FEW

23 05 2005

I’m heading off to the second annual Formal Epistemology Workshop tomorrow, so I probably won’t be posting here for a week. (I’m not coming back from Austin until the 31st.) Last year I commented on a paper by Brian Weatherson – this year I’ll be presenting my own paper! Fortunately, I’m up first on the line-up, so I can relax and meet people for the rest of the week. Looks like some other logic-bloggers will be there too, and I’m looking forward to meeting them in person!

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8 responses

23 05 2005
The Cardinal Collective

FEW

I’m off for a week for a conference in Austin. Should be exciting, given that it’s both the first time I’m presenting a paper at a conference, and also my first time in Texas outside an airport. So probably nothing…

24 05 2005
Jon

Sorry for my ignorance, but what’s the deal with the “commentator” listed for some of the talks? To me it sounds like someone will be sitting there saying things like “Kenny has gone for the slide striptease trick, not sure how this will go down with the crowd” (you can probably guess how many philosophy talks I have been to…).

25 05 2005
Richard Zach

Philosophy talks are commonly followed by “comments” where someone who gets to read your paper ahead of time (“the commentator”) gives a short talk on why and how your paper was all wrong. Makes for a fun discussion period. But it would be even more fun if we did comments your way, I think!

26 05 2005
Peter McB.

In computer industry conferences, it is now standard for wifi to be provided inside the auditorium. This has allowed bloggers in the audience to provide real-time commentary on the talks as they are given, of exactly the sort you mention, Jon. Some conference organizers even provide a dedicated website for these comments AND display the web-site to the audience on a large screen beside the speaker.

I think this is immensely disrespectful to the speaker.

30 05 2005
Kenny

We actually did have wifi in the conference room, which mainly allowed me to check my e-mail in the few minutes between talks rather than sacrificing sleep or socializing. But one of the presenters (Richard Scheines, from CMU) had us check out the materials for an online course he was discussing. It sounds like Branden and Sahotra are planning on putting up audience comments on the talks on the website, but with e-mail delay and being posted by the organizers, I’m pretty sure these will be productive additions to the discussion, rather than what you describe Peter.

31 05 2005
Peter McB.

Kenny —

What is the protocol among philosophers regarding conference commentary?

I was once asked to comment on a paper at a philosophy conference where I was also presenting a paper. The speaker I was commenting on sent me his paper about 2 weeks in advance, so I thought it only polite to send him my commentary. I did this about 1 week before the conference, unfortunately long enough time for him to revise his paper and to send me his revised version. Despite it being 2 days before the event, I had no option but to revise my commentary, and again felt compelled to send it to him. To my annoyance, he revised his paper again, and sent this to me the night before the conference. I had no choice again but to revise my comments, but decided not to send him the second revised version. He seemed surprised when I presented my commentary, as it differed from the most recent version he had seen. But I was annoyed at his text revising, since each version attempted to pre-empt my comments.

Is this normal in Philosophy? It would not normally happen in Computer Science, not only because we don’t have commentators, but because most of our conferences require the full paper to be submitted well in advance of the conference. (Papers in CS are normally refereed before the conference.)

1 06 2005
Kenny

There definitely seems to be a common practice of ironing out as many disagreements between speaker and commentator ahead of time as possible. Of course, the commentator will normally still have points to dispute with the speaker, but they won’t catch the speaker by surprise, hopefully. (I think I might have been bad about this last year for Brian Weatherson.) And a lot of the time comments focus on things like putting remarks in context, rephrasing arguments from the paper, and showing how the results might apply in other areas.

I think it’s not common for people to pre-empt the commentary in their own paper unless the points are omissions that should be corrected in a good paper. Smaller things are normally just left for the commentator to bring up.

1 06 2005
Peter McB.

Thanks, Kenny.

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