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So You Want to Cover the Next Conferece via Social Media?

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Yes, you do. I know because you’re hip, right? No. Do you want to publish a paper about it? Yes. But that’s so 2008. Shouldn’t you wait for Google Wave? Maybe.

Now, seriously. There’s a current discussion on the subject after CSHL threatened to forbid anyone to liveblog/tweet/friendfeed presentations at their conferences if they don’t follow the usual rules for media coverage.

That’s outrageous! No, it’s not. That’s what they want to do, let them do it. They have the right to forbid anyone to broadcast whatever is going on during presentations at the conferences they organize. They are organizing it, they are paying for it (relatively speaking) and they spent time organizing it. Whenever you registered, if there are rules specifying what you should or shouldn’t do you have two options: either you register or not. It’s simple.

Oh, but the Nobel Prize Winner John Doe will be speaking there. Really? So you really want to go? Yes. Then register. But I cannot liveblog/tweet/friendcast/whatever, so I won’t have enough street cred when I discuss things online. So, don’t go. But you want to go? Yes. So follow the rules. But I don’t like the rules. Me neither, but they are rules.

Another aspect is the availability of wireless internet. If you don’t want people broadcasting the presentations, simply do not provide wireless internet. And be sure to confiscate blackberries at the door. The last big meeting that I attended was in the 2005 ISMB in Detroit, and I found, back then, very disrespectful to whoever was speaking that some people in the audience would surf, work and answer emails. Either you’re at the conference to follow the talks or you’re there to get air miles, a free trip or different cuisine (not the case of Detroit). You’re not there to work in a different environment. If you have things to work, stay outside the talks.

But you really want to liveblog/tweet/friendcast the presentation? How do you I know that you’re doing that or just answering an email? You don’t check emails during talks? Even if the talk is boooring? No. OK.

But the main point is we have to follow the rules that the organizer sets. We might like it or not. We can register or boycott the meeting. Yes, that’s a better idea boycott the meeting and do not give money to whoever sets rules you don’t like. Please, have principles. Don’t cave in because that researcher you love is going to present there, send him/her an email asking for a boycott of the meeting.