Eyes Above The Waves

Robert O'Callahan. Christian. Repatriate Kiwi. Hacker.

Sunday 29 January 2017

Tripling Down Against USA Conference Hosting

Well, that escalated quickly!

I wrote "Really, Please Stop Booking International Conferences In The USA" and then the very next day chaos erupted as Trump's executive order on the "seven Muslim countries" appeared and went into effect.

I'm less open-borders than a lot of the people currently freaking out --- but regardless, the order is cruel and capricious, especially how it shut out people with valid visas and even green cards without warning. And I think this reinforces my point about conferences: how can you book a conference with international attendees in a country where this happens?

Administration staff are already talking about other disturbing changes:

Miller also noted on Saturday that Trump administration officials are discussing the possibility of asking foreign visitors to disclose all websites and social media sites they visit, and to share the contacts in their cell phones. If the foreign visitor declines to share such information, he or she could be denied entry. Sources told CNN that the idea is just in the preliminary discussion level.

No thanks :-(.

It has been pointed out that Trump's EO might actually force some organizations to hold more conferences in the USA because some US residents may not be able to return home if they go abroad. That makes some sense but it feels wrong.

On another note, around now the top US universities start their annual drive to recruit foreign grad students. I wonder how that's going to go. The professoriat not being exactly Trump country, they'll have to reconcile their fears with a message that foreign students are going to be OK. Careers depend on it.


There's one small problem with this: By not hosting conferences in the USA, people who are now stranded (aka can't leave without being unable to return) in the US due to the immigration order will now be unable to attend. You are basically punishing some of the same people this bullshit executive order affects. I'm not saying hosting conferences in the US is a good idea, but it's not nearly that simple.
I did mention that. It partly comes down to what message you're going to send. Do you want to send a message that your conference privileges US residents over non-US residents? Do you want to send a message that obnoxious border policies make the USA a *more* desirable place to host your conference?
Simon Hibbs
People living in the US are now knowingly taking this risk. They are likely to have contacts and representation in the US that can fight for their rights. People not resident in the US do not and it's unfair to coerce them into this position. I'm not affected by this ban, but this is a US problem for the US to deal with.
Things are still shaking out(the wonders of vague wording an no preparation!) but it appears that people with permanent residency (green cards, etc) will in fact be allowed back in (though likely after expanded delay). For whatever that's worth.
I wonder if we'll start seeing conferences held in two places at once, both inside and outside the US, via the Internet. Or the rise of the use of the Internet to live stream or participate in conferences, the way we can (today) watch recordings and share results. Perhaps a whole new use for VR, in some dismal future...
I've seen this done before for standards group meetings (with the "outside the US" country being China). It was not a great experience.
Thank you for your comment Louis - and thank you to Robert for the original post - you inspired me to write this "4 ways that VR can now step up and help the world"! https://medium.com/samsung-internet-dev/4-ways-virtual-reality-can-now-step-up-and-help-the-world-bef9a3367e99