In general, astronomers enjoy attending conferences. Particularly when they take place in nice locations. Rio de Janeiro, for instance, fits that bill nicely (thank you, IAU). Some of us even enjoy presenting our work to our colleagues at these events, be it by giving a talk or making a poster. It usually earns us a pat on the back from our peers, some useful feedback, new ideas and contacts, and more often than not a well-earned drink afterwards. Soon afterwards, emails start arriving from the conference organisers: send us your proceedings paper!
In one of last week’s editions of Estrela D’Alva, the daily IAU General Assembly newspaper, Rob Kennicutt, Professor at the University of Cambridge and recent co-laureate of the Gruber prize for cosmology, wrote an article on the boringness that is the conference proceedings paper. The full article can be read on page 2 of the online pdf edition of the paper. Kennicutt’s question:
Are printed proceedings another dinosaur that should become extinct along with printed journals, or do they offer something unique and precious that needs to be preserved?