Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many conferences were held online starting in late March 2020, and several of us helped with the fully virtual offering of SPLASH 2020. By mid-2021, however, vaccination was widespread and effective at preventing COVID infection and severe disease, and it became feasible to consider in-person attendance at conferences. Polls of authors and the larger community indicated strong interest in holding an in-person version of SPLASH. Still, as of October 2021 the US had not relaxed its travel restrictions on people from large parts of the world, and even beyond that some people would not be able to travel to SPLASH. We therefore decided to offer SPLASH as a Hybrid conference in October 2021, offering both in-person and virtual attendance options. We were also excited about piloting a hybrid conference, because there are many longer-term benefits if we can run them well, including supporting both in-person networking and accessibility for attendees who can only attend remotely. We knew doing so would be hard, but we also hoped to learn valuable lessons. SPLASH 2021 turned out to be an interesting case study as the first major post-COVID PL conference to go hybrid, and one of the earliest across the ACM as well.
The SIGPLAN survey in early 2021 revealed that we want to go to physical conferences again and that we must take inclusion to the next level.
Five early-career researchers bring their perspective to the debate on conference formats after COVID. They discuss the needs of junior researchers and how different approaches address those needs.
The SIGPLAN Climate Committee was active 2016-2020. Its members look back on the committee’s goals and achievements, and ahead at what is still to do.