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Posts Tagged ‘online conferencing’

"carrier pigeons" with messages attached. Harper's New Monthly Magazine, No. 275, April, 1873. via Wikimedia Commons

Thankfully, messaging technology is now far more advanced than this.

Recently I had the pleasure to participate in an online argumentation colloquium. We used Skype for the actual video interaction and Dropbox to share files before, during, and after the event. Frank Zenker (also an author here) was the driving force behind the project. Jean Goodwin, Bart Verheij, Frank, and myself all did presentations or read papers which we then discussed. It is safe to say that all participants unanimously regarded the event as a success.  You can read Frank’s excellent summary of the experience and what we learned by doing it in Informal Logic here or by downloading the pdf (containing screen-shots of the event) from his website here.

As those with a scholarly interest in argumentation know, our peers and friends in this field are scattered across the entire planet. Other areas of research can say the same thing of course, but in many cases the number of folks working in those areas is such that getting together doesn’t necessarily require extensive international travel.  Often, unless a scholar in argumentation studies has the good fortune to be located near a university-sponsored institute or grad program like the ones at the University of Windsor, UVA or Lugano, one has to wait until a conference to see one’s colleagues and have the chance to discuss works in progress.  Put that together with the increasing financial constraints most of us find ourselves under, with the environmental impacts of all those plane, train, and taxi rides, and with the increasing quality, availability, and ease of use of the requisite software, and the idea of online collaboration of the sort we tried starts to make more and more sense.

It seems clear that online colloquia couldn’t take the place of large scale gatherings like ISSA, OSSA, the RSA or ArgMAS. Still, they’re a great way to stay in contact and work collaboratively to move our research programs forward.  At least, that’s what we think.  What do you think? Would you be open to participating in or hosting events of this kind? Perhaps you’ve already tried this sort of thing. If so, how did it go for you?

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