1. Ganesh Natrajan said:

    The reason why most conferences are cesspools of boredom has a lot to do with political issues. Organizers have to think of more than just the tone and content of the conference. Issues like who is invited (or not) to give a plenary lecture, who is invited (or not) to chair a session, who is made to speak when, for how long and before or after whom, are all extremely important. Given the monumental egos involved, a mistake in any of the aforesaid can cost an organizer his/her next grant award or have his/her next paper rejected. Conference organizers therefore, have to tread carefully and keep everyone happy. This inevitably, takes a toll of the quality of the conference, as everyone of importance is invited and allowed to speak, whether they have anything interesting to say or not. The worst sufferers are the junior attendees like grad students and post docs, who have to sit through lengthy sessions full of boring speakers. So how can attending a conference be made worthwhile? The thing to do with conferences is to use them what they are really useful for – Networking. Conferences are great places to make lasting friends and given that all of the attendees are working in related areas, such friendships can be useful in job searches and future collaborations.

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