There's Always the Bus

Travel limits, as a move to save the US government money, may affect the exchange of scientific ideas at conferences.

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Well maybe. Except a typical

Well maybe. Except a typical scenario is that the majority of the presentations of note at the meetings are given by a consistent cadre of muckety mucks who give virtually the same talk from 4 to 20 times per year, at CSH, Keystone, Gordon Conf, the major society meetings, the Tri-Cons and big CHI meetings, etc., with favored post-docts and perma-docs accorded the privilege of making the same presentation at lesser society meetings, CHI's etc. The Scientific Value/Cost ratio of all this extreme junketing is probably not all that high.

How about video conferences for most of it from now on? Net meeting/Goto meeting, etc. For the value of the scientific exchange they are probably better than lecture hall presentations and they are all designed to support high levels of real time interaction. And a whole lot cheaper. Course you still need the elbow to elbow schmoozing among the major muckety mucks for some alcohol lubricated idea sharing, as well as for sharing perfunctory judgments about other people's work and promise. There can still be plenty of that if even 90% of the meetings are cancelled and the moneys productively redeployed.