Can’t attend ISMB 2009? The next best thing.

One of the biggest scientific conferences each year is Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB), put on by the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB). I had the pleasure of attending the conference in Toronto last year, meeting many familiar names in person and collaborating with a number of them to microblog the sessions. That latter activity was so successful that it caught the eyes of the conference organizers, and we were able to publish a paper in PLoS Computational Biology summarizing the conference.

Even better, the ISCB is embracing microblogging from the outset this year at its ISMB meeting in Stockholm, which is starting this weekend and will run until July 2. They will be auto-generating threads for each talk in the FriendFeed room for live coverage and open commentary and are advertising that fact prominently on the website for those interested in blogging the event. Their actions are in stark contrast to those of Cold Spring Harbor, who recently updated their policies to require bloggers and twitterers to register with CSH beforehand and get advance permission from each presenter they plan on covering.

Now that blogging, microblogging, and even twittering is becoming more commonplace, it behooves conference organizers to have an official policy. Even one that is restrictive is better than no policy, which can result in an awkward backlash when people on both sides are caught unawares. Clearly there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but for conferences that do not deal with sensitive material, an open and even actively encouraging stance such as the ISCB’s is certainly liberating for those of us who are drawn to these kinds of activities.

So if you can’t attend ISMB this year for whatever reason, you (and I) are in luck. They’re freely providing the next best thing – live microblogging and a searchable archive of posts (through FriendFeed). Even if you’ll be physically attending, your experience will be arguably better if you follow the FriendFeed room. Because there’s only one of you, but there are also many others like you.

So check it out, whether you’re there or not, and if you’re there, contribute a post or two! If you’re not there, you can still participate by commenting and asking questions. That’s the beauty of it – the benefits go both ways!


2 Responses to Can’t attend ISMB 2009? The next best thing.

  1. Pingback: Science in the open » Conferences as Spam? Liveblogging science hits the mainstream

  2. Pingback: CameronNeylon.Net » Blog Archive » Conferences as Spam? Liveblogging science hits the mainstream

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