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Hybrid International Meetings for Participants on the Move

From Face-to-Face to Virtual Interaction (Part #1)


A version of this document appeared in the Congrex Annual Review (2000)


Extremes
Future hybrid gatherings
Challenges
References

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Extremes

There is widespread familiarity with what might be termed "conventional international meetings", namely those in which the emphasis is on face-to-face interaction. These have long been supplemented by use of well-known communications devices for the speakers - such as microphones, and projectors. The only communications technology used by participants may then be earphones for interpretation.

At the other extreme, and beyond the focus of the conventional meetings industry, there has been an explosion of "virtual international meetings" over the past decade. These involve no face-to-face interaction. Such meetings tend to be an extension of bulletin boards, listservers and usegroups, dating back to the 1970s. The interactions are increasingly facilitated by sophisticated software packages.

It is now increasingly the case that participants at conventional face-to-face meetings will initiate communications before the event electronically, and will follow-up the event by further electronic communications. Indeed many meetings now depend on electronic communications for their organization. Similarly, participants in virtual meetings may choose to gather for face-to-face encounters at some stage - although this tends to take the form of one-on-one encounters rather than gatherings as groups of any significant number.

form of one-on-one encounters rather than gatherings as groups of any significant number.