[Coral-List] Reflections on ICRS 11

Michael Risk riskmj at univmail.cis.mcmaster.ca
Sun Aug 3 08:44:38 EDT 2008

Hi Phil.

Your post brings home to me my keen disappointment that I did not
attend the meeting. Just thinking what I missed...fine dining at Jojo's
Italian Restaurant, gracious living at the Sleep Inn, old talks that
went overtime...

For most of my career I balanced on that thin and ragged line that
separates geology from biology. I attended both types of meetings. Your
audience may not like to hear this, but for about a generation,
geologists have been giving better talks at meetings that are more
tightly run.

The reasons are, I think, pretty evident: money. Biology talks are
given to others of the faithful: geology talks are often given to
influence exploration decisions. If one is trying to persuade a company
to invest $10 million in a drilling program, the message needs to be
succinct and effective.

This attitude carries over into their meetings. I don't know what the
policy is now, but years ago, if you wanted to present at the AAPG
(Amer Assoc Petroleum Geol.) meeting, you sent your slides into a Slide
Committee well in advance. They might well send your slides back
telling you to redo some, omit others. Our Department for years gave a
short course on how to present at a meeting, how to make slides:
beginning with the cardinal rule, one idea per slide. etc.

Session chairs were chosen, not only on their stature as scientists,
but on their presumed ability to pull the plug on the long-winded.
Chairs had control over power to the lights and the slide projector.

So, this has been fun. But we both know nothing will change.


On Fri, 01 Aug 2008 22:07:27 -0400
 Phil Dustan <dustanp at cofc.edu> wrote:
> Dear Colleagues,
> I’m sure you’ll all join in thanking all the people that worked so
> hard 
> to make the ICRS 11 a success.  It was a wonderful opportunity to
> meet, 
> hear, discuss, and share ideas with new and old colleagues alike;
> well 
> worth the expense and time of traveling to Fort Lauderdale.  I think
> we 
> can all agree that the meeting was HUGE and it took superhuman
> efforts 
> to make it work as smoothly as it did.  Congrats to Dick Dodge and
> the ICRS.
> That said, I’d like to offer the following observations and thoughts
> in 
> an effort to improve ICRS 12:
> 1. Too many of the talks I attended went over their allotted time, 
> leaving no time for discussion.
> 2. Too many of the talks I attended were full of information that had
> already been published.  An extreme example of this was a very senior
> researcher who must have shown at least 30 slides, each with a bold 
> citation across the bottom.  His talk also ran over by a wide margin.
> Who gave him the license to waste my time?
> 3.  Too many presentation slides offered far too much information to
> absorb.
> 4. Too many presentations had not bothered to check the pre-internet
> era 
> literature, or even basic reference texts such as the Treatise on 
> Invertebrate Paleontology.  The older literature is still full of
> good 
> science.
> 5. It has always been my idea that meetings are occasions to share
> new 
> information, not overwhelm the audience, impress the funding
> agencies, 
> badger us with old facts, reinvented wheels, or pronounce your own 
> revision of history.  Save this kind of stuff for gossip during
> breaks, 
> dinner, or drinks.
> As we begin planning for the next symposium, now less than 4 years
> away, 
> perhaps the next organizing committee could consider some changes
> such as:
> Perhaps each talk could be limited to no more than 10 slides with 7 
> minutes for presentation time and 8-10 minutes for questions.
> Additionally, and I think extremely important, presentations should
> show 
> only new, unpublished research, not stuff that’s already in the
> literature.
> -- 
> Phillip Dustan
> Department of Biology
> College of Charleston
> Charleston SC 29424
> (843) 953-8086
> (843) 953-5453
> _______________________________________________
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> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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Mike Risk
Marine Ecologist
PO Box 1195
Durham Ontario
N0G 1R0

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