Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mulling over the ICC

Well, I guess I owe you a report on the ICC, and that's pretty much how I feel about it.  If you've never been before, ICC is an exhausting conference.  It's a four-day affair (five if you count the opening session on Sunday night), but each day has only four talks plus an evening plenary.  Each talk lasts one hour and forty-five minutes.  There are three tracks of talks going on simultaneously, but the tracks are not thematic.  There's just track A, B, and C, not a geology track or a biology track.  The speakers all get one hour to speak, then the microphone is opened to the crowd to ask questions for forty-five minutes.

On Monday, my morning was entirely consumed with Core Academy talks.  I spoke on mitochondrial DNA at 8:00, and that was my best attended lecture of the entire conference.  Roger Sanders spoke on flower kinds at 10 am, and then it was time for lunch.  At 1:15 it was me again on Avialae (since neither of my co-authors could make it), and then I attended E.H. Chia's talk on "The Biocentric Design Model," which was delivered remotely from Singapore.

On Tuesday, I started the day at Larry Vardiman's swan song presentation on his post-Flood climate modeling, and then at 10:00, I attended Joe Francis's talk, since I was a co-author.  In the afternoon, I rounded up some friends and we went to the Carnegie Museum.

On Wednesday, I started out in Gene Chaffin's double-beta-decay talk, which I didn't understand, and then I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Gollmer's presentation of the post-Flood climate modeling that he's doing.  In the afternoon, I presented my review paper.

On Thursday morning, I caught Richard Overman's paper on excess argon and David Shormann's Novarupta-Katmai presentation.  In the afternoon, I delivered my final presentation on Australopithecus sediba, which was sparsely attended.

So besides my own talks, I saw seven presentations.  For me, the outstanding highlight was Steve Gollmer's work on climate modeling, and Roger's work on angiosperms would be a close second.  It was also great to get together with friends and colleagues again.

For the next ICC, I have some suggestions.  Please take them as my sincere and humble desire to help improve the conference.

1.  Please, please, please shorten the sessions.  Talking for an hour and then answering questions for 45 minutes is really draining.  If you cut the sessions to 45 minute presentations with 15 minute Q&A, you could program seven talks in a single day (8:30, 9:40, 10:50, 1:00, 2:10, 3:20, 4:30), which means that this entire conference could have been compressed to two days instead of four.  That would make the whole thing much more affordable for everyone (half the hotel, half the food, etc.).

2.  I think a lot of people would prefer to have a hardcopy of the papers.  With modern print on demand publishing options, you could easily get a small run of printed, softcover proceedings to make available to those who wanted them, including libraries.

Feedback? Email me at toddcharleswood [at] gmail [dot] com.