Perhaps I missed the memo? I am out of the office after all.
When did it become acceptable to take pictures during talks at a conference?
It’s day 2 at the European Materials Research Society Meeting in Nice, France and I’ve just left one session during which someone in the row in front of me took a picture of every single slide. At least they had the sense to turn off the flash on their camera – unlike the idiot standing at the back of the room. In a session yesterday, an announcement had to be made telling people to stop taking photographs. Ethical concerns notwithstanding (recording of unpublished results, preliminary data, etc…), it’s just downright rude and distracting, not only to the person presenting, but to the rest of the audience who are there to LISTEN to the talk.
To make matters worse, delegates at this conference have no idea how to turn off their mobile phones. In one talk, the speaker’s phone went off – at least it went unanswered. Every session, perhaps even every talk, has been punctuated with a series of ear-splitting beeps or some cute ring-tone or other – my personal favourite was a polyphonic rendition of the Macarena during a talk about organic field-effect transistors.
It’s quite ironic really – the devices responsible for my current torment are only possible because of advances in materials’ research. There’s no escaping the fact, it’s very much a material world.
Stuart Cantrill (Associate Editor, Nature Nanotechnology)