Daniel Lemire's blog

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Science and Technology links (March 27th 2021)

2 thoughts on “Science and Technology links (March 27th 2021)”

  1. How much is too much? It’s not clear from the abstract and the paper is paywalled.

  2. Tomas says:

    To me, the most important aspect of a conference is the chance encounters that the authors mention. But almost as important is the interruption of daily routine by going somewhere else. It encourages thinking differently about your work, reinforced by taking in all the different directions of thought in one’s domain, in person. Sitting in front of your computer, with the little bubble counting the incoming email, does not do that. The moment there is an intermission, whether scheduled, or just a less interesting moment in the talk, it pulls you back into the rut.

    We humans are contextual beings. My son’s learning behaviors suffered greatly in the pandemic because he wasn’t immersed in the school context. I can force him to not get up as soon as the Zoom call ends. I cannot force his mind to stay on task. If we stay set in our chairs, we stay set in our ways. To get new ideas, we might need to be in new contexts, and to me a conference is the most salient such dedicated time in a new context.

    As the authors note, the online conference destroys the chance encounters. But I fear the damage to creative impetus and ideation, which they do not explicitly note, may be even greater and only visible in longer run. If that’s the case, we are back to the fundamental question of social justice: is a more just outcome worth a less productive one?