Science and technology conferences are engines of innovation—essential to the incubation of new ideas, the dissemination of research, and the spawning of new technologies. But this year, with no warning, conferences around the globe are finding themselves in uncharted waters as the global COVID-19 pandemic makes physical meetings impossible. To help organisers cope, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has issued a new report, ‘Virtual Conferences: A Guide to Best Practices,’ on how to replace face-to-face conferences with virtual ones during the pandemic.
The report is the output of a task force convened by ACM President Cherri M. Pancake to help ACM conference organisers navigate the virtual conference landscape. Composed of heavy users of online technologies, and of researchers responsible for developing them, the ACM community is well positioned to offer advice to other groups dealing with the same problems.
The ‘Virtual Conferences’ report, linked from the website as a PDF document, provides concrete advice for events of all sizes. It is a practical guide that covers a wide array of topics that organisers face, including needed technology, high-level planning, accessibility, fostering social interaction, navigation and finances.
Because this is a rapidly evolving topic, the report has been designed as a living document that the task force will periodically update and revise. Conference organisers are encouraged to share their own experiences, make comments or ask questions.
The ACM Presidential Task Force on What Conferences Can Do to Replace Face-to-Face Meetings is led by Co-chairs Crista Videira Lopes (University of California, Irvine) and Jeanna Matthews (Clarkson University) and Executive Editor Benjamin Pierce (University of Pennsylvania). Task force members are Francois Guimbretiere (Cornell University), Srinivasan Keshav (University of Cambridge, UK), Rob Lindeman (University of Canterbury, New Zealand), Blair MacIntyre (Georgia Tech), and Gary Olson (University of California, Irvine).
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