[o-l] ISBA 2021 [百花齊放,百家爭鳴]

As usual, when looking for our ISBA World conference, ISBA [now] 2021, many alternative realities emerge, ISBA being such a popular acronym! The actual dates for the (true and only) ISBA 2021 conference are 28 June – 02 July and the location is no longer Kunming, China, since there is a pandemic going on!!! The conference is now on-line, which forces a complete rethinking of its organisation, away from a sheer replica on Zoom of the traditional conference. And with no registration fees!! I have agreed to join other ISBA members to contribute (with limited abilities) to this switch and obviously welcome comments towards it! Having greatly learned from the earlier experience with the One World Bernoulli+IMS conference last summer, thanks to the dedication and imagination of Leif Döring!, here are some line of thought:

  • Keep in mind days are 24 hours long and attention span much smaller, towards keeping the offer manageable for a fully engaged participant
  • Account and take advantage of the multiple time zones available to virtual participants to stretch the schedule to cover as many participants as possible, with a potential multiplication of (plenary) talks and posters
  • Avoid filling the on-line schedule with live talks but have them pre-registered, possibly with several levels of length and depth, including a one-slide two-minute version
  • Exploit on-line abilities to focus solely (?) on interactions, which is the main point of conferences, meaning participants joining for a thematic session over a reasonable duration to discuss talks or posters they had attended on their own before, with a catalyst leading the show with prepared questions
  • Preregister poster presentations as well, so that live poster sessions involve only questions and discussions, and group poster by theme (an attempt of mine at the earlier ISBA conferences) so that presenters and visitors can interact at the theme level rather than being stuck in an empty room with one’s poster
  • Create local mirrors when people could physically (safely!) gather to attend the conference, from watching videos and poster together to engage into a local plus virtual discussion during interaction sessions. I certainly plan to hold one such session in Paris [if there and not in Eindhoven on 28 June – 02 July]
  • Find ways to engage participants to fully commit to the conference (see above), for instance by preparing a “I am away at ISBA 2021” card one could post on whatever social or asocial networks one favours (but maybe not as one’s vacation email automated reply, unless the card is a few bytes…)

4 Responses to “[o-l] ISBA 2021 [百花齊放,百家爭鳴]”

  1. Dennis Prangle Says:

    Hi Christian – great news that this will have no registration fee! We have very little access to travel expenses here at the moment, so it’s nice to have a conference that’s still affordable in the current situation.

  2. Hi, Christian!

    I think this situation makes us think about possible alternatives for the future of conferences, which are less time-consuming, expensive and polluting. I would like to see a mixture of online and face-to-face conferences once we will be free to safely travel!

    Have you considered Slack for the conference? I have been to few online conferences this year, and the one organised on Slack was so far the best one! (And it was impressive, given that in few months the organising committee switched from face-to-face to online). Here’s the website https://www.isec2020.org/ (the organisers are colleagues of mine at UNSW).

    Slack gives the possibility to have all the material, the calendar, the presentations, the chats etc. in the same environment, and it could be access at any time. In my experience, I have much more appreciated this solution than conferences organised on Zoom.

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