Draft rules for virtual presence at AISB 2017

Draft rules to be circulated with the call of symposia.  Feedback welcome!  These have already been updated at least once…
Virtual participation is only permitted if registration fees are paid, and is strongly discouraged except in cases of necessity such as physical disability or visa denial.  AISB is about engaging with and learning from a community, not simply reading papers.  A conference requires real commitment of time and resources in order to co-construct new understandings and form new collaborations.  Where virtual participation is necessitated, authors are encouraged to attend for at least one full day of their symposium and to arrange if possible robot telepresence for attending breaks or other symposia as well, or at least a dedicated laptop so they can watch their own entire symposium, not simply to appear for their own talk.  Symposium organisers may request Access Grid rooms but must acquire any extra room charges for these through external funding.
I've been unimpressed at the last two meetings I've attended by some of the skype participation.  On the other hand, I was able to fully participate by skype myself with a Royal Society consultation, because there was adequate technological and organisational support such that I was able to fully participate in all discussions, even coffee.  So I'm trying to come up with guidelines that strike a reasonable balance.

For me, the biggest problem with having skyped-in one-off presentations is that if a group really is making progress in developing novel ideas, then someone helicopters in without having heard the previous talks, tea & dinner conversations, etc. they will be starting over from the position of the dominant paradigm, yanking the entire conversation backwards and offsetting any progress.

But also, I've seen it make other participants just plain angry.  Those who have come a great ways, given up attending other meetings (both because of time and travel funding) feel that their publication is cheapened by those who invest less.  It may seem stupid to throw away a learning opportunity, but so is every paper and blogpost -- we can't read them all.  I want to favour those who commit to collaboratively working to a new understanding.

Note (added 9 April):  Telepresence is a real and growing option.  Here's the CHI 2016 telepresence programme.  Obviously for now the hardware is more expensive than conference catering, but if there becomes norms for sharing embodiments we could imagine that coming under control.


Rob Wortham said…
It's also very distracting and unsatisfactory for local participants when the technology fails. This generally seems to be probs with audio. RW
I agree. It kinda breaks the flow of the workshop.