Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saving Money and Gas and the Planet by Not Travelling

A UC Davis professor has been getting some local press for NOT going to a meeting . Well, OK that is not exactly the point. He (Timothy Morton) gave his talk remotely by video taping it and then having the people in Scotland watch the DVD and then talk to him.  The reason for the news coverage is that by doing this this saves both money and carbon output.  Given that I have been canceling trips left and right recently for some medical reasons, I like this idea.  

I even gave a talk over iChat to a metagenomics gathering in Berlin that was organized by Dan Falush.   I was supposed to go to to this workshop last week as a run up for the International Congress of Genetics (which I have also bailed on but they did not offer to let me speak remotely).  

I might add that doing a talk by iChat worked out OK ... we probably needed speakers for the computer on the other end and microphones so I could hear the discussion.  And not sure my talk was any good.  But technically, iChat worked out fine.

So what I am now going to say is that I am canceling the trips for environmental reasons ...


  1. So, did you go to a pub in Davis afterwords and iChat with conference attendees enjoying pints in a Berlin Kneipe? That's an important part of conferences too.. :-)

  2. I wish ... I actually zipped off to my doctor to become a cyborg (long story)

  3. wait for the announcement or see the preview here

    still working on something to write about all this

  4. I'm torn on e-conferencing. The financial and environmental impact of traveling to a conference are definitely an issue. However, there is something to be said about getting face time and meeting new colleagues. This is especially true for young scientists trying to get known. I usually only travel to 1-2 conferences per year. I think it's the senior scientists, with much more conference travel, that can afford to cut a few meetings (or econference some of them).

  5. RPM - So far for me, nothing replaces actually going to a meeting and, well, meeting people (going to talks on the other hand is frequently replaceable --- it is the meeting people part that is not). And you are right, for the younger people, this is pretty darn important. Although I must say, having a blog helps people get to know you in some ways too --- so for the younger scientists out there who do not have any web presence, going to meetings is even more important.

    However, for me, I go to many many meetings and workshops a year. And I say no to many more. So doing a few videoconferences would either replace some of my trips, which would make me happy, or let me say yes to some interesting gatherings even if I could not be there fully.

  6. Cool!
    I think ppl jus need to get used the the idea..
    eons ago EVERYONE complained about reading journals in PDF format and preferred to print it out.
    I hear these complains less nowadays...
    perhaps ur blog post might be part of a pivotal change in how we do science!
    though I must say why not pick a less OS centric vid conference too? perhaps skype?

  7. id ihcat because it worked well and you can install ichat on many systems

    but now are trying skype out --- might be better -- but ichat has some nice features skype does not


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