One silver-lining to the cloud of COVID has been the development of virtual forms of participation. A SIGPLAN blog post by five early-career researchers offers their perspective on what we should do next.
We propose that SIGPLAN form a Committee on Conference Data. The committee would be made up of: one organizing-committee representative from each of the flagship SIGPLAN conferences, one early career representative, and, crucially, a professional data collection specialist hired by SIGPLAN. The group would identify and collect key data that is pertinent to conference organization, especially with respect to physical versus virtual conference formats. The committee would make data-driven recommendations to SIGPLAN organizers based on the collected data and guided by core tenets such as community building, inclusivity, research dissemination, and climate responsibility. We realize that this is not a small request, but we are confident that it is both necessary and achievable. If the committee were to form by May 1, 2021, it would be able to start collecting data at PLDI 2021 and continue through the next two years, providing enormous clarity for SIGPLAN organizers at a time when so much is unclear.