Short Announcements: STOC Poster Submission Deadline is Monday. Jaime Morgenstern set up a google groups page for students to find roommates for STOC, FCRC and other theory conferences, "particularly useful for women and students at smaller departments."
I usually agree with Moshe Vardi when he writes about conferences but not so much on his latest CACM editorial Technology Has Social Consequences. Moshe blames electronic program committee software for declining ethics of program committee members, increased PC service and more farming out papers to junior reviewers.
Moshe has a rosy memory of the past. I knew more than one PC member back in the day that would work on a paper submitted to a conference. The slowness of paper dissemination back then hid it better. Junior people and students always served as subreviewers, one professor even tried to run a course on reviewing FOCS papers.
What's changed is that computer science has grown and specialized. We have more conferences and each conference needs an ever larger PC to cover all the specialized subfields. Program committees have become unwieldy with ethics and quality reviews harder to enforce. These problems won't be avoided whether having an electronic or physical meeting. A strong PC chair makes more of a difference than the venue of a meeting.