Remote talks and reopening
On May 18 CERN has initiated a gradual restart of operations. There are many weeks before I will be able to resume working normally. However today I had a chance to go back to my office for the first time after three months of teleworking.
I am very privileged with my lockdown arrangements and I have no complains. I was able to work successfully and productively from home. However my 4G internet hotspot is not always reliable and I was invited to give an on-line seminar for which I wanted to avoid any technical issues. Permission granted, site accessed and the talk successfully done. And just enough time to enjoy the view of Jura mountains!
I quite liked the experience of giving a talk on-line and I was able to enrich my presentation with technological tricks, e.g. writing on the slides during the talk. However, not seeing the audience (not everybody had their videos on) is clear downside, especially during the question session. At the same time I am participating in a remote TH institute and I was following the presentations and discussions from home. One of the consequences of all talks and conferences done remotely is that there are no barriers (at least in terms of travel expenses) to participate in them. Although the time-zone difference remains a real problem for an international tele-conference! Actually, I enjoy remote talks better than lives ones. First, everybody can have the “front seat” and I feel much more comfortable at my desk than sitting in an auditorium. Second, I can always have a break from attending the workshop and do something else. However, I think we still need to find the best way to organize on-line discussions and small interactions.
Many institutions have also opened up their seminars to scientists from around the world. This led to several initiatives to collect and advertise such opportunities. One of the latest is by the Inspire team (searchable high energy physics information database), who announced a new seminars category. The new category allows to search, advertise and potentially even cite talks like you would do with papers. I think this is perhaps one of a few positive ways the research will be impacted by the lockdown measures.