Reflections and thoughts on my first ICT4S conference
/You read about our adventures on the journey to (and from) the ICT4S (ICT for Sustainability) conference, and here’s all about our adventures at the conference itself./
ICT4S 2022 began on Monday, June 13 and lasted the whole week until Friday , June 17m, with the main paper, poster and demo sessions being held from Tuesday to Thursday and the doctoral symposium and workshops being held on Monday and Friday.
Now this being the first conference I was attending in-person, I honestly had no idea what to expect. It was not like I knew a lot of people attending the conference either. Apart from my SFLab colleagues, I knew just a handful of other people who were attending the conference.
The overall impression that I got from the conference is that it is bit more focused on the software sustainability and sustainability IN software. But this could be because the vast majority of the people involved in the conference, work within that domain. But they (and the conference) are also very much open to hearing ideas and concepts from other ICT related sustainability domains. So it is very much possible that the focus of the conference could shift, as more people from inter disciplinary fields become involved.
Compared to other conferences, ICT4S might be a much smaller conference but I’m not sure if this was due to fewer people preferring to attend in-person. But, the smaller numbers make for much more interesting conversations and networking.
By the end of the conference, I had a feeling that I had interacted with almost everyone who had attended the conference in-person.
The paper and poster sessions were staggered. Because multiple paper sessions were at the same time, each paper session was held twice so that people would be able to attend the ones that could not, the first time. The sessions were held either as hybrid or a physical session. Each paper session consisted of a 10 min presentation of the paper by the author, followed by a quick 1-2 min session for the audience to ask clarification questions. At the end of the presentations, a reverse panel discussion was held wherein the audience discussed questions that the authors posed to them. In order to avoid technical issues and complications, the online participants only interacted with other online participants while the on-premise participants discussed with each other.
While I understand the rationale behind the decision, it did mean that I missed out on interacting with a fairly significant portion of the conference participants. The conference provides yet another case that hybrid meetings, presentations and conferences are still in their nascent stages. Hopefully, over time these issues will get ironed out.
The keynote with Prof. Ayona Datta is an example of the interdisciplinary focus and the willingness of the conference to engage with experts outside the field of just software sustainability. Ayona’s research interests lie “in the politics of urban transformations in the global south, with a particular focus on the intersectionality of gender and citizenship” and she discussed discussed a feminist toolkit as a pathway to digital justice in the urban margins at the keynote.
Lunch was always at a nearby hotel and dinners were held at different places. The Welcome Reception on Tuesday was held at the Philippopolis Art Center, a lovely museum in the heart of Plovdiv showcasing both contemporary and heritage Bulgarian artists.
Dinner on Wednesday was at the Grand Hotel followed by entertainment showcasing Bulgarian culture.
All in all, the conference is a continually evolving venue. As more inter-disciplinary experts become involved with it, the direction it can take in terms of its focus, can shift dramatically. Personally, it was a wonderful experience for me (travel included :))and I hope to return next year for ICT4S 2023 in Rennes (hopefully with an accepted paper and yet more thrilling tales of travel).