• Mainly about engagement and collaboration using social media and events, with some asides on living in London. More about David Wilcox and also how the blog started.
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As one of the organisers of the Barcelona conference, I'd like to comment your ten top points. As you can see, our ideal conferences are quite similar

>1 The conference provides good content, >good contacts and also good fun. You are >able to choose your balance.

Couldn't agree more on that. As matter of fact it would be difficult to find someone that disagrees. Maybe some sort of Calvinistic talker that is not interested in fun? ;-D

>2 All significant content is available >online so that contributors can concentrate >on key points and interacting with >participants. Presentations are short, >conversation are long.
We tried that once, and you'd be surprise on how many many people didn't even look at the website for the content...

>3 Organisers host an early reception or >other event at which they make >introductions and help people get to know >each other. No-one is a wall-flower if they >don't want to be.
I take a mental note on that

>4 Badges are big and legible, and >correspond with the attendance list that >has email addresses for follow up. Pictures >would be nice, so you can easily mark up >who to meet later (or avoid).
hmmm.. I imagine looong loong discussions with the speakers trying to get the pictures ...

>5 Meals are mainly buffet so you aren't >stuck with two people either side.... or >have to pluck up courage to suggest musical >chairs.
Absolutely right!! I'd love to hung around and talk to all the speakers during the lunch. As a matter of fact I missed most of them because of that...

>8 Appropriate technology is available.
My own suspicicion is that Wiki space would be more or less empty. It is difficult to get the full text of the conference from some speakers... Imagine convincing them to join the Wiki...

> but give participants a real chance to >question and develop ideas.
I tried that. But the most "euros" where really against. As a matter of fact, they wanted to give even more time to speakers to talk and talk and talk.

My own ideal conference consists in panels where speakers only have five minutes to present their own ideas and then the rest of the time is either open discussion or, even better, free time for people to discuss face to face details of the project
But you know, euro-academicism can be so annyoing...

> The fun element is more varied than "now >let's all go to the bar." I'm all for >people making their own amusements, but >options for visits can be worthwhile... >particularly if they are to places or >projects you wouldn't find on your own.
I see what you mean, but here I disagree. I am a sort of explorer myself and and I always avoid organised excursions during meetings. But I guess you are right. It wouldn't have harmed some sightseeing in Barcelona... Another mental note.

Hope it helps


David - thanks for an excellent reality check from the organiser's viewpoint. I think a checklist of the responsibilities of conference participants would be really useful!
- commit to replying to registration requests promptly
- make an effort to meet new people
- turn up to sessions ontime....

Why my ideal speaker may not be yours

Couldn't resist David invitation, so here it goes my own list

Before the conference

1. Timing is key. Some days delay in sending just one piece of info (for example, an abstract) stops the whole process. Let us say a programme should be ready by May the First. If one speaker takes one week in replying, then everything is stopped, we cannot finish the programme until we have confirmation, no possibility to print catalogues, difficult to close the timetable... A nightmare

2. Fit your discourse to the audience. Some speakers have a "ready to read" presentation that they deliver everywhere, no matter what the background of the speakers is like. It is easy to get angry if you are a, let us say, a philosophy of science expert and suddenly the speakers starts to talk at you like you were a first year student. Or even worse, you go to an introductory conference and the guy starts to deliver an esoterical discourse

3. Don't get too picky with language. This is more a Catalan problem I guess. It is common, and understandable, to mix Catalan and Spanish in local or national conferences in Catalonia. After all, almost everybody here speaks the two languages. However in an International Congress, to stick to Catalan when there is not enough budget for two simultaneous translations is a little absurd.
Nevertheless, we got lots of complaints from people (which of course were perfect Spanish speakers) because there was no simultaneous translation from Catalan to Spanish and they wanted to speak in Catalan. Some of them spoke in Catalan anyway and then we got complaints from the people from the rest of Spain that couldn't understand Catalan.
I guess it is the problem when you mix language, with culture and politics...

4. Read the information attached before asking. I know, I know, it sounds rude, but sometimes is annoying to answer to simple things that are already stated in the call for papers or in the further documentation.

5. Choose your communication channel with the organisers properly. If there is some sudden problem that needs a fast response, please do not use e-mail. It is not always reliable for many different reasons. A phone call in those cases is more than welcome.

During the Congress

6. Don't forget you are not the only speaker. Organising a Congress is hard and there are lots of problem. You may think that you have a problem, but it could be nothing compared to other speakers that are having real difficulties. Organisers are humans too, and they cannot solve everything inmediately.

7. Respect the other speakers. It feels odd when someone is speaking and the guy beside him is furiosuly writting with his laptop. You suspect that the other speaker is not really taking notes but doing something else. If you are the one speaking and you actually see that they guy is really writing an e-mail message the feeling is quite worse.

During the lecture

8. Don't read. With the easeness of publication that Internet gives us, it doesn't make much sense to read a conference. Indicate the public the URL of the text and try to explain something else.

9. Try to finish on time. When you are a moderator it is very rude to say to someone, hey your time is up. Move over Rover and let the next speaker take over. As a matter of fact it almost never happens. So, some speakers use this "facility" in order to talk talk and talk. Congresses need a very tight timing. If you speak like a quarter more everything is going to slow down and delays will accummulate.

10. Save some time for questions. To me, it is one of the greatest part of a talk,when the audience has some time to ask. That why you can see what was really more important to them, which subjects are less clear, who is doing similar stuff, and so on. Of course you'll always find the boring guy with a 10 minutes question which is not a question at all but an opportunity to say "How smart I am". But of course this is another story, the ideal audience...

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