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twoday.net AGB

Sex and laptops in the auditorium

Common lore has it that 10% of the people actively listen to and understand your presentation, 20% don't get it and 70% are thinking about sex. This might have been true in the 80s but I am convinced that the 70% in the audiences in this millenium think about whether to get out their laptop when the Sigmas start their Slow Waltz and the gene names receive superscripts in cyrillic.
Flipping the lid of your laptop open is certainly as socially outlawed as publicly approaching your old lady/heartthrob/manifestation of a Leonardo DiCaprio in indecent manners. The main reason why we do see laptops in audiences is probably because they are easier to access - and more tempting.

On this conference, nobody uses their laptop during talks but the focus is easily noticable - as soon as the light goes on to allow for questions, many people in the back rows reach for their portable computers.
Bioinformatics conferences were different: There were always people with note books, such as the director of the Center for Intelligent Intelligence whose halo of white hair radiated "Before your contribution to the entropic death of the universe by uttering abbreviations has come to end, little fellow on the stage, I will have commanded my minions to solve the mysteries of cancer using Markov Ball-and-Chains". Or the geek grad student, showing of his vintage installation of HolyBSD on his extra-heavy notebook with a crack, inviting you to watch the recompilation of the kernel and his Dungeon & Dragons character sheet. Or the pundit in the second row who downloaded and browsed the papers of the speaker during the talk to poke him with questions about material that was not presented.
I don't know what to make of it - is it better to "work" in the back row than to let your mind wander aimlessly?

[N.B. No, I did not write this in the lecture theater]
Stew (guest) - 2005-09-16 15:05

Also...

You forgot the highly competitive "my laptop is smaller than your laptop" game played out by Profs in the front row. A variation - "my laptop has better wireless connectivity than your laptop" - is played during coffee breaks.

Shannon (guest) - 2005-09-19 14:05

Instant Messaging

What about the lively instant message discussions going on between attendees, about the chemical composition of whatever got splattered on the speaker's tie during dinner the night before? The tip off: hypnotized laptop users around the auditorium giggle simultaneously.

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