I'm very excited about my Saturday discussion session for ScienceOnline, 2012! Lou Woodley of Nature.com and I are leading a session on the next generation of conferences.

Observe:

The most interesting scientific meetings for the participants are small, with lots of time for informal interactions and discussion of not-yet-published results. They sometimes happen in remote or unusual locations and are often funded by foundations or agencies rather than scientific societies. Such meetings have many drawbacks that go against the principles of open science -- they encourage cliques, exclude many people who may be interested, and may fail to make a broad impact outside the participants. The documents that come out of such meetings, often edited volumes running hundreds of dollars, look good on a shelf but have little urgency or value. Journalists and the public may not even know that an interesting meeting is happening! This session will explore ways to create hybrid conferences, that combine the focus of a small meeting with a broader communication and publication strategy. The questions include: When is streaming media useful? How best to integrate remote participants? What kind of video product after the conference is most useful? How can a small meeting accomplish open access publication? What kind of advance timeline is necessary to catalyze the participants? How can such meetings be leveraged for outreach opportunities? Discussing how scientific societies and other scientific non-profits can work with science bloggers to increase the outreach potential of both. More organizations are becoming interested in recruiting bloggers, and many scientist bloggers are interested in blogging meetings related to their interests. We are interested in bringing the two together, and sharing our experiences as bloggers who blog meetings, and as organizers for societies that have worked with bloggers. How are bloggers different from mainstream reporters? Why should an organization work with one? How should organizations work with bloggers in terms of registration, setup, and facilitating their work? From the blogger's end, what are organizations looking for in science bloggers, and what should we expect from the organization? What are best practices of blogging conferences? How do you approach an organization about blogging for one of their meetings?

It's a lot to cover, but we'll do our best. We've got loads of things to talk about, including:

- ways to give your meeting an interactive, online element , with discussions about what you may want from online activities surrounding your meeting, and how to measure your success

- whether and how to archive the online activities surrounding your conference

- how to leverage your meeting for outreach opportunities

- How to work with bloggers for a conference, what the bloggers want and expect, what societies want and expect out of bloggers, and how to get the best outcome.

And of course, there will be much, much more. We've got a lot of ideas, but we're all about crowdsourcing input from you! So please come in and share your ideas for how to guide scientific conferences into the next generation!