More than a year and a half after the first COVID-19 restrictions were set in place, we are finally in a position where we can once again, tentatively, look forward to meeting and sharing our science face-to-face (albeit with those faces probably still masked). That said, not everyone is yet ready or able to get back to in-person gatherings, and if there is anything that the pandemic has taught us, it is the importance of staying flexible in uncertain situations. It is too early to know for sure what next year will bring, but with the abstract deadline fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what your next OHBM annual meeting will look like.
The upcoming OHBM2022 annual meeting will be a ‘best-of-both-worlds’ event, comprising a fully in-person programme with some hybrid features AND a fully virtual component for those not physically present. Through the previous two meetings, we have built up a wealth of experience on what does and doesn’t work in online spaces. Last year’s Technology Task Force created ‘Planet Brain’ - an interactive alien environment, with many features familiar to us from real-life conferences. Once the initial technical issues were ironed out, feedback for this format was mixed; it was very positive for many, but really unsatisfactory for others. We know that whatever platform is selected for 2022, the mission of bridging the virtual experience with an in-person event requires careful, thoughtful work.
Specially assigned to this mission is the newly formed OHBM 2022 Virtual Integration Taskforce (VITF), enlisting the help of volunteer leaders who will coordinate with the Program Committee in deciding how OHBM2022 meeting content will be distributed through our online and in-person spaces.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to dramatically impact daily life across the globe, though the efficacy of vaccines and public health measures has allowed many to resume “normal” activities (although often in modified form) in the past few months. In the academic research world, one aspect that has yet to return on a large scale is the in-person conference. Most of these meetings quickly transitioned to virtual formats early in the pandemic, but—as was demonstrated recently by the Society for Neuroscience’s hybrid-turned-virtual-only experience—the re-transition back to in-person meetings is not straightforward.
In this new blog series, the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM) is aiming for total transparency regarding the 2022 Annual Meeting. While many details are being worked out and the need for flexibility remains high, the conference is currently being planned as an in-person meeting in June in Glasgow, Scotland. There will also be virtual components to the conference to complement the physical meeting, although the details are yet to be determined.