, instant message, email and send papers to colleagues across oceans as quickly and easily as across campus. And as we get more used to this technology the smaller the world becomes and at some point we stop connecting people to countries but rather to points on the internet.

On the other hand these colleagues didn't get to share my experience with Chicago's first blizzard of the season. Too bad I couldn't IM the snow to India.

12 comments:

  1. Keep your imperialistic snow to yourself, we dont want it here in India.

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  2. Very interesting, but my guess is that your experience is unusual. How many collaborators do you think the "typical" person has?

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  3. Who is this "typical" person of whom you speak? I have yet to meet anyone in the theoretical computer science community that I would rate "typical" or even "quasi-typical".

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  4. Another side of the story: as members of communities that spread across geographical frontiers, we researchers are also huge contributers to global warming.

    At a international conference recently the discussion went on global warming, with colleagues typically complaining about the inability of the governements to take serious action. At the very same moment we were involved in an event gathering hundreds of people from the whole planet. Would have been interesting to evaluate the cumulated mileage and cost in terms of CO2. I am personally not driving but as most researchers I pollute much more than a frequent driver, just because of my use of air flights.

    Difficult to see a solution that would not involve a considerable reduction of physical meetings. To some extent, the modern communication facilities mentioned by Lance could replace many scientific meetings of secondary importance. Who has tried "virtual conferences"?

    lucas

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  5. Keep your imperialistic snow to yourself, we dont want it here in India.

    Fine. We'll outsource it to India then.

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  6. If you couldn't IM'd snow to India, maybe you could IM it to Russia at least. We badly miss it. It is not normal at all --- another consequence of industrialisation.

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  7. I realized in the last year that another "internationalisation" can come from Tablet PCs, laptops on which screen you can "draw".

    In the last monthes I have been giving "free" reviews of research papers, book chapters and PhD thesis from various authors oversee (Japan, Italy, France) from my cozy appartment in Canada. I just read those for my own interest, and annotated it on the way and sent the annotated copy to the author, free to them to ignore it or not, exactly as I do with local students and collaborators.

    It comes to the point where listing the page and line numbers of the typos for the anonymous review of a conference paper sounds like unnecessary cumbersome. I know it would challenge the anonymicity of the reviews, but wouldn't it be better to allow the refereee to send an annotated pdf along with their report on submitted papers?

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  8. I heard the travel promoter Rick Steves claim that for every flight he takes, he puts donates to tree-planting to an extent that is supposed to compensate for the CO2 emissions of the flight. I wonder what that kind of thing would cost for conferences?

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  9. That lance still noticed this and
    felt a need to comment on it shows
    he is STILL old-school. I suspect his kids
    won't think twice about IMing to
    Antartica or Timbucktu. Nor will they
    have any notion of blogging about it
    or telling their friends about it.

    At one time people would sday``GUESS WHAT,
    TODAY I USED ONE OF THOSE NEW-FANGLED
    DEVICES CALLED A TELEPHONE!'' Today
    nobody would think of commenting on this.
    IMing internationally or other things
    Lance mentioned will soon be not
    worth commenting on. Perhaps they
    already are.

    bill gasarch

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  10. I am personally not driving but as most researchers I pollute much more than a frequent driver, just because of my use of air flights.

    Unless you are taking a private jet everywhere, this is blatantly false. You have to amortize the emissions over hundreds of passengers.

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  11. I suspect his kids
    won't think twice about IMing to
    Antartica


    Well the exciting thing about wouldn't be the global communication so much as Anatartica having enough people to support TCS research.

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  12. Joachim Gudmundsson4:48 PM, December 12, 2006

    Here's an article regarding the energy impact of a conference:

    "Personal energy impact of attending a professional meeting"
    R. A. Herendeen.
    Energy, 29(1):13-17, 2004.

    This year I partially (I travelled more than I planned, as usual) offset the CO2 emissions from my flight travels. There are heaps of websites where you can do this, for example, www.greenmyflight.com.

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