This will certainly be the first time that I will speak in public in my pyjamas. I’m participating in a conference this weekend hosted by the World Institute for Research and Publication (WIRP) where I’m presenting a couple papers.
It’s not that all my suits are at the dry cleaner, but because the conference is being hosted online. The first time this was done was apparently by CONVIBRA in Brazil. Since 2004, WIRP has been hosting conferences on Finance, Accounting, Marketing, Business Administration, Education, and Law, primarily using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP).
This year they’re trying something different, with slides and pre-recorded synchronised audio, not dissimilar from what I do on SlideShare. The presentation is supplemented by forums and chat rooms where participants can interact with the “speakers” and pose questions. What differentiates it from self-serve sites like SlideShare is that they maintain a peer-review process, and the ability to discuss the papers with others in the field.
One of the major advantages is reduced travel and accommodation expense, and the ability to continue work responsibilities with minimal disruption. The program this year has attracted speakers from institutions worldwide, including Columbia University, University of New South Wales, University of Extremadura, London School of Economics and Political Science, Universidad de Zaragoza, Universidad Externado de Columbia, Stanford University, Law School of Renmin University of China, John Marshall Law School, Harvard Law School, and the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.
Other Canadians involved are Daniel Simard, an Osgoode/York student presented an abbreviated version of his M.E.S. thesis in conjunction with me, and Antonin Pribetic, aka The Trial Warrior, of Steinberg Morton Hope & Israel LLP.
The project is an interesting idea, and one that will likely become increasingly popular as flight prices skyrocket. It might be a good option for other conferences generally to supplement their program and attract greater international involvement, especially from the developing world.
But the best part is that speakers don’t have to pretend their audience is naked to get over their fear of public speaking. In all likelihood, that assumption is probably just as correct for the speaker as it is for any of the participants.