A tale of two JMM. One hotel room in 2014. One apartment in 2021. Same. Costume. Same. Circus.

COVID has changed a lot about our profession. Clearly, it’s changed how we conference—there’s no more travel. Not sure about you, but I have actually been able to attend more conferences since quarantine. And it’s so easy. No paperwork to fill out regarding reimbursement. I don’t waste entire days in airports and shuttles and cabs. I’m never jet lagged. Yes, I don’t get to chit-chat with people before the talks drinking hotel coffee and eating Sam’s Club mini muffins; yes, I don’t get to stand idly after the last morning talk until a group way too large to split a check starts wandering in a zombie-like state to lunch; yes, I don’t have to wait in a hotel lobby for people to go to dinner, only to find out two of the people we’ve been waiting for forgot the meeting location and just went straight to the restaurant.


And who knows? Some of these changes might be permanent. Money is tight—how likely is it that we will continue to have massive grants for hosting conferences? How likely is it that we’ll be allotted money for travel by our colleges and universities (at least, to the extent we’ve had)? Why not have a plenary Zoom in to give a talk once this is all over?

仍然,有一件事看起来covid没有改变:我们如何互相交谈。这完全不合逻辑。这些现在在线的会议有exact same schedule因为他们本来就是他们亲自。为什么?我们谈论AD Nauseam关于我们在网上教学一天后有多累的疲惫;我们了解我们的学生和我们自己的孩子(适用时)如何遭受ZOOM疲劳。那么为什么我们就像“好日子”一样,我们将自己达到早上8点至5日或下午6点,就像“好日子”一样?jmm是这个完美的例子;what seems like 15 talks all scheduled at the same time, and with no apparent rhyme or reason to the booking (for instance, on day one two number theory sessions were hosted concurrently…and it’s not like there were number theory sessions every day of the conference). While quite a few people I regularly see did not attend this year, those that did had to take at least one conference day “off” because of the sheer exhaustion of the all-day online setup. And this isn’t to pick on the JMM. VERY few of the conferences I’ve attended have changed their schedule from “normal times”; I’m even co-organizing a conference right now, and one of the recurring and unresolved items of discussion is whether or not we need to have fewer talks because of screen fatigue.




They have some fair points. Why do we go so far, only to stop so short? Why have we failed to recognize our own Zoom endurance, or lack thereof? What is the point now that things are online in giving the same talk at multiple places [I mean…I can come up with reasons. First, conferences are probably never going to turn into watch parties of pre-recorded material. Second, both audience and speaker alike could actually get something out of questions during/after the talk. ]?

A packed house.


缺乏对数学的强调也解释了谈判,尽管在线环境,但他们真的没有改变。显然对许多人来说,数学谈话并不是为了确保你的观众闯入你的工作。更重要的是,只是给予谈话 - 无论它是多么强大或者收到的程度 - 在你的C.v上提供另一条线路..它为您提供了另一个机会获得名称。到网络。我认识一些人会参加会议,并在之后为编制的晚宴提供谈判。

MAYBE two people in this photo look excited to be there.

And this is something for conference organizers to think about moving forward. Certainly it’s been on my mind as I try to plan an e-conference. Maybe online conferences should have fewer talks, and be more selective in who gets to speak because of Zoom fatigue. Maybe just like some conferences in the “before times” insisted on slides, online conferences should insist on a specific format. Maybe online conferences should have more breaks in the schedule. Maybe online conferences should try to find ways to maintain an emphasis on the social events, because that is actually why a lot of people attend in the first place. Maybe online conferences should think about recorded lectures and what place that should have, or what that could be replacing.




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