Saturday, December 06, 2008

Compare and contrast

Geekman has just been away at his centre's big annual conference. Let's compare these conferences with OUR big annual conference, mkay? (For the sake of fairness, I'll compare the situation for full time ongoing faculty in our department with the same in his.)

Locations of our big conference the last three years:
2008: Sydney (inner city)
2007: Adelaide (inner city)
2006: Melbourne (inner city)

Locations of his big conference the last three years (actual town names left off, in case of identifiability):
2008: Luxury Australian beach town; famous Australian wine region
2007: Famous New Zealand adventure/skiing resort; famous NZ tourist centre
2006: Famous Australian beach resort region.

Yes, his conferences tend to be multi-location. I.e. it's the same people and topics, they just move location halfway through in order to get to spend time in more exciting places.

Amount of funding/expenses covered

Our department: each faculty member is generously given $200 per year to spend on a conference of their choice! (It might just about cover a registration fee.) Accommodation, transport, meals, other expenses are all covered out of one's own pocket.

Geekman's centre: everything is fully covered. Accommodation, transport, some food, registration, is all paid by the centre. Even for grad students. (As a comparison, one of the grad students in our department was recently INVITED to give a talk at a prestigious conference in the USA, but the dept still won't give her any money towards her expenses.)

Conference amenities

Our conferences:
  • Discounted internet access (e.g. only $20 a week instead of by the hour).
  • Some free canapes and wine at book launches, of which there is usually one or two per conference.
  • If you are young enough, you can probably buy coffee and food on campus at the discounted student price, if they forget to check ID.
  • Sometimes there's an official conference welcome session with a little food, but it's always run out before I fight my way to the front of the queue.
  • Our conference dinners usually cost $40-$60 a head, excluding drinks.

Geekman's conferences:
  • Free coffee and wireless internet from an espresso bar during the day.
  • Free canapes and wine every evening at poster sessions.
  • The conference dinner is paid for by the centre.
  • Sometimes free lunch is included.

And of course the thing that rankles most:

The conference bags

Here's what they gave out at Geekman's conference this year:

Admire, if the photo doesn't obscure it too much, the heavy canvas, the strong zips, the stylish design.

And here's mine:

Yes, it does indeed resemble one of those $1 canvas shopping bags. But it's not quite. No, this is MORE FLIMSY than the shopping bags I use. If you hold it up to the light, it's actually see-through. However, mine contained a PEN. I don't think the physicists got pens. DID YOU, physicists? No. Hah.

Awesome. N'est-ce pas?


Weekend_Viking said...

At least you have the cool geology conference pack I left the last time I was through. It even had a picture of a rockhammer on it. (although I'm not certain on the strength of the zip

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

Clearly, I'm in the wrong field -- no wonder analytical philosophers have physics envy... they get cool bags!

Bardiac said...

You guys get bags?

Gee, I've never gotten any swag at a conference. :(

geekman said...

We did get pens. Stylish silver ones,even. Sorry :-P

liz said...

You need to get computer people to figure out a way to market software based on your topic. Or figure out how large defense contractors can market multi-billion contracts based on your topic. Then you will get the cool bags, the free food (and wifi), and the nice locales.

Mosilager said...

we get all the cool geekman stuff at conferences too... i agree with liz, figure out how your field can sort out HIV or help the armed forces somehow... that's the key to money these days.