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02/22/2022

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Madeline Martin-Seaver

When the ASA Annual Meeting went online in 2020, there were several structured social events. They included a trivia contest (probably not so good for networking as a very new person), a talent show, and a show and tell session.

I don't remember the other events, but there were several. I think other online conferences could try something similar.

In a (temporary) non-academic position

I think long term regular themed workshops can help networking. For example, this philosophy and activism monthly workshop was very good.

https://www.philosophyofactivism.com/

Zoomedout

These strike me as bad almost conceptually. I’d prefer if conference organizers simply recognized the limits of the medium and would give up on the hope that the ideal in person conference is the appropriate model for the ideal online conference.

EuroProf

The only time this really worked for me was when we had an online workshop over the course of a whole semester. We met once a week about a dozen times and each time one of us gave a talk. Afterwards, we kept the Zoom room open to just chat (for those who wanted to - some rarely did, some never, some always). I think the key was that we met regularly as the same *small* group and that it was not just a one-time event, so people really got to know each other.

anti-zoom

I am also very skeptical of on-line conferences, especially as a means to networking. Trivia contests and talent shows are not going to help quieter people connect in an on-line setting. Rather they seem like the perfect platform to support buffoons, and others who are fans of social media.

Just email

If you want to network with someone just send an email to him/her. Ask for a copy of his/her latest paper, people like to share their work. So then the lines of communications are open.

postdoc

Agree that it's very tricky with big crowds. (But then, even in in-person meetings, one does not speak usually to a "big crowd".)
One thing we used last summer when organizing a conference (50-70 participants) was an online space where people could gather and talk to a smaller group. I think it was called gathertown. Basically, you have a little alias figure that you can move around on the screen somewhat like in an 80's computer game, and then you only hear the people who stand next to you. It's much better than Zoom.

I'm not coming from a top program, but I didn't have problems with in-person socializing when I was a grad student. True, I mostly talked with my peers at big gatherings, but got to know quite a few good people that way, and occasionally a few professors from here and there as well. (And I really don't like people -- met quite a few -- who at conferences would only speak to people "higher up" on the ladder -- I actually find that quite appalling.)
I do find smaller workshops more conducive to these kinds of things though as well.

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