Work / Life Ecologies

Digital Conferencing


Attending and presenting at conferences is a common practice of academic life. Conferences allow academics to gain exposure for their work, to form an understanding of the work of other scholars, and to become more connected to other researchers in their field.
Unfortunately, conferences also tend to involve a lot of air travel. Among academics we surveyed, over 90% of respondents attend conferences by way of air travel in the last 12 months. Air travel is particularly important for Australian academics, as both domestic and international travel often only feasible by air.
Given this, conference attendance appears to be a space in which reductions to air travel could be made.
Conferences are increasingly becoming digitized. Traditional conferences are incorporating digital elements such as livestreaming, video recording, and live-tweeting, which allow people to ‘attend’ without being physically present. Other events are taking place online entirely, such as the Nearly Carbon Neutral Conference held in 2015.
But do these events offer the same experience as ‘being there’ in person? Academics frequently cite the ‘informal’ part of conferences as being the most valuable for them. Socializing and networking often draws academics to conferences as much as the presentations, and often more so.
What opportunities does digital conferencing afford academics in the absence of flying to conferences to attend in person?
SUPP researchers will undertake ethnographic work on conferences, both traditional and digital. It will explore how conferences are changing as part of academic practice, and what conferences might look like in the future.



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