April 29, 2006
THE LIMITS OF TECHNOLOGY: In light of my video appearance at the Harvard blog conference yesterday, some people are asking if I think that videoconferencing will replace in-the-flesh presentations at academic conferences. In a word, no.
I very much appreciate the conference organizers letting me do it that way, because I just couldn’t make the trip. But for me — and, I suspect, for the people at the other end — it was a distinct second-best. The fun of conferences is meeting people and schmoozing, and I missed out on that. And my delivery was probably off: I like to get direct feedback by watching the audience, and though there was a two-way camera hookup, the camera was facing the stage, meaning that I got to see a somewhat unnerving image of me as a Big Giant Head (delayed by about a second due to two-way Internet latency) instead of the audience. It was nice that I could do it that way, and it was an interesting experience, but it was no substitute for being there.
UPDATE: On the other hand, I was spared this.