Personally, I hate conferences where the speakers are in fact readers of (usually boring) papers. Even more so, if the papers have been used and re-used at several conferences. These conferences, I believe, are only useful because of their coffee-breaks, when one can meet interesting people, discuss interesting topics, get really into a stimulating theme.
But if it is so, why do not we organize conferences which resemble more the coffee breaks and less the reading rooms?
Apart from my past proposals (see under the label "methodology"), I am now considering the idea of a conference embedding a workshop. One could discuss the general problems involved by the conference in an open session, where stimulating questions may come from the public (I would not allow than 30' for each speaker and in any case not less than 15' for discussion, right after each presentation). Within the conference (e.g., on the second out of three days, or about midday of a single day), a more restricted circle might meet and discuss the technicalities the general theme implies. The restricted circle would involve only people who are really interested (and have registered, say, two weeks in advance). One would discuss problems which are yet to be solved in a more specific way.
For instance, the general session might be about the use of manuscript sources (are they reliable? unavoidable? dependent on the scribe's mood?) and the workshop on conventions for reproducing lacunae (or the like).
What do readers think? What worked for you? From which conference did you come back happy and enriched?
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