Organizing Virtual Conferences through Mirrors: The ACM e-Energy 2020 Experience

08/19/2020 ∙ by Dan Wang, et al. ∙ 0

The emergence of the world-wide COVID-19 pandemic has forced academic conferences to be held entirely in a virtual manner. While prior studies have advocated the merits of virtual conferences in terms of energy and cost savings, organizers are increasingly facing the prospect of planning and executing them systematically, in order to deliver a rich conference-attending-experience for all participants. Starting from March 2020, tens of conferences have been held virtually. Past conferences have revealed numerous challenges, from budget planning, to selecting the supporting virtual platforms. Among these, two special challenges were identified: 1) how to deliver talks to geo-distributed attendees and 2) how to stimulate social interactions among attendees. These are the two important goals of an academic conference. In this paper, we advocate a mirror program approach for academic conferences. More specifically, the conference program is executed in multiple parallel (mirrored) programs, so that each mirror program can fit a different time zone. This can effectively address the first challenge.

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