End of Conference Feedback

As always I am interested to hear people’s thoughts on the conference. What did you like, what didn’t you like? Did people use the podcasts? Last year I tried threaded discussions and this year went back to linear discussion that seems to be better, right?

Things are already moving for CO4 in 2012. One thing that I will be trying to do is to bring some kind of synchronous online sessions to the conference. I do not want to eliminate the asynchronous comment-at-your-own-pace element but rather to supplement it with live face-to-face presentations and discussion with the help of Bernard Baars, who will also be giving a keynote talk. This year I also had a special session organized by Jake Berger and I am interested in expanding this kind of thing. The ASSC usually has a call for submitted thematic symposia and I am wondering if this might be something worth doing here?

Also, since Youtube has let me upload videos without length restrictions I have uploaded the keynote talks from previous years at my ConsciousnessOnline channel (there are also some talks of mine and some videos of the New York Consciousness Collective).

Finally, Consciousness Online will host a series of lectures on the science and philosophy of consciousness beginning with introductory lectures given by Dr. Baars and eventually inviting speakers. The videos will be available to download or to watch streaming, though we will not open discussion on them (or if we do perhaps it will be without the commitment of the speaker to participate). So look out for that!

In general I am very interested in ways of improving the online conference as well as experimenting and expanding, so please any feedback is welcome! Richard



  1. I’ve found the conference useful and substantive though I was unable to devote sufficient time to address all the papers. Two especially stood out for me. One I largely agreed with (the Churchland paper) and so left no commentary (what would have been the point given my high comfort level with the conclusions offered) and the other I substantially disagreed with and so ended up spending my time there. The author of that paper, Stevan Harnad, was graciously tolerant of my persistent and perhaps sometimes trying criticisms. Though we didn’t end up in accord, I found the opportunity to engage on the issues with him most helpful.

    On balance I think this conference concept is a great idea and hope to see it continued. Perhaps I’ll even take a crack at a paper for the next one, thereby submitting myself to the slings and arrows of critics like me. It would probably serve me right if Stevan had the opportunity to subject my ideas to the same scrutiny he endured with regard to his.

    Can’t think of anything that could have done better for now. If something comes to me though, rest assured, I’ll mention it.

  2. Amazing job Richard!!
    The only problem of the online conference is missing the relaxed bier after it.

    One suggestion for the future (the former point is hardly amendable while keeping all the advantages of the conference): different participant have different suggestion, objections, etc. Although they are all related to the paper, sometimes they are not related to each other.
    What do you think about the possibility of structuring the discussion not like a line but like a tree, instead of replying to the very last comment one would reply to a certain previous comment, branching the discussion. This would make it easier to follow concrete discussions.
    On the other hand, it would be harder to follow the general discussion and if people are not careful it might become a mess.

  3. BRAVO

    Congratulations Richard. I think you did a terrific job and the symposia went very well.

    I agree that threaded discussion would be better than linear discussion. It will couple items and responses more effectively.

    I also suggest the adoption of a few helpful conventions (not surprisingly, the ones I voluntarily self-imposed on myself):

    Postings should have self-explanatory titles (IN CAPS, since we cannot do boldface) reflecting their content. (The overall topic thread subject header — the title of the target paper — is not enough.)

    Contributors should be encouraged to do quote/commentary, and there too there should be a convention: The NAME of the one quoted, in caps. should precede the quote.

    But the quotes should be ruthlessly pared down to only their substantive essentials, otherwise the postings become discouragingly long and complicated to follow. The threading will retrieve the rest of the context if necessary, but it should be the poster’s responsibility to edit out the inessentials and quote only what is really needed in order to understand and weigh the comment.

    Cheers, Stevan

  4. Thanks for the feedback!

    Just a quick note, we can do bold as well as italics but you need to know the html code for it, I guess I should have a primer or something available with basic stuff like that just so everyone is on the same page.

    Also, I did have threaded and nested comments last year and people complained that it actually made it more difficult to keep track of the conversation so I went back to linear this year. Some platforms allow the reader to choose whether they view it as linear or threaded, WordPress doesn’t allow that.

  5. Great job, Richard! A very nice set of papers and productive discussions once more. Personally I prefer linear to threaded at least for discussions of this sort of size. And let me disagree thoroughly with Stevan. I find quote/commentary in this format near-unreadable (I didn’t follow any of those discussions in this conference for that reason), while ordinary uninterrupted text replies are much more readable. And I think that titles at the beginning of messages are entirely unnecessary.

  6. I really enjoyed this. I followed most of the papers and discussions with great pleasure.

    Regarding issues of format: I really liked Phillip’s and Bence’s short video intros. And hope more people do that sort of thing at CO4.

    And to weigh in on linear versus threaded, I’ve gotta say: linear all the way.

    Nice job once again, Richard!

  7. Thanks Richard, this was a really great way to lose my online-philosophy-conference-virginity (I’ll never forget the first time…).

    I did find it easier to engage with papers that had video versions (especially if the commentary also had a video version). I wonder whether this could be encouraged in the future.

  8. Many thanks for all the hard work– I really enjoyed the conference.

    One question/suggestion: would it be possible to hold the conference during the (northern hemisphere) summer? I would have liked to participate in more sessions, but teaching and other commitments kept getting in the way…

  9. Thanks, again, Richard for a really terrific and rewarding conference. You really did a smashing job.

    As far as suggestions go, I think the current format is great, overall. I would, however, echo Heather’s idea of holding the conference during the summer. I, too, would have very much liked to participate in more of the sessions, but teaching commitments (mainly) prevented it.

    Nonetheless, I’ll say again: it was a very rewarding experience for me, and thank you for all the hard work.

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