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When you consider the existing tools for learning a new skill, don’t be surprised if it leaves you both intimidated and confused. Which one should you choose? Which one better suits your needs and learning style? Which will offer greater insights and enable you to move forward in your career? Thanks to an information overload, the amount of stuff we can effectively filter and retain is decreasing – and fast. Take, for example, this Huffington Post article that details how technology is causing our short-term memory to degenerate, and millennials are most at risk.
The web conference
With this in mind, what are our options? We’ve moved from classes to tutorials, from paperbacks to ebooks and audiobooks, from conferences to webinars and online conferences. When we talk about physical conferences, it always comes back to the same benefits: networking opportunities, investment in yourself, sharpening new tools and many more. Takeflyte lays out 12 of the most beneficial outcomes you can gain from a conference. But do we receive the same benefits from online conferences? Some would argue yes. According to About Tech, online conferences save time and money, offer hiring opportunities regardless of location, have no timeframe constraints, and are good for client relationships.
Having spoken at an online conference by With The Best, of which I am a digital product manager and which specialises in events for developers, research scientist Ian Goodfellow from OpenAI expressed his experience as overwhelmingly positive: “As a researcher, I’m excited about the potential of technology to transform society, but most research-related institutions don’t actually make much use of technology. Most conferences are still held only in person and require everyone who attends to buy expensive plane tickets and release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere.
“I like that AI With the Best uses the internet to bring everyone together, so there are fewer barriers to attendance and a truly global audience,” says Goodfellow.
If you’re concerned topics for online conferences are limited, think again. From all branches of science to more personal ones, the market is beginning to cover most fields. Doing a quick search to see what online conferences are out there, some of the more common themes are entwined with tech, but this is not surprising, seeing as the tech industry is fast developing and evolving.
Gender diversity among panels have generated a lot of talk recently, with women grossly under-represented (sometimes not at all), and parity rarely achieved, even in fields where women make up a high portion of that industry. A website called BiasWatchNeuro posts gender ratios among conference speakers, in various areas of neuroscience. Perhaps online conferences can seek to address this although not always an easy task. With this in mind, AI With The Best was able to secure a 37% representation for women. Not quite parity, but it’s a start.
By Amalia Alexandru