Thursday, February 03, 2005

Internet at Conferences

One of my students wanted me to complain in my weblog at the lack of wireless access in conferences like the recent SODA meeting. Sorry but I don't agree. I've discussed before how I find internet at conferences reduces conversation between participants and prevents us from escaping from work back home. Is it so bad that the SODA participants were forced to (gasp) talk to each other?

On that note let me finish this post so I can pay attention to the talk.


  1. since I was at SODA, let me attest to the fact that not having wireless was a blessing in disguise. Yes, it was a tad inconvenient, especially since without the proceedings we had no real way of getting any info about the papers, but apart from that it was nice not to have to lug my laptop around (as I would have felt duty bound to do).

    Blogging suffered (I am still backlogged on SODA paper posts), but during the conference I actually listened in talks

  2. Well, perhaps it is a bit lo-tech of me, but my complaint is that there are no longer any terminals at conferences. I prefer not to bring my laptop at all if I can help it, but I would still like to check email once a day.

    - Eldar.

  3. i guess agoraphobic computer science people need their fix like any other addicts.

  4. I think your reasoning is flawed. Many of us don't have a compulsion to be constantly checking email, and can spend the day listening to the presentations and chatting with other conference goers. For those who feel guilty knowing there is unanswered email in your mailbox, you should consider your priorities, and why you are at the conference afterall.

    Emai should be there because it's the way we communicate (particularly outside the US, when cell phones are expensive). I would be willing to bet that while at SODA most of the participants checked their email at least twice, by either paying for an internet connection or borrowing someone else's. And if the numbers are that high then the service should be provided by the conference.

    Bottom line is that email is no longer just a convenience, it's necessity.

    And wasn't it ironic that the recommended way to get the proceedings was to download them off the web?