Welcome to wcsj 2023
If your opinion of what makes for a worthwhile meeting has changed radically over the past two years, you
are far from alone. COVID-19 imposed a sometimes rude but ultimately valuable crash course that taught us
to collaborate extensively and effectively without ever leaving our desks. You may have had your fill of on-line
meetings but for better or worse they have established themselves in our working lives. The result has forever
altered the way we approach any other kind of meeting, whether it is going across the street to have lunch with
a colleague or flying to another country for a major gathering. As for your favourite conferences, they will never
look the same again. Why invest your time and energy in travel when you can get so much business out of the
way quickly and easily with a Zoom call?
We began pondering this same question as we watched the pandemic upend our original plans for the next
World Conference of Science Journalists in Medellín, Colombia. When we were finally able to make our first
on-site inspection of the venue — a year-and-a-half later than intended — a useful answer finally appeared.
The intense personal interactions we had during this trip were a stark reminder that travel is still worthwhile,
but it has to be made worthwhile. Merely summoning everyone to neutral ground, which could be the nicest
hotel or conference centre, will no longer be enough to entice even the most Zoom-weary attendee. Successful
conferences will have to build on what made them worthwhile experiences in the first place: precious chance
encounters in a hallway, where special insights can be shared; first-hand views of a unique facility, which no
photograph or video can do justice to; or the complete assurance that you have someone’s attention as they
look at you.
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