Let me spell it out. In order to really succeed in most areas of computer science, you need to publish conference papers and this, for the most part, means attendance at those conferences. But because of the institutional discrimination of border control laws and the individual discrimination that individuals face and the structural discrimination that others face, computer science discriminates based on nationality, gender identity, disability, and family status, just to name a few aspects of identity.Suresh Venkatasubramanian follows up with a tweet storm (his words) echoing Glencora's points.
Ryan Williams had a twitter thread defending conferences.Is there structural (i.e not intentional or institutional) bias in how conferences operate? I.e is there a systematic and persistent disadvantage to certain groups from how conferences are structured? If we consider location, and groups = non-US people, then yes.— Suresh Venkatasubramanian (@geomblog) July 6, 2018
Not much difference these day between blog posts, tweet storms and twitter threads and I recommend you read through them all.Because of where I live and work, I can collaborate with and see talks by many more people than the average person in my field. To me, conferences serve as a way of *leveling* that field, giving a venue where people from all over can benefit similarly.— R. Ryan Williams (@rrwilliams) July 7, 2018
Much as I think conferences should not serve as publication venues, they do and should play a major role in connecting people within the community. We should do our best to mitigate the real concerns of Glencora and Suresh, create an environment that everyone feels comfortable, have travel support and child care to make it easier and have meetings in different countries so those with visa issues can still attend at times. But we cannot eliminate the conference without eliminating the community. Personal interactions matter.