Panel on virtual communication in mathematics

October 7th, 2021

Lorenzo Diaz (PUC-Rio) Slides
Svetlana Katok (Penn State University)
Bryna Kra (Northwestern University)
Carlos Matheus (CNRS)

What lessons did math community learn from over a year of online conferences and seminars, virtual collaboration? What is the impact on the community and, especially, junior mathematicians? What are the ideas for the future?

Organizers: Andrey Gogolev (Ohio State), Jana Rodriguez Hertz (SUSTech)

>Steven Hurder: These are all good points on the slide by Lorenzo!
>Dmitri Yu Burago: This week, Boris Bukh delivered a ZOOM talk with an absolute illusion of physical presence. Blackboard style. He sent me all details about the equipment he used, I am ordering this today. For the seminar, I managed to invite plenty of great people who otherwise would unlikely come. I see only advantages. The same as with teaching, though I think office hours and exams better be the “old–fashioned” way. As for collaboration, my personal experience is that face–to–face work is much more productive. For a number of reasons. If there is interest, would ellaborate on this.
>Boris Hasselblatt: JMM 2022 is in person. ICM as well. AMS-EMS-SMF Grenoble Summer 2022 TBD.
>Dmitri Yu Burago: Svetlana, on the other hand, there are recordings of talks and people “attend” when this is convenient for them. As for collaboration, as I said, I totslly agree, in–person is better. I think we should not be biased and lean towards one strategy, better be flexible and combine both modes.
>Olga Lukina: This summer there was a number of hybrid conferences in Europe with international participants in person. I attended one in Bedlewo myself (from Austria).
>Bryna Kra:
>Olga Lukina: I attended most of the Expanding Dynamics meetings that Bryna described. That was the best format for an online event I’ve encountered. The breakout rooms (both randomized and for questions after the talks) really worked!
>Bryna Kra: Thanks Olga!
>Steven Hurder: Gathertown never really worked. IMHO. The format in the seminars Bryna described did work, but had its limits.
>Boris Hasselblatt: Any information on how much any recordings were actually viewed? (I suspect that people might intend to view them but do not.)
>Dmitri Yu Burago: From my experience, many recordings are viewed later. This can be easily checked. On a few occasions, something went wrong with publishing the recordings, and I would receive a bunch of emails asking for the recordings.
>Marisa Cantarino: Online events may give us a kind of guilt, a fear of missing out. That did not happen at in person events, because now we are under the illusion that we could take part in everything. Besides, participating online is not the same, at least as a phd student, I rarely feel comfortable to interact.
>Krystyna Kuperberg: I feel that the idea of shorter talks is good, but I also liked the longer 50 min talks at a larger conference. I could log on two semi-plenary talks at the same time instead of picking just one, which is a common problem at large meetings. It is important that the long lectures are accessible to a larger audience, but informative.
>Jim Fowler: Yes!
>Jim Fowler: AIM's format is nice.
>Jim Fowler: For weeklong events.
>Steven Hurder: Does that mean the AMS sectional meetings are toast?
>Dmitri Yu Burago: I think it is a good idea to encourage people to ask questions, I ask a lot, I do not conisder this being rude, perhaps it rather helps to keep attention.
>Boris Hasselblatt: This is tangential to the purpose of this webinar, but we must also educate university administrations about the value of supporting faculty participation in meetings that are being run in-person (only). Many universities have cut or never had travel support, and this does not help mathematicians or the diversity of meeting participation.
>Bryna Kra: I agree Boris!
>Doug Lind: What was the origin of this panel, and how many people are listening?
>Svetlana Katok: 22 attendees now, I think it was 39 at some point.
>Jana Rodriguez Hertz: 30 participants, including the ones on screen
>James A. Yorke: When large in person meetings resume, would you recommend proof of vaccination for attendees?
>Steven Hurder: What is the url for the seminars page?
>Jim Fowler:
Svetlana Katok: I guess this depends on the institution where the meeting takes place.
>Boris Hasselblatt: @Jim Yorke: Yes! Doing otherwise would discriminate against (say) those who are immunocompromised or have family members who are.
>Jim Fowler: Thinking of short talks as a trailer or a 'video abstracts' makes me wish there were links from the arxiv back to YouTube or the like.