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Too Many IP Conferences, or Not Enough?

I’ve always considered those in the IP field to be lucky in that, at least in recent years, we have an embarrassment of riches in terms of conferences and works-in-progress opportunities.  However, people have also complained that there are too many conferences, particularly of the works-in-progress variety, and that the works-in-progress conferences have become somewhat too large and too networky to do any real workshopping of ideas.

Thus, whenever someone raises the idea of starting a new conference series, the response is usually that we already have too much of that in the field.

I suppose I’m wondering whether folks thinking of putting together new conferences should concentrate on different formats, and maybe limit them to a smaller number of speakers and focus from year to year on specific topics or specific “levels” of scholarship (eg junior scholars, mid level scholars etc).  I think what we’ve lost from becoming so inclusive is that the conferences do tend to get too large and we miss some of the benefits of, say, the early years of IPSC when we could all fit around a conference table and chat about ideas – and where everyone could catch up with everyone else over lunch or dinner.

I know lots of people blogged about the format of IPSC here while it was happening and it’s undoubtedly a fun conference with some great people, but I do think there is still room for smaller workshoppy conferences to be started perhaps on an “invitation only” basis to fill some gaps in conference format in the IP field.