Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Virtual March Meeting

In the wake of the cancellation of the 2020 APS March Meeting due to concerns about COVID-19, an effort has sprung up, the Virtual March Meeting, with the idea of having would-be speakers record and upload their presentations.   (I believe that this was spearheaded by q-ctrl, but I'm not certain.  If someone knowledgeable about this would like to explain in the comments, that would be very helpful.)

In general, this is a great idea.  There were a number of talks, particularly some invited sessions, that I was very much hoping to see at the meeting, and if this is a way of providing access to at least some of that content, I'm all in favor.

There are some downsides.  No interactive Q&A.  Some people are willing to be speculative and show a couple of in-progress/not-yet-submitted slides in their talks, but they are unlikely to want their pre-publication ideas out there on the internet forever.  It seems unlikely that there will be large-scale participation, particularly by the generally busy folks who are giving the longer invited talks and prize talks.  Still, some effort to accommodate limited travel is better than nothing.

I've attempted to upload my own contributed talk, though it doesn't seem to have materialized yet on their siteHere it is.  If you really want to get the March Meeting experience, you should watch this from the back of a small, uncomfortably crowded room with dodgy air temperature and unreliable audio.  Also, you should pretend that the session chair stands up and starts glowering at me on slide 18.   (This is in the spirit of a comment made by a friend who once said that he couldn't make it to Princeton reunions, so instead he was going to simulate the experience by pouring beer and mud in his shoes and squishing around in the humidity.)


Pizza Perusing Physicist said...

This is a great idea. I think it should become a permanent fixture of the meeting in the future - perhaps the one silver lining of this whole fiasco is that it has opened our eyes to this great idea.

xykademiqz said...

The writers' equivalent of the March Meeting -- the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference or just AWP for short -- is being held this week. It was not cancelled, but much drama about it ensued (including the AWP co-director resigning), and the attendance is low as many people balked. There's a humorous take in McSweeney's Internet Tendency on simulating the AWP experience if you weren't able to go; I think it works well for physicists and the APS March Meeting!


Unknown said...

Hi Doug - Mike from Q-CTRL.

We agree that this is only a low-fidelity reproduction of the entire March Meeting experience. But in our view it's an essential start. The site, thanks to our generous partners at Google, also allows live webinars and talk recording.

In the future we hope to fully integrate these features to provide a seamless experience - this was clearly a stopgap assembled over the last ~60h.

We'll fix any broken submissions, apologies that yours seemed to have not appeared. Thanks for using the site.

Unknown said...

PS. Your talk is available here:

In the session:

Douglas Natelson said...

Thanks, Mike. I had meant to come back and update the post with the link. Like I said, I think this is a great idea. I do think people are going to be more conservative in what they put in talks, though, if those slides/videos are going to live forever. I'd be curious to know how much storage and processing it would take to do the whole meeting program.